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Jo’s Diary: Fast friends

2 weeks ago

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Joana Fidalgo | Engineer


8 May 2024

Holidays: the time of the year to offload all the day-to-day worries that have been piling up in the back of your mind like dirty dishes in a sink. Yet, kneeling on the concrete floor at the Algarve International circuit, better known as Portimão, trying to mop the ground with a bunch of old rags I’d pinched from a race team a few garages down, hurriedly soaking away all the power steering fluid raining down from our car, I have to ask: is this relaxing?

Just over a year ago I switched day jobs and now work in Business Operations for an automotive advanced design studio. You might think that’s a big side step from engineering, but I find it not too dissimilar to my previous role in strategy. Sure, the type of problems changed, but I still look at each day as a thousand-piece puzzle I need to put together. The difference is that with operations there is far more urgency. No longer am I looking at hypothetical scenarios happening in five or even 10 years’ time; today I am dealing with facilities, suppliers and, mostly, people. So, imagine that I’m putting that puzzle together with a giant sand timer suspended over my head, while a dozen cats casually bat pieces off the table with their paws. Sometimes my hair is also on fire.

One of my colleagues once described my job as running through a minefield while trying not to get an arm or leg blown off, which feels remarkably accurate. And, while my brain really enjoys finding ways of running faster and safer, after doing so for a prolonged time it will throw your fight-or-flight response out of whack. This is why being here, knees on the floor, wiping away the growing pools of green fluid from underneath an old GT3 feels oddly like a zen garden.

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