|Claire Williams – Deputy Team Principal, Williams F1|
|Profile of the week|
Friday, 23 August 2013 15:51
Claire Williams is the Deputy Team Principal of Williams F1 team.
After graduating from Newcastle University in 1999 with a degree in Politics, Claire began her career in the motorsport industry when she joined Silverstone Circuit as a press officer in 2000.
Claire was a regular behind the scenes at Williams from an early age before joining the team full time in 2002 in the role of Communications Officer. She was promoted to the role of Head of Communications in 2010, and was duly responsible for all internal and external communications surrounding Williams Grand Prix Holdings PLC.
After Williams floated on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange in March 2011, Claire took on the position of Head of Investor Relations to supplement her role in the communications team.
On the 1st April 2012 Claire was appointed Director of Marketing and Communications, and took a place on the company board. In this role Claire has taken the lead on partner acquisitions, marketing and communications.
In March 2013, Claire stepped up to the position of Deputy Team Principal for the Williams F1 Team. In this role Claire will work alongside Founder and Team Principal Sir Frank Williams to play a pivotal role in the day to day running and long term development of the race team.
By Tom Rubython (Guest Writer)
You took a politics degree at university – why? Politics are very prominent in Formula One especially for a team principal – was that on your mind at the time?
I have always found politics fascinating but I can’t say that I chose politics because I was going to be a politician. If you decide that you want to be a doctor then you go into medicine if you decide that you want to be an engineer then you do engineering. So when you don’t have that then it’s what are you going to do? I probably chose it because when you don’t necessarily have a career path that you want to go down, you can choose that. And politics is one of those degrees that come up and I thought wow and I loved it, I absolutely loved it. It is a good background.
You have effectively got two jobs – you have a team operational role and you sit on the public company board. Which is the more daunting?
I wouldn’t say that the challenges of the race team are more daunting.
I can’t answer your question as to what I find more daunting from a business perspective, I find that responsibilities of both of equal importance.
It is different being a public company director isn’t it? Being a private company director you can do what you like. Now you have potentially onerous responsibilities.
To an extent. There is corporate governance and there is a whole raft of regulations that you have to work within. That is important and equally that is important for Williams that shows that we are transparent in our operations.
It is even more difficult being a Formula One team owned by a public company isn’t it? For example if you decide to spend $100,000 on and exhaust system you have got two hats - you have the team hat and you have got the public company hat. For the team it may be good value but for a public company it is not so attractive?
But that is our business that is what we do and we do not have to go to our shareholders and say we are spending it. It is our business and our shareholders know and understand that is why they have invested in our company.
But when you do that annual report it makes all the difference when you can put a profit down there.
Of course, any company would rather that you didn’t post a loss but a lot of companies are posting losses at the current time aren’t they? Williams has always operated almost like a public company anyway because Frank (Sir Frank Williams) and Patrick (Head) and their general philosophy towards finances was cost control. Long before cost control ever came in because we were an independent team and we were mindful of our spending and costs, any profit was ploughed back into the business. So it has not changed the way that we do our business.
So you think that the attitude when it was just Frank and Patrick is the same now that it is a public company?
Yes, I do to an extent but we do have shareholders now that we are accountable to and that is really important to us, we respect that.
You don’t find that you are having to continually compromise?
Definitely not, we aren’t compromised, no.