Why so quiet? What is the deal?

A wise man always tells me that in motorsport (and other sports as well for that matter) you swing between business and sport continuously. Hence you end up at some point not worrying about the business aspect; you turn your focus to the sporting side and make sure that you achieve your sporting goals. This is bad news for us as suppliers and anyone else on the periphery of motorsport as it becomes a cyclical business model. Motorsport teams will not have time to talk about strategic hiring issues when they are off racing and they are in the middle of the season; it is all about racing at that point. This is the reason why we have been a bit quite of late; we have also been off to the tracks to network and talk to people. We and the teams have time to talk racing when they are racing, which leads to other discussions later in the year.

However, after Formula One’s mid-season shut down they will start to build next year’s car and they will discover that they need new competence and temporary contract staff to make sure they can deliver on time. This is where they are starting to shift focus from sport back to business.

We are making a big push this season to ensure our contractors get work though the season. We will have many opportunities for anyone whose contract is up in a couple months time to get you right back on another one, so get your CV’s in to us so that we can start promoting you. We will as usual promote the permanent placements as and when they become available, so keep your eyes on this space. You can also send us a note below to make contact.

And In The Beginning They Were … Apprentices. Or: An Exploration into Apprenticeships in Formula One.

Kid on computer

Even though testing is going on in Bahrain, I figured that this might be a better time than during the build-up to a race weekend to publish some insider material from Formula One. According to Apprenticeships.org.uk (part of HM Government’s ‘Skills Funding Agency’) there are some 22.000 apprenticeships available at any time in England. You need to be 16 years or older and not currently be in an educational programme. An apprenticeship is a true door opener as you get to learn a job while making some money; a win-win situation for employers and candidates alike.

Apprenticeships in Formula One

As with anything in Formula One, it is tremendously competitive to get in to an apprenticeship with a team. Most of the apprentice opportunities are in the manufacturing side of the business. Unfortunately Teams will only be looking at candidates with a college degree, but that is not to say that all is lost if you do not qualify for an apprenticeship in Formula One, but I will go in to some early career strategies further down. Typically Teams recruit candidates for their apprenticeship programmes directly from colleges or from a ‘Registered Training Agency’, which, unfortunately, RIMS is not one as of yet. Normally you would spend up to 3 years on fixed contracts in an apprenticeship before entering a fully skilled role. You would be placed in a host department and then would be rotated to different functions. As you can see apprenticeships are great opportunities to be exposed to and gain experiences in a variety of jobs. Hence, it is a good idea to set your aims at Teams and organisations that have a variety of departments and functions that you can rotate through.

Apart from the ‘hard’ skills, i.e. academic qualifications, Teams are looking for the usual ‘passion’ for the sport and a high level of mechanical aptitude in successful candidates. They would like to see candidates that have shown interest early. Hence if you are 12 years old and reading this blog I would, apart from wondering what the heck you are doing on the web, suggest you get to it and try to find mentors in the engineering and manufacturing sectors to spend time around the process. Of course you will not be able to operate machinery, but you get the idea, demonstrate REAL passion and drive.

Career strategy advice

I’ve said it many times before and I will continue to harp on it; find your entry-point! If F1 is your bulls eye and you have not been successful getting in, go to the next layer: suppliers of F1. Especially as an apprentice candidate you have a real incentive to offer the employer, remember the win-win from above? Make a list of 50 companies that supply F1 Teams with services and start calling and sending in your CV, it’s called networking and if you’ve read my previous articles you understand how important that is. Then you spend three to four years working with F1 parts and prove yourself; suddenly you are very attractive to a Team. If you do not have a degree from a college, you may have to start a little ‘further out’ and work your way in to your entry point, it will take a few more years, but at least you are on the right track.

I suggest you take a look at http://www.apprenticeships.org.uk/ as it has a wealth of information and positions available to research. Well, that is all for this time. I hope you got some useful insight and I wish you all the best in the pursuit of your dreams.

Opportunity For A Seasoned Freelance Recruiter/Sales Consultant with RIMS

RIMS zealous crop

We at ‘Resources In Motorsport’ are currently looking to capitalise on our progress and would like to talk to freelance recruiters and sales consultants with extensive experience working with motorsport teams and motorsport supplying companies. This contract would be performance based where the rewards are significant for the right person. The successful candidate will work alongside the directors to maximise client development and sales. If you have the desire and drive to succeed we have the tools and set up to provide you with the opportunities.

