Team Travel Coordinator Eva Wiggelendam: “It doesn't have to be a man's world”
Eva Wiggelendam has always been a big sports fan and her career path certainly shows her passion and love for competition. She used to work at Dorna as a Talent Promoter, but is now a Team Travel Coordinator for MotoGP team Repsol Honda.
Her love for motorsport was created through her love for all sports. Her first introduction to a career in (motor)sports was selling merchandise at the racetrack, namely the TT Circuit in Assen in the Netherlands.
With that valuable experience gained, she knew this was something she wanted to do for the rest of her life.
“Working at the TT Circuit in Assen was a coincidence,” she tells Females in Motorsport. “I lived in Spain after high school and learned Spanish there. A friend of mine came to the Netherlands to work at the track, but the friend she brought along couldn’t make it. I ended up working there because it was a Spanish company and I spoke Spanish and Dutch.”
Good fortune was involved again when she started working at Dorna, after a friend mentioned that they were looking for someone. These experiences taught her that motorsport is a world where knowing the right people is extremely important. That’s how she also got the job at Honda.
“I worked on a talent promotion project at Dorna,” she says. “The current team manager of Repsol Honda was the talent director when I was working on the British Talent Cup. At some point I felt I needed a new challenge and I was lucky that a vacancy just came up at Honda.”
Through this opening, she got the job at Repsol Honda in MotoGP where she’s currently working as a Team Travel Coordinator. Her job description is a long list of tasks, but the overarching theme is that she isn’t responsible for anything on-track.
“Anything that is not directly related to the race itself comes down to me,” she says. “I book flights, rental cars, hotels, give people uniforms and passes. Because of the pandemic, I also have to schedule PCR tests and fill out the relevant documents as well.”
A Team Travel Coordinator does need specific skills, such as being stress resistant and flexible. You cannot prepare everything, since things can go wrong that then need to be fixed. On top of that, her phone needs to be on 24/7.
“You need to be good at organising and make sure you have everything in order,” she says. “That's the most important thing. On top of that, strong communication skills are essential since you have to deal with a lot of different people and cultures. It’s a plus if you speak additional languages.”
The highlight of her career is definitely working at Honda, mostly because it suits her personality perfectly. She loved organizing events at Dorna, but she’s more in love with the team aspect present in the MotoGP. Winning a race as a team is the best thing in the world.
“I'm pretty competitive,” she says. “The environment that I worked in before was all about organising an event and who won didn’t really matter. But when you actually win a race as a team, it's a fantastic feeling. You get a reward for your effort, and that's something I really like.”
For someone who likes to win, Repsol Honda was a perfect choice. When she joined the team in 2019, Marc Marquez became a world champion for the eighth time. The Spanish driver won twelve times that season, securing the most wins.
Being a part of the team when he became a world champion was special and something she’ll never forget.
“A lot of work goes into those races,” she says. “Because of it, it would be really difficult to work in a team that never finishes on the podium or wins a race. You never experience that winning feeling. That seems tough.”
Working as a woman in motorsports hasn’t always been easy. When she joined Honda, she was the only girl working for them at the time. Fortunately, there are more women now. Eva is very happy that the team acquired a female engineer, since visibility during the races is incredibly important.
“I’m at the track every race, but of course you don't see me that often,” she says. “That's totally fine, but it’s nice that people at home see and know that there are also women in the team.
“Girls don't even see working in motorsport as an option, while it's a great opportunity and a nice environment to work in. It doesn't have to be a man's world.”
Even though Eva sees more women in the MotoGP paddock, she’s hopeful that the growth will continue.
“The teams don’t reflect what society is like,” she says. “I hope that many more girls and women become excited about the idea of working in motorsports. A change in society is needed for girls to see karting or motorcycle racing as an option.”
Working in motorsport as a woman has taught her a lot. Eva has the feeling that the people in her team take her seriously, but it’s still essential to remain confident throughout.
“Don’t be afraid to just go for it,” she says. “If your dream is to work in motorsports, start somewhere. Even if it’s in hospitality, try to get in touch with people that work in motorsport and slowly move up from there.”
If you want to work in MotoGP, it’s even more important to get in touch with people. Interestingly, she notes that there are barely any vacancies on LinkedIn for jobs in the pinnacle of motorcycle racing, while you can find a lot of vacancies for Formula 1.
“Hardly any vacancies are made public because it's always a case of 'I know someone,’’ she says. “It’s quite a small world. Knowing people is really important.”
Images are courtesy of CormacGP and Honda.