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Interview: McLaren Racing, CEO, Zak Brown and Chief Commercial Technology Officer, Ed Green, and how it takes technology to win

McLaren Racing has a cult following for a reason – and it’s not just about blazingly fast cars. At Smartsheet ENGAGE 2022, we had the privilege of interviewing Zak Brown, CEO, and Ed Green, Head of Business Technology, for McLaren Racing – a brand that has become the premier racing company for Europe and America combined.

Brown is a racing evangelist, entrepreneur and European transplant. As CEO of McLaren Racing since 2018, Brown has successfully provided expert strategic direction and contributed to the business development of the McLaren Racing brands – McLaren Formula 1 and IndyCar programs. Brown is also chairman and co-owner of United Autosports.

Green is the driving force behind McLaren Racing’s technology strategy. He is responsible for the successful integration of technology partners into the McLaren ecosystem and the development of services to support the team’s business objectives. Green’s thought leadership paves the way for a new technology-driven vision for all McLaren brands.

Our conversation with Brown and Green during ENGAGE, revealed the intricacies and intricate work involved in managing and elevating a long-standing brand that claims its goals as winning and being a global company that moves at speed. light. Our very own GeekWire Studios Matt Lorch interviewed Brown and Green to discuss speed (on and off the track), behind-the-scenes tech and the future of racing. Here are some excerpts:

Matt Loch: Zak, Formula 1 racing is the epitome of quick adaptation. Tell us what speed means to you and your team.

Zack Brown: Speed ​​is everything to us, obviously on the track, but the way you get speed on the track is to have speed off the track. Having the right people in the right roles, but also giving them the right tools and technologies to help them go faster. A racing driver is only as good as the power he has. And the rest of us in the organization are all contributing to making a faster race car. It’s about the power we have to be able to do our job to the fullest. And yes, so speed is a key ingredient.

ML: Ed, tell me about your role and your team and how you help McLaren Racing perform at their best.

Ed Green: My role in the work of the team is to integrate the technological partners that we see on the car. It’s not just about putting stickers on the side of the car, it’s about helping the team go faster, both on the track and in the backstage race. It looks at our overall roadmap and strategy across all of our racing series, which are growing. It’s not just about adding more people to make this happen, it’s about getting people to be as fast as possible, even in the back office.

ML: So Zak, let’s talk tech. How does technology play into your drive for continuous improvement beyond the technology you find in your cars?

Brown: It is extremely important to us. We are now living under a cost ceiling. So we are limited in certain areas as to how much we can spend. Previously, Formula 1 was able to solve its problems by sometimes spending to get by. Now you don’t have the luxury of doing that. It’s all about efficiency, precision and you have to use technology combined with the power of people to be able to drive the most efficient and responsive racing team. Because we’re trying to put a very fast car on the track, our engagement with our fans and our partners has to be very quick and very engaging and very responsive. Smartsheet and Brandfolder are something we use, and they help us tremendously.

We are a team of about a thousand people. And so we’ll be using Smartsheet to get everyone working together to launch a car, which requires factory and marketing, communications, HR, and finance. being able to do this more efficiently and accurately is critically important, as you can then redeploy the resources you were wasting time with to more productive projects.

ML: Let’s talk about deployment, Ed. How was Smartsheet first introduced to your team and how did it go?

Green: We introduced Smartsheet to the team for a car launch. It was the biggest time of the year, and we wanted to make sure we got it right and that there was no better use case to start with than something that would touch all departments of the company. We worked alongside Brandfolder pro services to build us a launch model, which was the most critical moment of our calendar year. We had over 800 different assets to launch in one day, from partners to fans to social media and 800 assets. It made sense to start with something that everyone in the company would touch. And then from there we worked on use cases, from the apparel department to the digital team and social media on the track.

ML: Zak, the really exciting news for racing fans is that McLaren is moving to Formula E. What does this process look like for your team, for McLaren? Explain the steps to us.

Brown: Yes, we are delighted. We are now in five series of races. We have our Formula 1 team, our IndyCar team, our Extreme E team, our esports team and now Formula E. We have also acquired the Mercedes team, two-time world champions. And it was really around our desire to continue to grow around sustainability. We were the first Formula 1 team to win the Carbon Trust Award, I think it was in 2011, 2012. A decade later we are still improving, and Formula E is a great platform for us to work with our employees, fans and partners about our sustainability program. Because that’s racing. They are electric vehicles. As technology continues to grow, we want to be at the forefront of it. It comes from the success we’ve had in what’s called Extreme E, which is a new racing series where you race in five different locations around the world that highlights where the weather has impacted those different regions. . Plus, McLaren has its very first female racing driver, which is great. We believe in gender equality and D and I [diversity and Inclusion]which are very important to us.

Speaker: [Someone from the audience posed a question] You are going to join the initiative of sponsor X at the Austin Grand Prix. Can you tell me more about what this means for you?

Brown: Smartsheet did it for the first time in Australia with huge success. Being a force for good is very important to us. STEM is very important to us. So to see what they’ve done in Australia with Deadly Science, a real focus on STEM, and bringing science to the underprivileged and people who don’t necessarily have access to it is a great cause and something we’re very proud to be associated with. I look forward to our next engagement in Austin.

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