Qualifications:
In order to be successful in this role you will have to:

  • … be an excellent communicator and solution oriented.
  • … be well presented and articulate.
  • … be very organised.
  • … be very responsive in communicating with clients, candidates and colleagues.
  • … have a proven track record in sourcing, closing and managing key accounts in a B2B2C environment
  • … have significant experience working with motorsport teams and supplying companies.
  • … have thorough understanding of the job functions in motorsport.
  • … have enthusiasm that is contagious.
  • … thoroughly understand what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur.

The opportunity is suitable for budding as well as seasoned entrepreneurs as our company is very much an entrepreneurial environment; we get the job done! This is not a salaried employment opportunity.

Contact: Christopher Lembke, christopher@resourcesinmotorsport.co.uk

About RIMS:
Motorsport is where people with particular drive and ambition come together to create extraordinary opportunities for innovation and development. In such a specialist field you need specialists to find those candidates and who understand the intricacies of the functions they have to fill. ‘Resources In Motorsport’ (RIMS) does not bring you your ‘run-of-the-mill’ high street type of recruiting. We are focused on bring quality candidates and employers together in an efficient manner. With our 25 years+ in the industry we understand the characteristics and skill set that Teams are looking for. Our services function as an extension of your current capabilities:
• We head hunt and target particular candidates according to our employer client needs.
• We use clever means to attract a range of quality candidates for permanent as well as contract positions.
• We assist employers in matters of Human Resources Management, whether it is continuous or on a project basis.
• We consult and manage high profile candidates seeking new opportunities in Motorsport.

 

Model Cars For Grown-Ups. Model Making in Formula One.

ADM from photopolymer resin

It has been a while since our last edition of our series of ‘The inner workings of a Fomula One Team’ articles, but there is actually some research that goes in to it; we want to be thorough and correct! Again the information is based on interviews with people working in the pertinent field.

This time we are taking a look inside the Model Making department and how (in general terms) they work . As you may know models in F1 are used for wind tunnel testing and experimental aerodynamic testing,  validation and data generation through telemetry. As opposed to the testing using CFD, they actually have to build a physical model of the car with all the intricacies that exist on F1 cars these days. Some teams use ‘smaller’ models, i.e. 40% scale of the full sized car, but they will always strive to test on at least a 60% scale model for more accurate results. Even though Teams are having to rely more on CFD than wind tunnel testing going forward due to regulations, wind tunnel testing remains an integral part of a Team’s process of achieving their goals on the track. A typical ‘model shop’ will consist of manufacturing and assembly groups. They manufacture the parts in many different materials from aluminum, carbon fibre, steel to the various metals and resins used in ADM, Advanced Digital Manufacturing or ‘Rapid Prototyping’. In the olden days they actually used wood and would have to rely on chisels and gouges to achieve the right shapes and angles. These days they use CNC machines and 3D printers using resins and metals cured with lasers, all fed instructions based on the designers’ specifications in the CAD generated drawings. Times have changed, haven’t they?

Essentially the designers will give the group the CAD from which they manufacture the parts for the model. Considering the can be up to 1 000 design changes per week during the season, the pressure from the design department is tremendous. Once the parts have all been made, the model is assembled and a test session is run. The wind tunnel is operated by wind tunnel technicians, which typically have and electronics and instrumentation background. The test is run by an Aerodynamicist who works with the model makers to make changes to the parts and to make sure the data is collected for analysis. This data is in turn interpreted by the Aero and design departments to make a case for implementing the design change on the full sized car. And around it goes again.

This department has traditionally been a great entry-point in to motorsport for apprentices, and still is. However, due to the lack of apprentices, as seen in the news lately (e.g. http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/lack-apprenticeships-holding-back-uk-3187201), candidates are sourced from other functions.  I actually spoke to a candidate the other day that started out as a cabinet maker before ending up making models, which does make sense really. Obviously CNC machinists/programmers, composite pattern makers and anyone with experience of 3D printing technologies have a natural fit in the manufacturing process. A degree from university is not necessary, but many times apprentices are brought in from Motorsport programmes from colleges, so it is competitive despite the diminishing apprentice pool. In terms of transferable skills you would be able to move to any function as a CNC programmer/machinist or composite pattern maker, depending on your function. However, you are also able to move in to operations management, e.g. production manager, if this is the direction you want to go. Key in this as many other areas is to keep yourself up to date and trained in new technologies as they move very fast.

The rapid prototyping element of model making is becoming increasingly common in all types of industries and even in manufacturing processes and thus it is a burgeoning market for good model makers. Hence it is certainly a skill set worth investing in for a life long career.

Below I have picked out a couple of videos to explain the technology and also give a glimpse in to the wind tunnel process.

