Interview by Izzie Holman
Wait? Girls Like F1 Too?
Dora-Maria Castro is a motorsport HR consultant based in Germany recruiting for engineering roles within F1 teams, and teams in other categories. I caught up with her to ask her advice for those wanting to find their way into the industry.
Although Dora focuses on the technical side of the industry her advice is very insightful and will be helpful to those of us trying to make our way into other areas of the industry too.
Technical skills and qualifications speak for themselves, so you need to find a way to make yourself stand out from the crowd. Dora emphasised that interpersonal skills are important too. “I’ve had a couple of candidates that were brilliant in their technical skills but having an interview with them was really difficult because whenever you asked them anything they would answer ‘yes’, ‘no’, ‘maybe’ or one word answers, which doesn’t show the person who’s interviewing you what they’re capable of”. Motorsport is a team sport so being able to communicate effectively is essential.
Dora also suggested that specialising in a specific area, like aerodynamics or composites, is a good idea. Without knowing what a candidate is really interested in, recruiters cannot maximise the help they give. “You have to think about what makes you happy at the end of the day; whether it be mechanical design or composites”.
For those outside of the UK and Europe she suggested that ‘’starting in the UK is not a bad decision”. UK companies and teams are used to having international applicants and are able to easily track your qualifications. She also suggested that companies that “are involved…but not directly a team” is a good place to find more opportunities.
Dora gave some important advice about CVs. “Nowadays there are a lot of companies that are filtering their CVs through a specific software which is looking for key words so sometimes it cannot read [unusual] formats, so it could end up in the spam box or not getting through”. To avoid falling foul of this, she suggests the PDFs are the best formats for CVs when sending applications off. She told me of a recent candidate who submitted a good example of a successful CV;
“His CV was well structured, and he included a portfolio which was made like a booklet on PDF, it was easy to read, we could open the file very easily, it was…optimised with two colours maximum. We do not have much time when we get so many CVs, it has to be clean, it has to be structured and it has to give me information [about] what you did. Always [put] the last position on the top. Nobody has time to read the entire document at first, you have to spark the recruiter…to call you right away, you have around 30 seconds to impress them”.
As a woman in motorsport she did feel that she faced some adversity at first but “if you are consistent and show what your worth is” then you gain respect. “You have to stand behind your words…and show that you are a professional”. Dora was approached by her partners to work with them because she had been determined and consistent.
Dora encourages anyone who feels that opportunities have disappeared during the Covid-19 pandemic not to worry;
“I would not say the opportunities disappeared they are just on hold. Have faith and…stay in touch with recruiters, HR specialist[s] directly in the companies/teams, or any connections [you] can get. Send [prospective] applications to dream companies or dream positions. Never stop learning and get specialised. Do not take just any position out of despair, every time you take a position that [will] be written [on] your CV – think how that would look 10 years from now!”.
I think the most important piece of advice that Dora gave was “you just have to try it; sometimes it’s going to work, sometimes it’s not going to work, [if you fail] you swallow it down and you go further and you try again. There is always a failure but without trying you cannot reach anything at all”. She also said that it isn’t a big deal when you fail, everyone does it, so as long as you learn and grow from the experience you are still moving forward, even if it doesn’t feel that way.
Her parting words were; “Keep educating yourself, stay in touch, look for connections, be friends with others in the field because you never know who is going to open the door for you”. She also wants you to know that she is your number one fan.
Dora can be found on LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/dora-maria-castro-96227a17a