Russell Howard is the founder of RaceStaff.com, which was established in 2011. Being a former race mechanic, engineer and driver in various national single-seater championships, Russell is as passionate about motorsport today as he has ever been and can regularly be seen at race meetings around Europe, also spending time with universities and students to help the next generation into the sport he loves. We talk to him about his platform, Formula 1 and the motorsport job market.
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Russell, what was the initial idea behind RaceStaff.com? Did the concept change over the years?
The initial idea goes back to 2011 when a friend of mine who was a senior designer in motorsport threw his phone across the table during lunch. He was looking for various staff for an upcoming test of a new car and was struggling. I said I would help and together we just got the staff in time by using both our contacts from many years in motorsport. I remember saying that there had to be a better way, so I created it. The concept is pretty much the same as back then, there is more competition now and we have had buy-out offers but we are proud to remain independent.
What role does social media play in your work now? Has that role changed significantly?
Yes, very much so, when I announce certain roles and include a motorsport contact of mine that’s a specialist in that area who has 60k+ followers and he or she re-tweets it, there is certainly a huge surge on our website stats! Having said that you have to be careful that you are reaching a relevant audience, it is easy to get carried away and only focus on the numbers. LinkedIn is also a valuable tool, our Group called Motorsport Jobs now has over 10,000 members and it’s a great way to reach a specific audience whilst still bearing in mind that not everyone has a LinkedIn profile!
Some quite senior Formula 1 guys are keen to move to Formula E for various reasons such as fewer races meaning more time with family.
Is Formula 1 still considered to be at the top of the motorsport ladder? How do racing professionals see it today?
In Europe, yes, but not so much in the United States where NASCAR is still huge. Formula 1 has the most technically advanced cars and probably the most professional teams in the world. Yet we’re now seeing a lot of interest in Formula E, some quite senior Formula 1 guys are keen to change camps for various reasons such as fewer races meaning more time with family.
How would you improve the business relationship between Formula 1 and platforms similar to yours?
We already have a good relationship with many of the Formula 1 teams but recruitment companies, in general, have had some bad press due to a few that try underhand techniques. As usual, the few cowboys in the industry harm the overall image but if you act with professionalism and integrity, it shows through in the end and you gain the trust of the big teams and candidates alike.
In terms of jobs in motorsport, which specialists are needed most and which areas/fields are the most popular?
Some of the most needed is related to the traditional artisan techniques that are now getting lost to modern technology such as welding and fabrication of specialist materials. On the other side of the coin are simulation engineers and specialists in design software such as Catia. There are also shortages in the innovative side of motorsports such as hybrid systems and battery technology. Motorsport has also lost some good people to other industries like high-end automotive and even Google and SpaceX. These organisations see motorsport personnel as not only being highly technical but also having a good work ethic and working well under pressure.