To run a team in F1 requires hundreds of employees in many different and contrasting roles, all aiming for a single goal. Williams Racing has been hugely successful over the years, and although they may be struggling this year, their staff are still working hard around the clock to rectify any problems. The British team are also known for their support of women in the sport, with Claire Williams in the Deputy Team Principal role, Sophie Ogg as their Head of F1 Communications and Susie Wolff having been their reserve driver only a few years ago. Amanda McReynolds is another of these inspiring women working at the team, so I spoke to her about her career and her role as the Head of Partner Management.
Having been passionate about the sport since she was a child, motorsport was always an interest for Amanda, but it wasn’t the only sport she loved. “I’ve always had an interest in motorsport, specifically Formula One. It was a big family occasion on a Sunday to watch the race together and that has always stuck with me growing up. I never knew what I wanted to do, but I was a national gymnast until I was 20 years old,” she told me. With her focus on training, the school subjects McReynolds chose to study were mostly sport related with this helping her to contextualise what she was doing. “Going through college and university, it became clear that I wanted to work in Sports Marketing and I started focusing on Sponsorship in particular,” she said.
Towards the end of her university course, McReynolds wrote her dissertation on sponsorship awareness in Formula One. Following this she managed to secure a job at a company called Sports Marketing Surveys. “Most people will know them now as Nielsen Sports, they provide sports intelligence and measurement to help companies better understand and engage with their audiences. My initial role was as a Data Analyst, crunching numbers,” Amanda explained, adding: “I then moved up to Sponsorship Account Manager and took responsibility for the reporting of the data. I focused on a few sports, including Formula One, but also tennis, football and even ice hockey!” Although she enjoyed her role there, Amanda admitted she realised fairly quickly that research was not her “long-term goal career wise”. “I knew that I enjoyed working with brands and sponsors and building a relationship with them. From Sports Marketing Surveys, I moved into a Client Services Assistant role with the European Tour and Ryder Cup. My role evolved quickly and I was working with the sponsors as well as the brand before stepping up to Client Services and Brand Manager. My highlight was without a doubt the winning Ryder Cup year of 2010 in Wales,” McReynolds explained.
In 2012, Amanda joined Williams Racing as a Partner Manager, finding a way to combine her love of F1 with the previous marketing skills she had gained. Over the years she progressed to a Senior Partnership Manager role and since the start of the year has been further promoted to the Head of Partner Management. Speaking of her current job, she said: “I am responsible for the strategy that we implement to maintain the relationships with our partners and ensuring that we deliver against their strategic objectives for the year with the assets that they are contractually entitled to. I manage a team of three who work with our partners, including a Junior Partner Manager, Partner Manager and Senior Partner Manager. We have a commercial team who focus on new business, but with the relationships we build with our partners, I have to work across renewals and uplifting partners also, so an element of sales comes in to my day to day role.”
Everyday is different for McReynolds especially when she travels with the team. Throughout the season, Amanda will attend roughly 16 of the 21 races and since joining Williams in 2012 has been able to experience and visit some incredible places. Although her role can be stressful, the chaos of working at a Grand Prix is often worthwhile when the team is successful. “Any time Williams has been on the podium, the atmosphere and the whole team celebrating together is such a great moment, it makes all the long hours and hard work worth it,” she described. However, the best moment of her career with Williams is much more personal. “(It’s) very cliché but meeting my now husband! We met whilst both working at Williams,” she told me.
Working in F1 may sound glamourous and sometimes it can be, but there are also challenges for those working in all areas of the sport. For Amanda, it’s keeping up with the sponsorship industry that can be most difficult, especially with a constantly changing media landscape. “The sponsorship industry is constantly evolving so it is so important to stay ahead of the trends and ensure we are moving with the times to deliver exceptional opportunities to our partners,” McReynolds told me.
Amanda McReynolds has worked her way up the career ladder at one of the most successful Formula One teams in the sport’s history. Traveling and working closely with the team means she spends a lot of time away from home and has to be extremely committed, this was something she said people should consider. “I would say that you have to love what you do. It is a lifestyle working in motorsport and has a big impact on your personal life due to the long hours and the travel,” Amanda explained, however she was also keen to advise those wanting to work in the sport. “My career goals have evolved as I have worked up through the ranks, and I owe it all to where I started out in research. Too many people want everything all at once in this day and age, and it is important to put the hours in and gain the knowledge and experience through a variety of roles so you can determine what you truly want to wake up every day and go to work and do,” she said. Amanda has done exactly this, having worked in different roles within her desired field and now does a job she loves with Williams, which allows her to combine several of her passions.
All photo credits: Williams Racing