Jess Shanahan is a well-known name when it comes to motorsport PR, journalism and promoting female involvement in the sport. A go-getter, the ‘Jetlbomb’ has grasped everything in her reach to earn a reputable name for herself.
Find out how she managed it below…
“I started my own marketing agency in 2012 and soon my love of motorsport worked its way in there too,” Jess explains. “I started working with racing driver and television presenter Rebecca Jackson on her PR and web content. Since then I’ve never looked back! I’ve worked closely with drivers in a range of series, as well as with automotive and lifestyle brands.”
From Team Boss to Racing Mentor…
“Last year I ran the Porsche team Turn Eight Racing, bringing in sponsorship, photographing race weekends and getting the team coverage in the local and national press,” she comments. “Over the past two years, I’ve been inundated with drivers coming to me asking for me to find them sponsorship.
“Juggling marketing clients and a small handful of drivers, as well as my own journalism career, was enough and I found that I couldn’t help everyone. That’s where The Racing Mentor was born. I thought, I might not be able to search for sponsorship for everyone but I can teach them how to do it themselves. The mentoring extends further than just racing drivers, I also help people to develop their careers, make more money and find their dream job
One busy, busy lady! But what are Jess’ highlights in her fun-filled career to date?
“Well, on-track tuition in a Clio RS with BTCC’s Adam Morgan as part of a Clio Cup launch event was brilliant,” she says. “Travelling to Frankfurt with Rebecca Racer and lead sponsor Turtle Wax, roaring around Texas in a track-spec Corvette Stingray, being the face of the Route57 Road trip – all completely memorable.
“And, of course, watching Turn Eight Racing win numerous races during the 2016 Porsche Championship picking up feedback from every driver and individual that I have had the pleasure of helping. Those are my favourite moments.”
Unfortunately, with such a high-profile profession, there are some low points.
“There’s the long hours, a certain amount of uncertainty around income in those early days, and a very small amount of self-doubt,” Jess admits. “All that being said, however, I take everything in my stride and the key is never to regret and instead to keep pushing on.”
That aside, Jess was eager to tell me her top tips about how to get a head start in this competitive industry.
“Believing in yourself is important,” she begins. “If you don’t believe in yourself, why should anyone else believe in you?
“Secondly, you have to keep going – perseverance and determination are the two most important tools. When something knocks you down, get back up. This is what sets the truly successful people apart.
“Finally, don’t be afraid to ask – it’s OK to ask for help. It’s OK to ask for an opportunity. Build a strong personal network and ask those for help or a recommendation when you need it. Just remember to pay it forward.”
Jess is a member of Dare To Be Different, a feminist and an advocate for inspiring women in motorsport. After years of experience, Jess has seen a lot – the good, the bad and the ugly.
“For a while, and I think many women do this, I just looked past the sexist comments and got on with my job. I took a lot of it as banter. Sexist, yes, but meant with good intentions or as a ‘joke’,” Jess tells me. “However, I soon realised that jokes are part of the problem and that simply laughing along or ignoring it only feeds institutional sexism. I now speak out, if something is sexist or inappropriate, I say so.
“Most men welcome women in this industry and while it might be very male-dominated, motorsport isn’t a scary place. You just need to find your place and defend it when anyone suggests you’d be better off fetching coffee. If you want to know how to deal with sexism in the workplace, I can’t recommend Feminist Fight Club enough.
“For the most part, being a woman in this industry is great. I’ve met some wonderful men and women since I started in motorsport and have made friends for life. I’ve also been challenged in a way I could never imagine and have been able to build a successful and exciting career. Not to mention the fact I get to spend my weekends with race cars!”
And, who would say no to that?