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Sophie Ogg: “Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t achieve your dream”

Females in Motorsport spoke to Sophie Ogg, F1 Communications Director for McLaren Racing. We heard from Sophie about encouraging other women to work in the industry, her lessons learnt at McLaren and what it’s like to be part of a high-performance team. 

 

Sophie joined McLaren Racing after 12 years heading up the communications team for Williams Racing. In her current role, Sophie oversees the F1 communications team and manages the media strategy around McLaren drivers and team performance. 


Along with her team, Sophie works with the on-ground media during all F1 race events, media interest surrounding the McLaren heritage programme, the McLaren Driver Development Programme, F1 Academy, and Esports. 


With all this responsibility, what is Sophie’s favourite part of her job? 


“It’s the racing because you never know what will happen in a live sports event,” she tells Females in Motorsport. “So, whilst you can plan for all eventualities, I love the unpredictability and having to be prepared to manage communications around whatever comes your way.” 


It’s no secret that Sophie’s job is an interesting and exciting one and many would want to take a similar path. For those wanting to do so, Sophie has some really vital advice. 


“Don’t wait for things to come to you, make them happen - if you have passion and determination, you can achieve anything you want in life,” she says. “But be prepared to work hard and be prepared to start at the bottom and work your way up.”


To help her career, Sophie started helping local race teams and absorbed information from those around her at just 16-years old. 


“Contacts are key and every role I’ve had has come through a connection I’ve met over the years, but connections only get you in the door, once there you must have a good work ethic and show the value you bring,” she says. “Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t achieve your dream.” 


And, when someone new wants to join Sophie’s team, she looks for someone with similar traits to herself, particularly, initiative. 

 

“I look for people who have used their initiative to go out and make things happen,” she says. “That could be doing work experience or taking on different roles to learn and gain experience.”


Whilst having a passion for motorsport helps, a passion for communications is important for those who would like to follow in Sophie’s footsteps. 


“People who work smart, not just work hard as well as it’s not just about the hours you put in, it’s what you do within those hours,” she says. “Team culture is vital because you spend a lot of time together and need to be able to work as a team, support each other and have trust. So I look for all these qualities to make sure someone compliments the team.” 


Working for the McLaren brand and a high-performance team is an incredible achievement, but what makes up a high-performance team? 


“People working together towards a common goal with a culture that motivates everyone to be the best version of themselves,” Sophie tells us. “Team culture is so important, especially in an industry like motorsport which is extremely high-paced and high-pressured with more external media channels and incoming media enquiries than ever before.” 

To Sophie, the people she works with, and looks to hire, are the key to the success of a high-performing team, and those leading them. 


“But at the heart of it all is the people and having the right talented people pulling in the same direction,” she explains. “Leaders need to lead by example, and you need trust, respect, and an environment where everyone feels empowered and supported to deliver the best they can.”

 

Whilst Sophie has only been with McLaren a few years, she’s already got some key learnings. 


“The biggest thing you have to learn is trust,” she tells us. “There is so much happening that you have to know when to be involved and when to step back, because it would be impossible to be involved in everything.”


To help her, Sophie has an incredible team to support her who she’s proud of. 


“They are brilliant characters and I love working with them all,” she says. I’m proud of how much we have accomplished over the last couple of years.”

 

Looking back on 26-year career, Sophie has many achievements both on and off the track but there’s one moment that stands out for her. 


“I’d have to say that the first time a girl came up to me in the crowd at a race track and said she had been inspired by me to go into a career in motorsport,” she says. “It was such a proud moment.”


And, there are more moments that make Sophie proud, due to the work she’s done. 


“Every time I hear someone say they are doing the job they do because they saw me do it, I get that same feeling,” she says. “I’m lucky to have been involved in some huge media moments over the years from big announcements, on-track success, working with drivers both at the start and end of their careers at some huge F1 events, but knowing that through everything I’ve done it has inspired someone else to have the belief to go out and achieve their dreams, there’s no better feeling.”


With much movement already happening across the industry, there’s so much potential for the next five years, and what Sophie would like to see is already happening. McLaren already has several programmes such as the McLaren Racing Engage Alliance, which aims to find new ways into motorsport careers, with a focus on women. 


“Any programmes to show young people what’s involved and the variety of careers you can have within the motorsport industry is great,” she says. “Going out to schools and really inspiring the next generation from a young age giving them role models to aspire to is another great way of showcasing career options in the industry.”

 

As Sophie is a parent we asked her what it means to be a good role model… 


“For me, being a good role model as a parent means trying to lead by example and encouraging someone to be the best version of themselves,” she tells us. “I feel words mean nothing if you don’t back them up with behaviour.


Sophie also believes that being empathetic and to be kind is also important in a role model. 


“Having empathy is also the thing I value most in life, and I feel it’s important for the next generation to be listened to and heard,” she tells us. “To be kind and have courage. You can have ambition and still be kind.


“It’s so important to remember that celebrating someone else’s success doesn’t limit your own success.” 

 

The motorsport industry following has grown significantly over the last few years with more and more people wanting to join the industry. Whilst there is much individuals can do to support their career, there’s a responsibility of the motorsport industry. 


“I truly believe that you need to see it to be it,” Sophie says. “It’s important to showcase great role models, both male and female.”


For women, particularly, it’s important to provide opportunities in a male-dominated industry, and show them what’s possible. 


“We should encourage women and celebrate them, but equally everyone should be given their role on merit,” she says. “But we need to start inspiring girls, in particular, at a younger age as research suggests that after the age of five, many societal factors including stereotypes and lack of representation result in a decrease in confidence and self-belief in girls compared to boys, limiting their aspirations in life.”


To address this, Sophie believes that we need to find more ways to give young girls support and encouragement to believe they can achieve their goals. 


“The more role models there are out there, the more likely they will believe that there are no limitations to their dreams, and we will start to see more and more girls come through the ranks in future.”

1 Comment


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Jun 27

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