Lena Siep 0:00
I was taken to the racetrack for the first time when I was about 12 years by my dad. I saw German touring cars. And I was fascinated ever since. Then I started my career working for various teams from Formula One to long-distance racing with Le Mans 24 Hours, Nurburgring Touring Car championships, and GT sport. And now in the past couple of years, I focused a bit more on electric racing, which also had to do with the fact that I wanted to give my career a more meaningful twist. After 15 years in the car industry and motorsport, I kind of felt that you know, what I'm doing, didn't create enough of an impact and didn't give me that purpose that I think some other speakers here mentioned is fueling them every day. And it was right at that moment that a guy came to me called Nico Rosberg. And he is if some of you know him, he is a world champion in Formula One, and after he ended his career in motorsport. As an active driver, he's turned to become a sustainability investor and entrepreneur, founding the green tech festival, founding his own race team, Rosberg, X racing, focused entirely on battling climate change. And now here I am speaking about motorsport and sustainability, and really proud to be able to do so today.
Farah Nanji 1:30
Fantastic. Well, thank you so much for joining us, Lena. It's amazing to have more women in motorsport that are committed to championing also one of the SDG initiatives of getting more gender equality. And if anyone is wondering what my connection is to motorsport, as well, and why I'm up here talking about this, because I grew up racing cars, and being a massive petrolhead. And my journey changed slightly when I was 15. And I was diagnosed with dyspraxia, which is a motor coordination delay. But the problem was, I already found what I was passionate about. And what I became fascinated by was the human performance side of motorsport in particular, and, of course, all sports focused on human performance and decoding that, but obviously, for me, it was motorsport, in order to be able to stay on track. So today, I run a company in London, which is all about how motorsports can impact leadership. And one of the things that I'm equally passionate about as well is leveling the playing field for women to be in the sport, and also how motorsports have a huge impact on sustainability that if you're not in the ecosystem, and you're not an avid fan, you probably wouldn't realize just how big that impact is. And so both Lena and I are, you know, work quite closely with, you know, communities that are really in the STEM sort of initiatives. And as Lena said, working with Nico Rosberg, I'm sure you must be involved in some incredibly sustainable initiatives. So let's dive straight into it. You know, the community is becoming much more committed to creating a sustainable and responsible model. Obviously, it's a global sport, you have more than a billion people watching just Formula One alone. And so it has a huge impact not only in its reach but of course, on the environment as well. So Lina, give us, you know, give our audience a few examples of these initiatives and how might they affect the SDGs?
Lena Siep 3:30
Yeah, Farah, I think I felt quite reminded of motorsport when I heard the panel on space and on a certain misconception of that industry and technology not contributing or not being able to contribute to sustainability matters. And a few people probably not familiar with motorsport, would think that motorsport has an impact on future proof technologies. So just to give you a few examples from the one, for example, from the past 70 years, has done massive contributions to making our road cars more efficient by bringing in you know, for example, hybrid, compact engines, or bringing in technologies such as Spray Technology, curse, kinetic and energy recovery systems, developing tires that are sustaining, you know, different environments, all of these really, really massive steps and innovation have contributed to making our cars that we drive every day more efficient. For example, the catalytic converter was first used in Formula One before it was then widely used in road cars. And I'm not just saying that to give motorsport a certain spin, you know, as would be my job as a PR person. But I'm also saying this because few people when they hear Formula One or motorsport, you know, think of, you know, the wider impact of that sport as a technology platform and a development platform for different industries. And I'm not just talking about the car industry, but also different other industries and branches using that technology. For example, to You know, apply it, for example, the medical industry, I think there was a very good example when COVID hit the world in 2020. And in Great Britain as pretty much everywhere, that was a scarcity of medical equipment. And Formula One engineers came together to develop a ventilator machine to help hospitals with treating COVID patients. And they did that within a split second, which would take, you know, a lot of industries years, and that is because Formula One in particular, has, you know, some of the most forward thinking in innovative and dynamic engineers in the world, and they have always been able to push the boundaries of industry standards. And I think this is the mindset that we need within the wider industry to make that change towards a more sustainable economy, you know, to say, you know, it's not enough to go and push the edge, we have to go and push boundaries become better constantly improve, and, you know, apply all of those learnings to wider industries.
Farah Nanji 6:02
Absolutely. And I've had many conversations with people Formula One who have all commented on how if only the government's handled the pandemic, like how Formula One teams did, because it was one of the first bullets to come back and be able to operate in a safe manner, given that it's in 22 countries around the world. And when drivers got COVID, they managed to, you know, handle the situation. So you mentioned, you know, it can impact Okay, not only just healthcare, but what other industries, you know, do we see the the technologies that are pushed to the absolute limit on the racetrack, that then contribute to other industries, and ultimately, a more healthier planet.