As usual, keep an eye out for opportunities for model makers, CNC Machinists, Pattern Makers, etc on our website: http://www.resourcesinmotorsport.co.uk. It is also worth pointing out that this week, 3/3 – 7/3-14, is National Apprenticeship Week, to find out more follow: http://www.apprenticeships.org.uk/awards/apprenticeship-week-2014.aspx

Write the Right CV! Some friendly tips.

We at RIMS pride ourselves of being a helpful organisation and sometimes this is misconstrued as being critical and insensitive. However, it is all well meant and will help you get better traction in your job search. We receive many CVs every day, some good and some not so good. Many of the CVs show case that candidates typically think of ‘what have I done?’ as opposed to ‘ what have I contributed?’ Also keep in mind that you have to adapt your CV to the country ‘standard’ for where the job/organisation is based. This article will primarily focus on UK based jobs and organisations.

Employers are naturally interested in that candidates have the skill set to perform the job. However, the key for them is to see that you can do it well. The only way for employers to see this is for you to give examples of how you have been useful to others. For example, instead of stating ‘I used C# code to write a new simulation script’ you should write (if it is true!) ‘The script I wrote in C# for the simulator provided more accurate data that allowed us to shave off 0.02 seconds per lap at Suzuka’. Companies and Teams are results driven and you are a part in achieving those results, thus you need to focus on what you can contribute. As JFK once said ‘…ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.’ In our context you need to ask yourself how you can have an impact on an organisation’s ultimate goal, whatever that might be.

This brings us to a second important aspect; know your audience! If you are serious about applying for a job with an organisation, show that you are! Tailor your CV to sell yourself. Here are a few tips:

  • Read the job advert carefully and decipher what key skills they look for in a candidate, this might not always be clear; e.g. the emphasis might be on academia or experiences.
  • Trawl on the organisation’s website to understand what they do, how they operate and what they are passionate about; does it match your credentials and experience?
  • Find out what personality characteristics the hiring manager goes for and highlight those in your CV.
  • Talk to your recruiter about what key aspects should be highlighted. We are actually, believe it or no, a helpful resource that wants you to succeed.

It is hard work selling yourself and tailoring your CV for each job you are applying for, but if you want to improve your ‘hit’ ratio and get more invitations to interview you have to show that you care. If you don’t, the employer is going to see that and not short list you. The points raised above apply to all aspects of your CV, not only your professional work experience.

We also get many CVs compiled and written by professional CV writing services, and I use that term lightly. Unless the service knows the employer you are going for and are able to tailor each CV to that end, I wouldn’t rely wholly on their skills for every job you are applying for. They will give you a nice layout and give you some good wording to use, but you need to use that as a template, not your standard.

Below are some general key suggestions for structuring a good CV:

  • Use bullet points when you elaborate and highlight key words (don’t go too crazy)!
  • Start your CV with 3 -5 bullet points with your key strengths that will benefit the employer.
  • Put sections in the order of importance to the job you are applying for; e.g. if your academic credentials are more important than work experience, put them first.
  • In each section, list your achievements/experiences in chronological order starting with the most recent.
  • Always give the name of the organisation you attended/worked with, state the from and to dates, if it is not obvious, give the location.
  • In the section about your education always also provide the degrees and grades achieved. Don’t forget your A-levels equivalent, if applicable!
  • If you have a number of publications under your belt, just state how many and give the titles of the ones most appropriate to the job you are applying for.
  • For some jobs you will have a portfolio of projects that you have done, don’t attach them to the CV. Provide the titles of the key ones and perhaps give a link to your drop box where they can be viewed.

Finally, make your CV stand out! Always have a basic Word format of your CV available, but there are some great publishing tools out there that are easy to use to add a professional flair to your CV and make it memorable. If you don’t want to buy one I can recommend Scribus as a good open source alternative to a commercial one (www.scribus.net). I once received a CV from a composite laminator who had a carbon fibre pattern running down the left third side of the entire CV. It might seem silly, but guess which CV I will go to first when I have an opening for a composite laminator? We at RIMS have a layout for our CVs that stands out and as employers flick through a stack of CVs they cannot miss ours. In many countries it is customary to attach a head shot on the CV, but it is not common in the UK. However, I would suggest that you attach one to the CV you bring to the interview so the hiring manager can visualise the conversation that you had when they are reviewing their candidates.

I am sure that not everybody is going to agree with all points given in this article, but I can only convey what we have seen being successful, so take from this what you think would work for you. Happy job hunting!

How’s it flowin’? Working In Experimental and CFD Aerodynamics .

