Formula 1 means business during Monaco weekend
If the Monaco Grand Prix was once the ultimate corporate ‘jolly’, a glamorous champagne-fuelled weekend of yachts and top-end hospitality for senior executives to network, the times have changed.
Mark Gallagher, a paddock insider who has worked in management roles at various teams, says the business lessons to be learned from the sport itself now provide the main focus and justification.
“Corporate governance has changed dramatically since the crash of 2008. Many companies won’t accept hospitality invitations,” said the Briton, who has forged a successful new career as business author and motivational speaker.
“Going on a ‘jolly’ to Monaco for the weekend quite frankly isn’t acceptable behaviour for anyone in a properly-run business these days.”
There are still plenty of opportunities for living the high life, with private jet companyNetjets saying they expect to handle 170 flights over the weekend, but the Monaco experience is now about much more than that.
As Gallagher says, it is about gaining insights into teamwork, innovation, big data, technology and how to motivate a workforce to produce outstanding results to tight deadlines under pressure.
“When companies of any size look at Formula One closely, they begin to see there are a lot of elements to be on top of the pile in Formula One that businesses could learn from,” he told Reuters.
“Take Mercedes-Benz, the way they have built the team and got everyone working together and pulling in the same direction. OK, Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton might be going at each other hammer and tongs but actually the whole team is delivering.
“That whole teamwork ethos is something that companies spend a great deal of time and effort trying to figure out how to extract from their employees.”
Gallagher, who was marketing director at now-defunct Jordan as well as boss of engine maker Cosworth and head of commercial affairs at Jaguar, said Monaco itself could be presented as a classic case study.
“Risk management is a big topic for companies,” he said. “Well, around Monte Carlo when the teams are planning race strategy, it’s all about ‘how do you take the risk out of it?’. How do you make sure that you cross the line? To finish first, first you have to finish.
“So actually a grand prix like Monte Carlo, where a millimetre wrong decision by a driver means he’s wiped out of the race in an instant — there’s actually quite a lot to draw upon from that.”
Gallagher, author of the 2014 book ‘The Business of Winning’ that mined his Formula One experiences, said there was real value for teams and business leaders in analysing the sport’s core elements.
He cited the importance of strong leadership, with bosses such as Frank Williams who empower their staff, the agility and flexibility of a team like Ferrari or McLaren in responding to challenge, and the sport’s culture of innovation.
“Formula One is increasingly from a business point of view less about just putting a big logo on the car and having some nice hospitality and much more about having a partnership with a Formula One team that you use in your business 52 weeks of the year,” he said.
“I would argue that no businessman would leave Monaco after a weekend of insight with Formula One without being inspired and wanting to go back into his business on Monday and apply some of what he’d learned.”
The glitz and glamour, he said, was more to do with the fans and ‘hangers-on’ than the teams and their sponsors.
“On the serious business side of Formula One, definitely the landscape has changed.”