Regardless which motorsport championship one follows, everyone knows who Pirelli is.
Marta Gasparin - Pirelli Motorsport’s Head of Marketing - has been with the brand since 2016 and has a wealth of knowledge when it comes to marketing the world’s fastest sports. Females in Motorsport spoke with her to learn more about her vibrant role and her motorsport journey to date.
“As a teenager, I used to read a lot of motorsport magazines,” she tells Females in Motorsport. “I would later chase my male friends to annoy them with questions about cars, drivers, races… I couldn’t stop!”
In 2004, Marta graduated in Business Communication from Università degli Studi di Padova (Italy) with a thesis in Marketing and Luxury in Automotive. With this, came the opportunity to undertake an internship at Porsche Italy.
“A year later, they opened their motorsport department and assigned to me its project management,” she says. “I spent 11 amazing years there as Head of Motorsport for the Italian market."
When Pirelli called Marta in 2016 with the opportunity to lead the Motorsport Marketing department, she couldn’t say no.
“I’m now heading up motorsport marketing and developing activities with major motorsport global series such as Formula 1, WRC, and GT World Challenge, among others,” she says.
Every contract has a very wide range of activities and deliverables, and Marta needs to make sure they’re matching the company’s objectives and KPIs in terms of return on investment.
“A major part of my job is defining on a strategic perspective these objectives and then developing - with the other part - a marketing plan which includes all functional assets needed,” she says. “My team works to turn these plans into action. They’re responsible for making every point of the plan concrete and, most of all, measurable.”
When asked about what’s the most challenging yet rewarding thing she has come across during her years in motorsport, Marta stresses the importance of investing in young talents.
“Around 15 years ago, very few companies invested in nurturing talents, especially when it came to drivers,” she says. "A lot of them had raw talent but lacked preparation. Ferrari with its academy (FDA) was the first team to start this. With my team at Porsche Italy, we started developing a scholarship programme targeting drivers under 25 years-old, with the purpose to provide them with a full package of training, to professionally prepare them to be racing drivers.”
These activities included a series of courses, workouts, track tests, media and mental coaching too.
“At the time, no one was talking about mental health,” she says. “I had to fight with some people around me to make them understand how important this is, especially for young drivers. The same goes for social media - we had to stress the importance of approaching the audience in an honest yet professional way.
“Drivers need to show they are sports persons but also human beings. They are a source of inspiration for many young kids around the world who are approaching motorsport at the grassroots.
“That programme was very important and successful. We turned a lot of young and fast drivers into proper motorsport professionals, and some of them are now Factory Drivers for GT Manufacturers like Ferrari, AMG, Audi and Porsche.
“When things get challenging, simply don’t give up.”
Working in the motorsport industry is demanding given how fast-paced this world is.
“Passion should be important in every sport and it is even more crucial in this kind of environment,” she says. “With such packed calendars and travelling duties all over the world, I always say that motorsport is taking away so much from our private life. This kind of job wouldn’t be possible without a big boost coming from passion, given how much time we spend away from our families and loved ones.”
With this in mind, selecting candidates who have the right personality and soft-skills for motorsport is paramount.
“As I said before, passion is the number one requirement,” Marta says. “Competence, determination, hunger and willingness to know more are other important skills I highly value. I always tell my team that they need to connect dots and go beyond their boundaries. Even if we work in marketing, we need to know the basics of motorsport, understand the rules and the peculiarities of the championship we are involved in.
“To summarise, I’d say the perfect recipe to join my team would be to have passion for this world, desire to acquire knowledge and competences, a curious mindset, and a problem-solving approach.”
It’s evident that Marta is a huge advocate for how progressive Pirelli is with its hiring attitudes and what they’re doing to increase women’s representation in the industry.
“The best thing about my job is that I get to closely work side-by-side with the best global motorsport world series,” she says. “Doing all of this with an amazing team made of extraordinary professionals - great people driven by passion and dedication - makes it even better.
“Pirelli is a company that’s doing a lot to support successful career paths of talented young women. From dedicated scholarships to support the growth of females share within STEM professions, to specific parenthood policies supporting maternity leaves and motherhood in general. It’s not just words on paper, it’s real and you can see it everyday.”
Another concept that is close to Marta’s heart is gender equity and equal opportunities.
“Talent is genderless and I always stress this point,” she says. “That’s why I care about talent promotion. Having an active role in F1, as a tyre manufacturer, we actually have female trackside engineers, female compound engineers, modelling engineers, and so on. Our Head of F1 Logistics, who’s in charge of moving all of our tyres around the world, is a woman. And, my team is almost all female.
“Turning policies into a proper inclusivity-driven culture in the company has been successful. This is something that - as a member of Pirelli - I feel very responsible personally and I’m very proud of that."