Females in Motorsport recently spoke to Natasha Rushton, Partnership Manager and ED&I Council Co-Chair at Formula E, to understand more about her role, how she co-founded Formula E’s first ED&I Council, and her work on FIA Girls on Track.
Whilst belonging to the partnerships team, Natasha specifically sits within the team's manufacturers team and in her role is responsible for covering off the distribution of contractual rights and is the go-to person for her accounts that include NEOM McLaren, Nissan, and Envision.
“We’re in Season 10 planning at the moment so my day now is very different to what my day would be in Mexico,” Natasha says. “We’re helping teams create a holistic view on what their season will look like, what their key activations are and their key locations are, so we’re setting them up for success.”
To accomplish this, Natasha and her team reflect on Season 9 feedback and use it to plan a better experience for both fans and partners.
“Whether that’s small admin things such as booking in garage tours or wider picture pieces like hospitality products, we feed in what we hear from teams,” she says.
As a partner manager, Natasha must also share this feedback with her clients and must work with external stakeholders to do this.
“We are the point of contact for our team's manufacturers and our clients, but we’re also their advocate within the business,” she says. “We’re the go-to person before anything goes to the client.”
But, during a race weekend, Natasha’s day-to-day looks very different.
“Depending on the level of activity, it can be a lot of running around, making sure they [clients] are happy, making sure they’ve got everything, and if they have got a contract and a deliverable at a race, making sure they’ve got all those things,” Natasha says.
In Natasha’s first year, she was lucky enough to attend all races on the calendar, and in doing so, definitely has some stand-out race locations.
“Monaco is such an iconic location, it's great we get to race there,” she says. “Something that sets us apart from F1 is the access you get in Formula E vs F1. I remember going in my first year and being blown away by it.”
Portland is another standout on the calendar for Natasha as she was involved in the Nissan Pole to Pole campaign, which saw one couple drive the Nissan Ariya across three continents.
“The couple were in the US during the race and ended up driving back to Portland and did lots of stuff around it,” she says. “I wasn’t there for the race, but the planning was great and it went smoothly so that’s definitely a core stand out project that I worked on last year.”
When working on projects such as these, Natasha is surrounded by a great team which is made up of three women and four men.
“Something that is really good about Formula E is our diversity and female representation is really good - we’re just shy of 50% women,” she says.
Natasha previously worked at football club Manchester United.
“Places I’ve been before have had a lot of legacy,” she says. “Whereas here, the undertone is more about pushing forward and it’s quite nice to have looked holistically at my career and know I’ve worked at somewhere which has a lot of history and legacy, whereas now we’re part of creating that legacy.”
In under three years, Natasha has already contributed to Formula E’s legacy and started working on FIA Girls on Track in her first year.
“I came on [to FIA Girls on Track] pre-Season 9 and was brought on to see how we could grow awareness of the program, expand it, and if there were any areas we were missing, so any opportunities we could do to better service the girls,” Natasha says.
To achieve this, Natasha spent time working on the marketing of the program and defining the age range.
“We ended up changing the age range - it was previously 8-18. One of the things I suggested was changing it to 12-18,” she says.
By changing the age range, Natasha and her team ensured that there was more focus on career prospects, which is a major part of Formula E’s work with FIA Girls on Track.
“The point of the program is to encourage more female participation in motorsport, whether that’s driving the cars, or if it’s helping people know there’s an opportunity to work in PR, ” she says.
During this time, Natasha worked on the in-community career talks, which created more engagement across the race weekend.
“One of my ideas was to take people from teams and from Formula E, and go into the community to talk to girls about their careers on the Thursday,” she says. “It was about tapping into a whole new audience of people who might not make it on the Friday, so there’s more value in the program other than a great day, so we can help the girls get a career in motorsport.”
Whilst Natasha is no longer working on FIA Girls on Track due to her capacity, she was instrumental in creating the foundations of the program.
And, Natasha’s passion for diversity is something she’s able to work on both on and off the track. Earlier this year, Natasha co-founded Formula E’s first ever ED&I Council.
After going to HR, Natasha was told she could start the group if she was passionate, and so she did.
“It’s definitely a passion project, and doesn’t relate to partnerships so it’s something I’m doing on top of my day-to-day role,” Natasha says. “It’s a topic I’m really interested in and have always attended the Leaders Diversity Councils and events.”
Natasha brought the ED&I Council to life and has determined a great way of working for herself and her fellow members of the group.
“One of the first things I did was get a slot in our company Town Hall and said this is something I’m interested in setting up, if you’re interested in joining, let me know,” Natasha explains.
And, whilst it was something Natasha wanted, she also wanted to make sure it was an initiative which worked for everyone.
“It was about creating something that works for everyone that wants to be in it. If only four people put their hands up, it would be a different set up to if 20 people wanted to be included.”
Once Natasha had gained interest, she was able to kick-start the initiative, whilst adhering to the travel obstacles that come along with working in motorsport.
“I was keen on setting something up that works for everyone, I don’t want to say everyone has to meet weekly because that’s not going to happen when we get into the season,” Natasha says.
“We did a piece of work about what people in the group wanted, how we were going to make sure people were attending and how we’d keep the ball rolling when we get into the season.”
Natasha works alongside Claudia Aynsley, as co-chair, which is helpful to bounce ideas off one another.
“It’s important to have two people at the helm to drive things forward,” she says. “We make sure things keep pushing forward.”
Natasha and Claudia created a new way of working, which ensures members are working on what they’re passionate about and as a result, they created passion groups.
“We created passion groups and we have three initiatives we’re working on next year, which were all voted on by the group,” Natasha says. “We said, if you’re passionate about one of these three things, put yourself in that passion group. It means people are working on something that works for, and is important to, them.”
In a group such as is, Natasha stresses how important it is that the group works for everyone.
“It’s important to create something that people want to work on,” she says. “Everyone is a volunteer and is doing this on top of their day job.”
Reflecting back, the ED&I Council, it’s Natasha’s proudest piece of work to date.
“I started from my own initiative and now we have between 15-20 people in it, out of a 200 person workforce, it’s 10%,” she says. “I’m proud of how we’ve put employees at the centre of it and we’re working on something that works for people.”
All images are provided by and approved by Natasha Rushton.