Andrea Ackroyd is Alexander Sims’ Performance Engineer here at Mahindra Racing. To celebrate this year’s Women In Engineering Day, we shine a spotlight on Andrea’s journey into racing. Read more below:
Did you always want to do engineering?
No, actually. I love my job now, but I don’t think it was what I dreamed of as a child. I really struggled to choose options for my GCSEs because I wanted to do everything!
How did you get to the role you’re in today?
I was always good at maths and physics, so engineering seemed like an obvious choice at university. Then it was the motorsport related modules which I found myself really interested in. As a child, I was never really into the F1 at the weekends, but this changed when I got to university and found out about the work that goes on within race teams to get a competitive edge. That is what really grabbed my attention.
In your career, what were the obstacles you faced as a woman (if any)?
This is a difficult question to answer, because I have only experienced the industry from the perspective of a woman. Knowing that motorsport is a highly competitive and challenging environment, I didn’t associate any issues or roadblocks I had as being linked to my gender when I was younger. As I have grown older, more experienced, and witnessed the experiences of female colleagues, I have come to the realisation that there is still work to be done in creating equality across the industry. I am lucky to be working with fantastic colleagues and have found my career hugely rewarding, so would recommend that young women seek out supportive, like-minded colleagues and working environments. There are plenty of women that have achieved success and hold powerful roles within the industry, and they want to help others do the same. Finding a mentor or two is a fantastic way to receive guidance on navigating the industry as a woman.
What has been your favourite moment working as an engineer in motorsport?
I think my first race win in Season 6!
Have you felt/noticed a change in the number of women in the industry over recent years?
I don’t think I have noticed a change really. However, having said that, there are still so few of us that going from 1 to 2 is either an increase of one, or an increase of 100%, so it depends how you look at it. I can say that I have noticed the increase in organisations to encourage young women into STEM careers, which I am really happy to see!
What is the best thing about being an engineer?
I love to see the effect of the work I have done, when it results in some success, big or small, for us as a team.
What are the key characteristics for someone working in engineering?
Curiosity. And an inquisitive mind.
What advice would you give to young women wanting to pursue a career in engineering?
Don’t listen to the naysayers, keep your head held high, and stay curious.
Thank you to Andrea for taking the time to share her experiences! She will be back in action at the New York City E-Prix on 9th-11th July.