Lena Siep 6:38
I want to give you an example from the racing series that I'm currently involved with, with extreme E. It's a racing series that was entirely built on the, you know, battling climate change, and, you know, making the wider fan base aware of climate issues in remote areas. It sounds like in contradiction. And at first, I admit, when I heard about it, I was like, you know, what, how do you know racing electric SUVs and remote environments? How does that help the planet, but with a purpose of trying to show what an impact, you know, climate change has on remote areas and the communities there. And by actively supporting people on the ground with projects with initiatives and everything, we have managed to actually reach the traditional motorsport target group and make them aware of these issues and also excite them about technologies that are to come. And one is, of course, electric mobility, but also, for example, that electric racing cars and extreme e are charged using solar power, and the hydrogen fuel cell, meaning that it's an absolute net zero carbon technology that we race with on the ground, and all the facilities on the ground are charged, not just using diesel generators, for example, but using Second Life batteries, and you know, all of these sorts of little steps communicated well, and are could contribute to people being more aware of the issue accepting technologies more and you know, becoming more interested, generally and involved in such initiatives.
Farah Nanji 8:11
Absolutely. So let's dive a little bit deeper into that, you know, transition of cleaner energy. How does not, of course, extremely, but also formula II, and the other other leagues that we have, promote, and create that sort of r&d necessary that for other energy companies to then, you know, affect the the other industries.
Lena Siep 8:33
I mean, I think motorsport has the benefit of having a massive followership and a lot of fans around the world, so many partners are getting involved and helping to create that r&d. We're working with partners from the tire industry, we're working with partners from the energy sector, we're working with loads of different research, extremely even has its own research lab. So scientists coming with us to the races conducting research on the ground, and you know, bringing that knowledge with them. And I think that exchange between different industries is something that works quite well on the small scale just as motorsport, but we are applying that knowledge to for example, you know, every Formula One team has wind tunnels running and while they use a lot of energy, we're also renting those out to other industries who use them to conduct research on aerodynamic purposes. And that then goes that knowledge goes into for example, aeroplanes or you know, ship and all those kinds of things. You know, and speaking of Formula One and you know, developing new power trains, of course, there is a disruption here because we're speaking of a sort of old era where big engines were acceptable and where it was okay to kind of focus on the entertainment and sport of competitive sector angle of the sport, but I think now, they are committed to you know, making a change and becoming carbon neutral by 2030. They are working on device loping sustainable fuel alternatives. And those then can be used, for example, for air fried, or for logistics, and ships. And this is something that is also benefiting other industries.
Farah Nanji 10:12
Yeah. And even space, as we were talking about both industries work very closely together. And so what are the challenges in sustainability for motorsport?
Lena Siep 10:22
I think the biggest challenge is one that we share with many other industries. If you look at the emissions caused by Formula One, for example, you have under 1%, are coming from the power units, you know, used on the race circuits, whereas a lot of people think this is the issues cars driving around in the circle. They are causing emissions. But of course, this is nothing against the amount of cars on the road out there. Over 70% of emissions caused by Formula One are coming from air, freight and logistics of Parks and People and fans travelling to those races. And this is something that is a shared problem across pretty much every industry, but not only Formula One, but also other sports, and wanting to find what we want to find solutions. And I think Formula One, for example, is in a good position of being able to conduct research and bring solutions to the table. Also, by creating more efficient movement planning, this is something that is super important when you're shipping stuff around, that you're thinking about if you can make it bulk, or, you know, moving every part around like that was the case until a few years ago. So these logistical planning tools are also developed in motorsports. And then, you know, used in other industries, for example.
Farah Nanji 11:40
And perhaps one of the, you know, the barriers is the mindset, right? Because as you've mentioned, it's the shift of mindset is what people don't see behind closed doors that really don't realise just how this ecosystem operates. So how have they been able to turn these ESG standards into a top level priority?
Lena Siep 12:00
I think the biggest challenge for motorsports in general is to tap into that same potential of existing petrol had motorsport fans and take them with us into the future. So you know, give them that passion and excitement that they know from, you know, motorsports before, and take them with us so that they will follow, for example, our values in terms of promoting gender equality, social causes, you know, sustainable alternatives to those few engines, and all these kinds of technologies that are needed to make that step forward. This is a comms perspective, we need to be able to bring up storytelling that is exciting. And that, you know, makes people want to follow motorsport, and want to go with us for that step. But I think we are also tapping into a new potential of target groups that is coming to get excited about motorsport, for other reasons. You know, we are working with so many different initiatives. And when we look at for what extreme E, for example, having women, women and men race together as the first racing series, this is a massive step that we've taken. And I think this has grown the female fan base enormously, and also showed women that you know, they can take that step. There is so much more interest now from girl drivers to become involved in motorsport. And they see, you know, these girls have made it there on the podium they can when they're just as good as the men and they're daredevils. I mean, if you ever get to watch an extreme erase, do so because it really is tough racing. It really is something where you can see that these drivers. Yeah, they're not shedding tears when they're driving over rocks and stuff. And it's just something that that personally gives me a lot of hope, that we can use that enormous platform going forward to convey valuable messages and do so with partners that we have brought on board. Arctic base camp was one of our partners, when we had a race in Greenland. So yeah, this is something that is quite cool.
