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“Be self-confident in shouting about the Tees Valley”


May 24, 2017

The Tees Valley must be ‘self-confident’ in shouting about its qualities, a leading Formula 1 engineer has told business leaders.

Rob Smedley, the Head of Vehicle Performance at the Williams F1 Team, addressed members of the Business Exchange at Teesside University’s Centre for Professional and Executive Development in Darlington.

He then spoke to Teesside University staff at their annual Working with Business conference.

Rob, who is originally from Normanby and was awarded an honorary Doctorate in Professional Studies by Teesside University in 2009, spoke about his career in motor-racing and how the same qualities which make a successful racing team, such as a constant pursuit of perfection, continual innovation and competitor knowledge, can be applied in business.

He also spoke about his love for the Tees Valley and the importance of STEM subjects in education.

He said: “There are so many great things going on in Teesside and I think we need the self-confidence to shout about them and change people’s perceptions of the area.”

He added: “I think the whole F1 community is very, very interested in education.

“We’ve started lots of initiatives at Williams Grand Prix in order to get the education community and younger people involved and interested, not only in Formula 1, which is something that most young people are interested in anyway, but in engineering in general and in the STEM subjects.

“We are trying to catch the kids early and pull them so that we do end up with really good engineers, with really good mathematicians, with really good physicists, and hopefully we’ll get the best ones in Formula 1.”

The Business Exchange is a network of senior leaders from businesses and organisations in the North East and North Yorkshire, with events held at Teesside University’s Darlington campus throughout the year.

Each event features a high-profile figure from the business world, speaking on a topical theme.

Laura Woods, Director of The Forge, said: “As a native of the Tees Valley, Rob is a fantastic inspiration to us all.  His achievements at the pinnacle of motorsport make him a brilliant role model for young people.

“He’s a very engaging speaker, and as well as entertaining both our audiences with his insights into F1, he had some serious messages to impart about business performance and the need to foster ambition and talent.”

In lieu of a speaking fee, Rob asked for a donation to be made to an initiative he is setting up in the Tees Valley to help young people from less-privileged backgrounds become interested in engineering and STEM through motorsport.

By Emily