Thank you for bearing with us while we have been off celebrating Christmas, bringing in the New Year and researching for this blog post. As many of you have seen we have also started working with two new clients that both on the forefront of CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) and Aerodynamic research; TotalSim and Wirth Research. With these two new clients it was only natural for us to write a piece on the subject.

For the purpose of this article, we will look primarily at the structure and functions of Experimental Aerodynamics and CFD Aerodynamics in a Formula One Team. For the purpose of this article we will refer to the former as ‘Aerodynamics’ and the latter ‘CFD’. Of course teams are going to differ, but the analysis below will give you a general overview that applies to all teams with some variations. Specialty companies such as TotalSim and Wirth Research will also use different terminology and we will take a quick gander at that towards the end. The general common goal of both the Aerodynamics and CFD functions is to improve airflow around the car and to reduce drag. Once you’ve read to the end of this article (if I haven’t put you to sleep already) you will realise that there is a natural rivalry between those that work with Aerodynamics and those that work with CFD. The reason for this is primarily because Aerodynamicists rely on testing data that is generated by running, in most teams, a 60% model of the car in a wind tunnel, while CFD will use models built in a software environment and run simulations on High Performance Computers (HPC). For those of you who are avid F1 fans and follow such experts as Craig Scarborough on the technical side of the sport know about the restrictions discussed in wind tunnel vs. teraflop (a measure of computing speed equal to one trillion floating-point operations per second) usage. This where the ‘animosity’ between the functions is going to increase quite a bit; teams will have to sacrifice wind tunnel time for running CFD simulations and vice versa depending on where a Team think they can get the best data from. The initiated people that we have spoken with say that there will be a greater emphasis on CFD and that Aerodynamicists will have to spend more time doing CFD analysis as opposed to wind tunnel analysis. Hence, a recommendation for someone looking at a career in Aerodynamics is to pay very close attention in their CFD modules at University!

One aspect that never ceases to amaze is the vast number of titles/functions within these departments. Tell me if you can distinguish between this sampling of titles: CFD Engineer, Aerodynamics Engineer, CFD Aerodynamicist and Aerodynamics Designer. Tricky isn’t it? I think as a rule of thumb is probably that someone working in CFD has an emphasis on computer programming as well as building models for testing in CFD software, while an Aerodynamicist is focused on designing for fast prototyping (think 3D printing) using CAD software as well as building and using software for analysis of how the model car behaves in the wind tunnel. CFD Engineers have a bias towards computer programming, scripting in the CAD software that is used to run the tests and collect the data (Catia v5 and Unigraphics NX 7.5/8.5 are most prevalent in most teams). Aerodynamics Engineers, as it has been explained to us, is a cross over function that does both Aerodynamics and CFD testing. The gist is that in either case a model has to be designed and built, a programme told how (environmental factors) to test the model and data has to be collected and analysed. Every step in process has its specialists that perform the functions. Of course, we shan’t forget the Aerodynamicists that work on the ‘full-sized’ car, either in the factory or track side (or both). These functions collect and analyse data from tests and the races from the actual car.

I think it is fair to say that Experimental Aerodynamicists and CFD Aerodynamicists in Formula One are ‘brought up’ working on individual pieces of the car (e.g. left side of the front wing) graduating to sections of the car and then on to overseeing the whole car. The bigger the Team the more specialised the function is, smaller teams will give more opportunities to work on several areas of the car. If you are looking to work on a broader range of projects and follow the project from start to finish, you are probably more likely to want to seek a career with companies such as TotalSim or Wirth Research.

In Formula One you would enter your career as as a ‘graduate’. This is a ‘test’ position where you are first given a 3 month contract, then if you successfully pass that you are given a 6 month contract. If you are on top after 9 months you will be given the opportunity for a 12 month contract in a ‘graduate position. You are expected to within 21 – 24 months be ready to move in to a ‘junior’ position, where you would probably spend another 2 years before being a fully fledged Experimental or CFD Aerodynamicist! Depending on the team the hierarchy below the deputy heads of department is no less confusing. Below is a run down of the leadership positions in order of seniority:
Principal – is in charge of the development of the whole car or in some teams half the car.
Project – is similar to a group/team leader, but could work on, e.g, developing future cars.
Group/Team Leader – runs a team that develops a section of the car.
Senior – a senior member of  a group or a team.

Above these positions you will have deputy heads and heads of departments, typically the person at the top is the Head of Aerodynamics to whom other heads will report, e.g. Head of CFD, Head of Aerodynamics Operation, etc. This is a bit of a sweeping statement as teams are not all set up the same way, so if it works differently in your team and I put you lower on the totem pole than you actually are, please don’t take offense as none is intended.