Farah Nanji 14:13
Yeah, and let's, let's go a bit deeper into this into this topic of equality, because it is, of course, an SDG about gender equality and what have been, you know, the barriers to getting more women into motorsport? Is it mindset, Is it money? Is it
Lena Siep 14:28
both? I mean, I can tell you from my personal experience, when I started in motorsport 15 years ago, I mean, I was told by my first boss, that women don't belong on a racetrack. So I would stay back in the office while the guys would go to the racetrack. I was, you know, trying to get into the job and super interested and, you know, when they came back, they sort of handed me their back with a closing track closing and said, Well, you can get this watch. I was like, what? Well, this is the mindset that's changed. 15 years on, and we have those women drivers, and they are competing against men, and they have equal opportunity. It's a first step, we don't have great girls anymore. Now we just sort of focus on various people want to get involved and promote the sport, not just girls in bikinis. And, you know, these are small steps. And I think when you speak to our drivers, female drivers, you will hear more of the stories where they came into motorsport, and there was just simply no overalls made for women. So they would have to fit into the male overalls, which were too big, and, you know, this is a disadvantage and all these kinds of things, you probably have your own stories and your own experiences from you know, your time and motorsport. And I think there's just so much more that we can do going forward and, and help helping girls, you know, have that confidence of, you know, pursuing a career in motorsport, not just as drivers, but also, you know, as engineers, as team leaders. And, you know, people like Suzy vols have done a lot for I think women in motorsport, because she's a team, Chef, and she's doing you know, that job as a boss brilliantly.
Farah Nanji 16:08
Yeah, no, absolutely. I'm actually a volunteer for Susie's initiative of what was called Dare to be different. But now as acquired by the FIA, and is called goes on track. And for anyone who doesn't know, what they do is they really go into that grassroots level, and they go to schools, from all sorts of ages, from, you know, seven, eight years old, where you need to start when you're, if you're thinking about Korean motorsports, as a driver, all the way up to sort of 16 years old, and they, you know, they they bring in the the lady that might have been working on the wind tunnel for the Mercedes f1 team, to showcase that, you know, there's a career path and that and there's so many different aspects, there's medical, there's PR, there's, you know, cuisine, there's so many different aspects, right, motorsports is a business, and every aspect of business comes together to really, you know, operate in the level that they do, and it's the best of the best. But you know, and then having people like that champion, the cause is extremely important, because if she wasn't doing it, nobody else was. And up until now, I think they've touched more than 30,000 school children, which is, you know, phenomenal achievement. And then in a similar vein, obviously, W series as well, which, in such a short space of time, they launched one year before the pandemic has now got, you know, is it Caitlyn Jenner is the new team principal, you know, has Jamie Chadwick and is, and most importantly, has created this partnership with f1, which, you know, that is a huge step and to be able to achieve that, you know, during a pandemic, you know, is absolutely amazing. So, you know, you're coming from a PR background, and I'm sure, you know, we can agree that, you know, Motors was quite exciting to communicate a message from so how do you think the industry is really working to communicate this effort, but because, you know, a few years ago, before f1, got acquired by Liberty group, Liberty Media Group, you know, there wasn't this much heightened awareness about it. And formula II was designed with sustainability at its cause everything was designed on how can it be sustainable rather than fix the problem later? So from a PR perspective, you know, what is the actual communication? Through this,
Lena Siep 18:18
I think you can see some some new trends in, you know, trying to bring an interactive communication tool into motorsport. You can see that from Formula II, where, you know, people at home can actually vote for the drivers, you can see it in extreme II, where we don't have any spectators at the racetrack, which is part of our efforts to be sustainable because logistics and fans travelling through the racetracks would cause emissions. So there is no audience at the racetrack, people are watching from home, this means that you have to be much more creative with picking those people up and showing them what's going on and involving them in the action. Most of it is done through social media, of course, and the drivers play a crucial role, as you can also see from Formula One, I mean, lots of initiatives in Formula One are sort of being conveyed messages by the drivers. If you think of Lewis Hamilton, bringing in that black lives matter and you know, more diversity and things like that, the Hamilton commission talking about, you know, how, you know, they can promote more black people in motorsport. And, you know, the same applies to many different aspects. I think Sebastian fettle was seen last at Miami a Grand Prix with a shirt saying, you know, Miami Grand Prix 2050 no longer or underwater or something, because, you know, he wanted to raise awareness for the, for the for the effects of climate change on countries like Florida. And I think this is something that is is is helping the divers have a lot of following Nico as well. Nico Rosberg has become the probably the most adverse ambassador of sustainability across probably all drivers. And he will use this tool of course, because