Mission Makers Podcast | London | UK

MARK GALLAGHER

EP 010 / 16.03.2022

ALIGNING AMBITION
IN FORMULA 1 

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To kick off the highly anticipated 2022 Formula 1 Season this year, we are joined by Mark Gallagher, a renowned commentator, keynote speaker, and managing director of Performance Insights. In this interview, we discuss Mark’s prolific rise in motorsports as a senior leader for Jordan Grand Prix and Red Bull Racing, we explore how the corporate boardroom can learn powerful lessons from F1, and finally Mark’s long-awaited predictions for a new era of Formula 1.

 

As with many of our highly acclaimed guests in motorsports, ambition and the pursuit of peak performance are integral shared qualities. When you read the biography of Mark Gallagher, he personifies the extremely high caliber of talent the sport attracts. His career in Formula 1 has included more than a decade on the management board of the race-winning Jordan Grand Prix team. He has played a key role in establishing the commercial arm of Red Bull Racing long before Christian Horner graced through the doors of the championship-winning team, and he has worked with many of the sport’s leading drivers, including former World Champions like Ayrton Senna, Michael Schumacher, and Jenson Button. Today, he works closely with a number of the sport’s major stars including David Coulthard, Mika Hakkinen, and Jacques Villeneuve. 

 

ALIGNING AMBITION

 

His achievements don’t stop there, because as we see with so many successful leaders, fulfillment comes from continuously raising the bar higher and higher, aligning ambition with new missions and new goals. This is why along the way Mark founded Status Grand Prix, he helped Formula 1 develop the new hybrid petrol-electric engine regulations introduced in 2014, and he consulted Disney on the movie CARS. It is unsurprising then that after seeing the sport through so many lenses, Mark would go on to become an esteemed author behind the book “The Business of Winning: Insights In Transformation From F1 To The Boardroom”. This is certainly a man who knows how to win and is why he is in high demand from hundreds of Fortune 500 companies who want to uncover every secret of success.


 

FUELLING TEAM CULTURE

 

So what are these hallowed keys to success? Let’s start with leadership because it is undoubtedly the foundation of all teams and change is almost always led from the top down. Mark explores the different leadership styles between the explosive rivals, Christian Horner (Red Bull Racing) and Toto Wolff (Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1). Two polar opposite characters with contrastingly different personalities and nationalities. One is “a completely different animal with his mind games”, and the other is a “total control freak” according to each respective counterpart. 

 

A clash of management styles no doubt, but as Mark observes in our interview, what joins them at the hip “is their deep, unbridled passion to succeed in this business”. This deep devotion for the sport coupled with the desire to never settle for second best is the energy that infuses down to the rest of the 1000+ people in their teams. All of whom are the creme-de-la-creme of their field, whether it is marketing, engineering, or hospitality, the roles are more than 20-fold with incredibly complex structures, but each member is united by their unwavering commitment to uncovering every single split second of performance that gives them the competitive edge over their rivals. This passion to succeed is a way of life that for many have been deep-rooted for decades before joining Formula 1, with all of them showing up to work on a Sunday bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. 


 

DRIVING DIVERSITY AS A CORE VALUE


Moving onto motorsports and diversity, although women have been racing since the 1900s, there are still many biases that must be broken in gender and ethnicity for the playing field to be truly equalized. Despite the rise of initiatives like the W Series, The Hamilton Commission, and FIA Girls On Track, Mark stresses that the road ahead is still extremely long and complex. 

 

“I don't think you can ever say the sport is doing enough until the teams reflect the society they serve. The proof in the pudding will be when you have that team photograph taken at the end of each year, what's the makeup of the team? Who are the people you're employing at the factory? Who are the schools in universities that you're working with?” 

 

The world around us is changing at lightning speed. The Covid-19 pandemic has shaken every business to its core, breaking many business models whilst advancing our technological interdependencies and systems. Formula 1 has seen its fair share of crises from the ban on Tobacco Advertising in 2005 to the financial crisis of 2008 that caused radical changes. In our interview, we discuss the profound impact these crises have had, and how each time Formula 1 has bounced back even stronger due to its ability to embrace change.  

 

“ I can promise you that during the middle of a global pandemic, we have seen business increase significantly”

 

Undoubtedly, a huge catalyst for this has been the brilliant Netflix Series, Drive To Survive. But the truth is, every industry is witnessing change and in order to evolve harmoniously, communication and diversity are critical to transformation strategies. Drive To Survive lifted the lid on communication between fans and F1, allowing unprecedented behind-the-scenes insights. 

 

The days of deploying a one size fits all approach are over. Leaders must embed diversity as a core value, finding strength in differences that as Toto Wolff says “make us think differently, and be more open-minded.” This diversity of thought is what fuels organizations to operate more innovatively, inspiring teams to be committed to performing at their very best while maximizing their full potential.

 

F1 2022 PREDICTIONS



Finally, with the F1 season kicking off this weekend, Mark shares his predictions for 2022, suggesting that:

 

  • There will be some surprises this year: with the biggest technical changes in 40 years, teams are producing designs and developments which the regulators will not have seen coming. 

 

  • The ones to beat: will again be big players like Ferrari, Red Bull, and Mercedes. 

 

  • The dark horse: Alpine is well-positioned to be a bigger threat if they capitalize on the success of last year and a new team principal

 

The full conversation with Mark can be found on the video below and on the Mission Makers podcast on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.

 

Be sure to like and subscribe to the Mission Makers podcast to be on the pulse of high-performance insights from leaders in the worlds of motorsports, music, and business.  

Lessons To Fuel Your Mission

  • Aligning ambition drives a successful team

  • No matter the company, big or small, diversity and inclusion should be an integral process

  • Lack of unity and blame culture is a recipe for disaster for a team. 

  • Ambition, personality, and cultural fit are more important than academic achievement when landing a role.

  • Humour is the greatest leveler to winning an audience over

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