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  • Writer's pictureEmily Sharp

Right Place at the Right Time

Emily Sharp hopes to use the knowledge and connections she'll gain at WWD III to springboard her motorsports PR career

We often credit the people who raised us for passing along traits, mentalities, and the skills that shaped who we are. Some inherit red hair, an unwavering belief that anything is possible with enough coffee, and the ability to drive a manual transmission in 2023.

I can thank my parents for giving me all three of those things. But, for me, the thing that I undeniably absorbed from my parents, is my unrelenting passion that has driven me throughout life.

And when I say “passion,” I don’t mean a singular activity or interest. For as long as I can remember, I’ve truly pursued and surrounded myself with accomplishing my passions.

I know, I know – that sounds like a very generic attempt at an elevator pitch, but, allow me to try and explain. My mom shared her love for artistic skating with me, which sent me onto an icy path that I still enjoy gliding across today (albeit in a more casual glide than in previous years). After 20 years of competitive figure skating, I look back and credit the sport with my passion for storytelling and performing, the pursuit of perfection, and resiliency.

As someone who works in communications I now look back and completely understand why I was drawn to the field so much.

My mother has also shared her greatest passion with me that predates my participation in figure skating, but, I will circle back to that later.

My father, a retired truck driver, also introduced one of his passions to me early on as well: NASCAR. Yep, I was the glittering skater who would sit and cheer on Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. every Sunday after practice. Not only did my dad pass along excellent taste in sports, but, he also raised me to never question what interested me or what I was capable of because of my gender.

The lack of women present at the races we watched together was something we discussed a lot. When I tell you that some of the, if not the most, emotional moments I’ve ever shared with my dad was watching Danica Patrick first race and then later lead laps in the Indianapolis 500, it was! That second instance was the more impactful one because at the time I was understanding the ingredients of who I was and trying to determine a college major and ultimately my career path.

I decided on Public Relations with the goal to work in the motorsports industry. By doing so, it would allow me the opportunity to actually share almost everything I was passionate about FOR A LIVING!!

The entirety of my undergrad experience was then spent on immersing myself in as many

motorsport opportunities as I could. I had the privilege to intern two consecutive years with the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach, have a handful of volunteer engagements with the Gorman Ridge Rally, and work alongside some of the industry’s best during my senior thesis in support of Mazda Motorsports.

I felt so lucky to have had multiple once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that continued to cement that I had found what I was meant to do. So naturally, I thought I would be able to enter the field fairly smoothly following the completion of my degree.

Oh how quickly I learned how difficult it was to enter one of the more niche industries! Especially as a young twenty-some woman straight out of college with no professional experience to her name.

So, I eventually accepted a position with an entertainment PR & Marketing firm so I could utilize the skills and degree I possessed. I instantly fell in love with the agency environment as it allowed me to work closely with the senior leaders and gain what felt like an unrestricted understanding of how to run a business. My time at the agency left me craving a more holistic knowledge of how to promote a ‘product’, alongside that constant intrigue for a challenge I possess (thanks skating!) led me to return to school for an MBA in Marketing.

As expected, earning my MBA was the most challenging, yet rewarding, experience of my life to date. Between a devastating car accident that left me bedridden for months that transitioned to being home-ridden due to the Coronavirus pandemic, to being furloughed from the company that I had been with for nearly 10-years at that time, to a house fire in my final semester – I’m ecstatic to share I completed my program last year!

Both during and following my MBA program, I continued to inhabit either entertainment PR or the luxury/tourism spaces. I am grateful to have been welcomed back to my previous company, where I currently make magic as a Premium Experiences Manager.

However, as time goes on, along with how frequently it feels like I’ve said, “Motorsports PR! Yes – that was what I was supposed to do!” during any explanation of my career thus far, I find myself stuck on the word “was”.

I also keep coming back to my mother’s life passion. She has always had this innate desire to help others and make a difference. While I cannot compare the responsibilities I’ve carried as a publicist to those she, a microbiologist, has had with the life-saving medications and treatments she has worked on, the concept of making a difference has stayed with me.

With that being said, the past year has been one of growth and significant self-reflection for me. I feel like I owe it to both myself, and all the little girls and women who dream of working in an industry that is in need of inclusivity.

13 years later since my first lightbulb moment, I know what I’m supposed to be doing in my career.

Which leads me to my discovery of Women in Motorsports North America (WIMNA) and the Women with Drive summit. Within the past few months I have made the decision to act on this knowledge But, this time around, I’m much more aware of the difficulty in entering this industry. As such, I’ve started by reconnecting with my old contacts and joining as many professional groups as possible on LinkedIn. Thanks to the algorithm, a bit of the “being in the right place at the right time” I feel has helped me throughout my career, and I’d like to also think the universe at work, I discovered this incredible page that was what I consider the vehicle for accomplishing my life’s passions and destiny.

From there I got a little more research under my belt, some nerve, and reached out to the Women with Drive summit team as it seemed like the perfect environment for me to network with industry professionals I was determined to join.

I’m honored and excited to share that, thanks to WIMNA and Women with Drive III, I have the privilege to attend this year’s summit in Arizona and document my experiences. My hope is that anyone else who shares my passion will see the powerful work that WIMNA is doing, and will join the event in future years to come.

Please follow along with me during my time at Women with Drive III - Driven by Mobil 1 Summit on Facebook, Instagram and X @wwdsummit.

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