he's got it Voice is getting involved with lots of different initiatives such as when a sports for climate action and Christina fig wears countless in campaign which has also been joined by extremely themselves. So we are sort of a hub to connect the industries, the OEMs, car manufacturers, different sponsors and partners, with NGOs with, you know, different projects and initiatives around the world. And, and this storytelling then is a new aspect to motorsport. For example, we planted mangrove trees in Senegal at our last phrase with extreme E or we helped Saudi Arabian women who are into traditional crafts and artisan ship to commercialise their art by, you know, giving them cameras and video equipments and coaching together with one of our partners. And this is a new initiative for those partners, because traditional sponsors in motorsport wouldn't get involved in off track activities such as this, but it opens up new tools of communication for those partners to and they think, Wow, this is cool, I'm not only getting, you know, to speak about competition, and about the driver isn't about the action, I can only also use this as a platform to you know, convey a message, that we promote gender equality, that we're helping communities who are affected by climate change. And this is, I think, a very powerful tool for communicating, you know, values around SDGs. And doing so to maybe a community that would naturally get involved with this, because we hear I think, in Davos, as much as you know, Christina, from the space panel said, it's a bubble preaching to the choir. And that won't help but if you think about the motorsport community, this is a really powerful new target group to get into, you know, SDG said, all of the matters that, you know, we know are problematic, but haven't traditionally been on the minds of someone watching from Taiwan.
Farah Nanji 22:10
And talking from perhaps an impact investment perspective, what would you say are the sort of barriers you know, to that as well? On that note, do you mean motorsport? Yeah, motorsport motorsport initiatives, motorsport companies drive. I mean, we know drivers is a bit of a longer game to really, and the levels of investment required, of course, yeah. But from for companies, you know, from an impact investment perspective, what are the what are the barriers?
Lena Siep 22:37
For finding sponsors, you mean, as teams, I can see that it's, it has become much more difficult, it's always been difficult to find sponsors. And may I use this panel to say, if anyone is interested to sponsor Rosburg X racing and extreme II very welcome, because that new message that we're trying to bring across is way more complex. Motor Sport, as such, was always a complex matter if you talk about technology, and about, you know, all of the aspects of competition. But now, we are speaking about matters that are highly political, that are very different difficult for some of the companies that were traditionally involved with to take on and bring across. So it takes much more, I'd say stamina, and also some companies who really want to go and help bring things forward, get involved with those projects that we support on the ground, get involved with finding solutions, not just you know, give us money to put a sticker on the car. Because in this age and time, I think this is no longer the way to go for sponsorship anyway, I think sponsoring a team and then becoming involved in initiatives that support people that are affected by climate change that supports social and gender initiatives. All of these things require much more input than money. And as Lauren said, it's not about the money. So when you think about impact investing, that's just a single aspect, but you need the manpower and you know, the people the passion to come on board and properly work with us. And this is something that I think Nico has a team of 20 people who work with me, all of all of us are working within a very, very, let's say, passionate and almost family like network of people. It reminds me very much of what Lana said up. All of those people really want to do good really want to help want to step forward. And within that mindset, it's not only about commercial aspects, which makes sponsorship and investing more difficult.
Farah Nanji 24:50
Well, talking about that, I have to ask you, you work with a you know, former Formula One driver, how has he pushed you to be you know, to unlock your butt? Human Performance?
Lena Siep 25:02
Well, I think it helped that we were both at a stage of our career when we met, where we both wanted to give our career a more purposeful twist, so to speak. And coming from the same background helped us to understand each other. So that was really an aspect that, that helped me a lot. And him as, as a person, I learned so much from him, because I can clearly say that whatever he's doing is done out of having values. And some of them are, you know, quite traditional in terms of family being the most important thing for him, and not, you know, his career, he ended his, you know, Formula One career at the height of his potential as a world championship, world champion. And he did so for the sole purpose of focusing on something that was less ego driven, and helping others more helping society helping the climate and the planet, because he had just had two children. And his daughter's sort of opened his eyes. And I think he's doing that with us as a team, we have a very young team, so a lot of us are already sort of in the space. But, you know, they also came to Niko, to be involved in motorsport. And, you know, now we're twisting, and we're pivoting our purpose. And I think it helps us all to see, yeah, there is something else than just making money. And we can, we can come together and create something very, very powerful with his voice.
Farah Nanji 26:30
Fantastic. I'm sure it must be such an incredible honour and inspiring day to day working, working with him.