In this series I am looking into women’s role in a highly male-dominated field of interest - motoring and motorsports - asking females involved. Part VII. - Red Bull F1's hospitality coordinator from Hungary
The earlier episodes of this series dealt with high-profile contestants of mostly national racing series, but now we are heading into the low-profile life and work of the series that matters the most. The unsung heroes of Formula One work quietly in the background, do their jobs on location as a clockwork. They are largely ignored by the cameras, but without them there would be no reason for the cameras to be there in the first place. Meet Red Bull’s F1 hospitality guest service coordinator from Hungary, Vanda Borsos.
[image source: borsonline.hu]
I was born in Budapest and I am turning 27 this June. After my first year at college, I heard about this exciting job from a friend so I applied to Red Bull of Hungary as a Wing Team Member and I spent the next one and the half years with them having an unforgettable time. As a part of this, I managed to acquire a job at the Red Bull Energy Station at the 2011 Hungarian Grand Prix. This is the hospitality area of the team, fitted with a kitchen, a restaurant, offices and the rooms of drivers and team leaders within the paddock. This is where the whole team, media and sponsors of Red Bull Racing and Toro Rosso dine. I was approached whether I wished to travel to more races with Red Bull for the next season and I immediately said ‘yes’. This meant skipping a year at college and quitting Red Bull of Hungary in 2012. I went to each and every location on the F1 calendar. This will be my fifth season as a Hospitality Manager Assistant. My job is very complicated but in essence I am responsible for securing the easy flowing of hospitality matters of the team at each location, the comfort of the drivers and make sure that our guests have the time of their lives.
[image source: redbullracing.com]
The most interesting part of my job is definitely the travelling. Sometimes we visit three different parts of the world within three weeks. Despite it’s not a holiday and there is very little free time available, I meet many different types of culture, people and experiences and I can make up my mind about which countries I would like to revisit later on. Also, there is always some sort of adverse situation or problem coming up that needs to be solved under extreme conditions, so it is next to impossible to get bored in this job. All I can say is that it should be really-really difficult to get comfortable at a “nine-to-five” job once one quits this one.
As there are two sides of a coin, there are also downsides to this job. I would it is the travelling as well. We are on the road for about 25 weeks altogether - including race weekends and tests - plus all the days needed for travelling to the races overseas. We need to be on location before the team is -so that we are prepared for the rush of people arriving. This means - of course - a very tight and dynamic lifestyle and you live out of a suitcase, but as I have little to do in communications and because I always travel home between races, I am able to recharge my batteries from just being at home, together with my partner, family and friends. From this perspective, we are quite lucky, but the members of the racing team - the mechanics, engineers, marketing people, etc. - work in the factory between weekends. They have a family, wife and kids. For me, it would be impossible to endure so much travelling, but this is how the ‘(inter)continental circus’ rolls for most of them.
[image source: marcustroy.com]
Red Bull is a completely unique and pioneering company. They want to achieve excellency in everything, may it be sports, events, marketing strategies, etc. It is very exciting to be part of all this, especially because they value performance and loyalty to the highest regards. In Formula One, I was able to celebrate some of their greatest successes and some of their failures currently as well. People attribute a lot different values to Red Bull in motorsports as opposed to some of its competitors with great heritage - as Ferrari or McLaren - because it doesn’t have the same history as those two. Despite of this - as I mentioned - Red Bull is aiming to get the best out of everything and even I can feel this in my own field. We frequently get feedback on us having the highest quality paddock hospitality at the weekends. This is not only down to the budget, but also the people, colleagues and the hospitality manager who always tries to come up something new, even when everything is working just fine. And this is accompanied by the attributes that is connected to the brand outside F1.
[When people watch an F1 broadcast], they don’t see the essence of it all, because every well-working mechanisms is powered by its engine and there are lots of women working in the background. This might sound a bit ambiguous, but if we take a step back from the cars and drivers and look at the larger picture, it is definitely true to the world of F1. You can still mostly see men in the front line, but in every other fields there are more women than men, including the marketing and communication assistants, the hospitality staff, media reporters and there are also engineers and and team bosses. Of course they cannot ‘beat’ the hundreds of mechanics, engineers and drivers by the numbers, but I don’t think too many people wished to see women in such positions and that is fine.
[image source: vezess.hu]
I, for one, do not miss women from the drivers’ seats or the pitwall. I think the proportions are just fine, but I can imagine that on the other side of the TV screens people might think otherwise. Drivers need to be in extreme physical conditions for excellency that - I believe - is not necessarily suitable for women. We can see exceptions everywhere, but I do not believe for a second that this might cause a decline in viewership.
I was at the right place at the right time, but once I was there I had to work really hard to stay there and to enhance my performance. There are lots of people asking me [what should they do to get a job at an F1 team] or what kind of school do they have to take to get into the circle. Basically, everything works here the same way as outside F1. It helps if you have good connections, but you still need to take the same job interviews for most positions where your foreign language skills and experience matters - maybe even more so than your graduation papers. The same way as with the drivers, it is best if you start at lower levels like GP2, GP3 or any kind of national series. It is definitely harder for everyone not from England, Germany or France, but not impossible.
[image source: f1zone.net]
You need to take into consideration that most of the teams reside in small British towns where they also work in-between races, so you would definitely need to move there. Probably my field is the most open one in this respect as you need to know languages apart from having the kind of personality. If you are open, friendly and you smile a lot, you have a chance to set a foot there. That is why my boss is always looking for women in restaurants and bars according to his personal experience, but is always open to everyone around the world and actually it is an advantage having women from all kinds of nations in our team.
The Budapest race is one of the team members’ favourite as they love the city and it is not a disadvantage to get a hotel room in the centre. It has gone through a great deal of development in the past years and I believe the atmosphere of the race is one of the best on the calendar. To go to the capital and spend a long weekend there accompanied by an F1 race should be something special.
[If I could] I would decrease the number of races to 15 or 14 per season. I love my job, but it is hard to be so much away from home, especially if there is someone waiting for you. Not a huge difference, but with said number of races there would be a highly different rhythm to the season and one would have the time for recreation.
[image source: mirror.co.uk]