Ok, so what does an employer expect of someone working in Experimental and CFD Aerodynamics? Apart from the typical buzz words, like ‘organised’, ‘good team player’, ‘excellent communicator’, etc, you have to be very good with computers, and that is putting it mildly. As a base you have to have excellent skills in CAD software and knowledge in theoretical Aerodynamics. For some positions you need to have strong programming skills (C++, C#, scripting in CAD software, etc.). You also have to have strong analytical skills to understand the data that comes out of the testing and how to apply changes to improve the model. As these qualities aren’t enough you should have top grades with a degree from a top University (think Russell 25). Pay close attention to your math and physics modules (and show them in your CV) because they matter greatly. If you want to work in motorsport you should involve yourself in every opportunity you have to gain practical experiences in motorsport. Formula Student programmes are excellent forums for this. Anyone considering a career will also have to be prepared to put in the hours, there are high expectations to dedicate yourself to the success of the team. Other businesses also expect you to apply yourself, but are slightly more similar to ‘normal’ companies, but don’t expect ‘9 – 5’.

So if you made it this far without falling asleep, you’ve done well and are obviously a big fan of Experimental and CFD Aerodynamics. I hope we’ve opened the door slightly for you to give a glimpse in to the inner workings of Formula One. Keep an eye out for our next installment.

I leave you with a pretty cool video clip where Martin Brundle explains the Aerodynamics of a F1 car: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jYaIXWNOa_A

Ah, These Young Ones With So Much Hope And Enthusiasm!

Last time we talked about the functions that do not ‘touch’ the car, i.e. more business administrative roles within the Team. This article will attempt to tackle and, in some respects, generalise another collective group spread across many department; Newbies. This would refer to anyone in a graduate, apprenticeship or internship programme. These programmes are vastly different but have one primary commonality; they are entry points to working in a team. These are extremely competitive programmes and being selected is an achievement in of it self lest we forget about actually completing any of the programmes. Key to succeeding will of course be to performing well in your job, but there is more to it than that. Teams will be looking for candidates that apply themselves and are loyal. Hence, as the old cliché goes, be the first to arrive and last to leave every day. This is also an opportunity to network, learn and ask questions as you will be exposed to more than one discipline in a team. Can I just mention networking again? You will find that it is as much about what you know as who you know in this business.  There are too many examples where candidates superbly competent do not get called up because they are not ‘known’ in the business, start building those relationships early!

Internships are programmes that run for a specific period of time during an interns studies at university. Teams will announce them during a limited time during the year. This will be the lucky few’s opportunity to connect theory to practice, but also to get a feel for the environment. Most teams have internship programmes; they allow teams to take a first look at the potential starts of tomorrow that might come back as graduates. They also tie up relationships between teams and academic institutions to allow teams to gain access to recruit the best graduates. Every intern’s objective should be that when they put in the application for a graduate position the hiring manager says to him/herself “I remember this guy/girl, that was the intern who….[insert positive aspect of your internship]”. If that happens you probably proved yourself and stood out from the crowd and made a point to make yourself known to the managers (without being blunt about it!). By the way, don’t expect to get paid for your internship, you are there to learn, especially if it is part of your educational programme.

Apprenticeships are similar to internships as they run for a specific period of time, but with the objective to lead to permanent employment. These programmes tend to run in the more mechanical/manufacturing aspects of the teams. An apprentice will also have completed his/her studies and will be expected to start contributing to the success of the team relatively soon after joining the team. You will not be earning much money as an apprentice, but you will have the opportunity to learn the ropes and be exposed to different functions within the team. If you are successful in your apprenticeship you will be offered a full-time, permanent position.

Graduate positions come up continuously throughout the year and you can think of them as entry-level positions with caveats. They are proper jobs where you perform a function, but have the opportunity of learning the practical side of what you’ve studied academically. These positions are typically tied to the more technical functions in the team. The demands for a strong academic degree are high. A graduate employee will be contracted on a 3 month period to begin with, then another 6 months and finally a 12 month contract is offered to the successful graduate. If you get this far you will be promoted to a junior position, i.e. you will be a graduate trainee for 21 to 24 months depending on the circumstances before being ‘hired’. It is tough and harrowing as you do not have much time to prove yourself and you have to very quickly figure out what it is that you have to do to prove yourself.

A couple of final notes and advice to anyone in either of the three programmes above; while at work, turn off your phone, your private e-mail, your social networking sites and anything else that does not involve you furthering your career with the team you are at!