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Women spurring innovation in Formula One

March 14, 2016

Emma Rotherham   

IT Service Manager

Unlike today, where coding and STEM are high on the agenda in education, when I was growing up I didn’t realise my current role was an option for me. Working with technology in Formula One wasn’t something I envisaged when studying at school in Northern Ireland or later at college in Liverpool, predominantly because technology wasn’t a common career path for women back then.

But then things started to change. Around the time I was leaving university, the technology industry was growing rapidly, and I found my niche in IT service management. It suited me perfectly as it allowed me to combine my meticulous attention to detail and organisational skills with the often high pressured environment of enterprise IT service delivery. When I got the chance to join Tata Communications and work on the ground at Formula One, it was too good an opportunity to miss.

My day to day is very varied, and during race season I work with a small team of engineers to connect the circuit to Tata Communications’ global network. It’s what I’m used to now, but it actually means setting up the equivalent of an entire town’s network infrastructure in three days and – once the race is finished – dismantling it all in just three hours!

Formula One fans might not see the huge amount of work that goes on behind the scenes, but there really is no room for error. With millions of racing fans watching the action, any loss of network connectivity – even for a nanosecond – is simply not an option. I’m lucky to have a job in which no day is the same. It’s incredibly high-pressured and seeing the results first-hand is so rewarding.

The lack of female Formula One drivers always grabs the headlines, but actually there are a huge range of roles in the sport for women with different skills. It’s not just about engineering and technology, and it would be great to see more talent in the sport to satisfy the constant need for fresh ideas which drive Formula One forward.

I think the Formula One world would welcome more female talent, as it relies on a range of skills to innovate. By sharing more stories like mine, I hope we can open doors for women from different backgrounds into the world of Formula One too, and see more female engineers, technicians and even drivers in the sport.

How do you think the presence of women in Formula 1 can positively impact the sport? Leave a comment below.


Tata Communications was the Official Connectivity Provider of Formula 1® between 2012 and 2019. Tata Communications was also the Official Managed Connectivity Supplier to Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport, and Official Digital Transformation Partner to ROKiT Williams Racing until the end of the 2019 season.