ROKiT Venturi Racing’s Susie Wolff: Calculated risks, a racing career reset, and finding the right balance
This Q&A series spotlights people who have done something extraordinary in their career and pushed the envelope in their field. It provides a glimpse into their motivations and what inspires them.
Spotlight on: Susie Wolff, ROKiT Venturi Racing Team principal, shareholder, and former race car driver
Susie Wolff has been the team principal and shareholder of Venturi’s Formula E team since 2018. Before driving the business end of things, Wolff for most of her life had her hands on the wheel of a race car. Starting out with karting as a small child, she advanced to Formula Renault single-seat racing in 2001.
In 2014, Wolff raced at the British Grand Prix, becoming the first woman to take part in a Formula One race weekend in 22 years. A year earlier, she received an honorary fellowship at the University of Edinburgh, recognizing her role as an ambassador for women in sport. Wolff competed in many of the top world races until she retired from the track in 2015, vowing to do what she could to help other women in motor racing.
Wolff shared her thoughts with us about taking calculated risks, changing her career, and finding inspiration from biographies.
Why is it important to take risks in one’s career?
I think it’s not just about taking risks, but it’s about taking calculated risks. You can never fully predict what the outcome will be for each decision you take, but you need to rely on your gut feeling. You need to be OK with the worst-case scenario from the risk that you’re about to take. If you can cope with the worst-case scenario, then absolutely take the risk.
I’m not someone who takes huge risks in my life without any feeling of what the consequences could be. But in the end, you also have to push yourself out of your comfort zone and realize that sometimes you have to jump into the unknown. You need to trust your instincts and have enough self-belief to make it work.
Share a project scenario or point in your career where you knew it was time to go in a different direction. How did you reset, and what was the outcome?
I absolutely knew it was time to end my racing career. It was very clear for me. I knew that I wanted to walk away from being a racing driver and start with something completely afresh, more on the business side. Initially, I didn’t think it would be motorsport, but it turned out that it was, and I’m very open minded. The job that I’m in now is definitely one that I’m grateful for. I enjoy the challenge. But my gut feeling definitely told me it was time to stop driving.
What is your message to women facing challenges and turning points in their careers?
Trust your instincts. If something doesn't feel right for you, then it probably isn't. Challenges and failures are a very important part of the growth process. Those are the moments that you learn from, and they are the ones that make you stronger. Always remember what your goal is and stay focused on that.
What do you do personally that helps you stay positive?
I think positivity is something you need to be very conscious of. You need to create a life that you live where you have the right balance. Know what makes you happy, and make sure that those are key things that are built into your daily life. And then you need to look after yourself.
When I was a racing driver, I needed to be fit and healthy in order to do my job, and I don’t think any differently now. If I want to perform at the top level in my role now as a team principal, I need to sleep well, I need to eat well, and to look after myself to be able to perform at my best.
Where do you find inspiration?
I read a lot, particularly biographies and autobiographies to learn about other people’s experiences. I enjoy meeting lots of different people. It doesn’t need to be only people I look up to. I think you can learn something from every intelligent person that you come into contact with. It’s about being inspired by those around you and their stories and experiences.
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