Meet Monisha Narang : CEO F1 Team Sauber !
Formula One has always been a male bastion. From drivers to engineers to pit crews, men enjoy a clear majority while women offer nothing but glamour. But an Indian woman has sown the seeds to change the trend in the high-octane sport.
Dehradun-born Monisha Narang became the first woman to head the business operations of an F1 team last year when the 39-year-old assumed the CEO role at Swiss-based Sauber team. Monisha, who is now settled in Vienna (Austria) after marrying German Jens Kaltenborn, is no stranger to Formula One paddock. She has been working in the sport for more than a decade.
“I think it sends out the right signals about Formula One to the world. I’m approaching the job in hand with a great deal of respect,” said Monisha who has a seven-year-old son and a four-year-old daughter
As a child her ambition was to be an astronaut. But when she made her first acquaintance with the world of motor sport, she was determined one day to compete in the Paris-Dakar Rally. She always had big dreams and achieved them too, with sheer determination.
The confident woman has an impressive CV. After completing her law degree in Vienna she went on to work for the United Nations as well as for German and Austrian law firms. When she joined the Fritz Kaiser Group in 1998, Kaiser was a shareholder in the Red Bull Sauber F1 Team. The group’s legal and corporate affairs became Monisha’s responsibility. She has also worked in Formula One Management under Bernie Ecclestone.
“My role was to negotiate contracts with drivers and sponsors. It was a challenging job, but I enjoyed it,” added Monisha, who was instrumental in setting up the FIA’s Women & Motorsport Commission last April.
At Hockenheim in 2010, she was the first woman to attend an FIA press conference, where she was representing the team’s top management, and in Suzuka she stood in for Peter Sauber on the pit wall stand – both occasions attracting a good deal of attention.
F1 ringmaster Ecclestone recently tipped a woman to replace him at the helm of the sport within three-to-five years – reasoning that the fairer sex have been in the background for too long and are able to decide things less emotionally as they don’t get trapped so easily in their own ego as do their male counterparts.
“I am sure that not so long from now, 50 per cent of the decision-makers in the economy and politics will be women,” the octogenarian had said.
Among half-a-dozen viable female candidates Monisha’s name has also been mooted. For sure, Monisha’s pioneering efforts will open flood gates for plenty of other aspiring women in the demanding world of motorsports.