SQN has been a proud partner of the Greenpower Education Trust since 2019. The organisation’s mission is to inspire young people to excel in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths through a unique challenge to design, build and race their own electric cars.
Although Greenpower’s fantastic array of race events has been put on temporary hiatus due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, there has been plenty of activity behind the scenes to keep the wheels rolling.
It was announced in May that Chris Baylis would be stepping down as Chair of Greenpower’s trustees after five years. Continuing Chris’s fantastic work, which has seen Greenpower continue to thrive, will be new Chair and long-time Greenpower advocate, Deborah Beale.
We caught up with Deborah to find out more about her new role and why Greenpower – now, more than ever – plays such a key role in encouraging young people into STEM.
Deborah, what does your role as Chair cover?
Essentially, it’s being the lead among our board of trustee directors and chairing our quarterly trustee meetings. We have an incredible board, made up of many talented individuals all with differing skills and each member is as enthusiastic about Greenpower as the next. I’m here to support our CEO and the whole Greenpower team in an advisory capacity whenever and however needed and to ensure that as a charity we are always operating responsibly and in-line with our core purpose.
What legacy have those who have gone before you left?
We celebrated Greenpower’s 20th anniversary year last year. It’s amazing what has been achieved over those initial years, by the whole organisation as it has grown – from the founder, all the staff involved in running our events and all of those that have volunteered their time to assist the charity and be part of the trustee board. Everyone that has contributed to Greenpower’s success to-date should be proud of what they have helped to establish.
What was your first exposure to motorsport/STEM and how has this influenced your career?
I grew up with motorsport and the worlds of automotive and aviation engineering around me, due to family influences. I was always determined to forge a career in motorsport – there really was nothing else I wanted to do as much. A real passion for cars exists and has always existed on all sides of my family.
How did you come to be involved with Greenpower?
Back during the inaugural season of the Formula E Championship, in 2014/2015, I was working for a PR agency that had been introduced to Greenpower and that had been asked to assist in the promotion of Greenpower’s running of a Formula E support race. It’s something that came across my desk, and due to the nature of it all, I just couldn’t resist getting involved. So, I worked on the PR for Greenpower for a couple of years until the end of the contract, but even after that always kept in touch with the charity. Then I had the honour of being invited to become a trustee about two and a half years ago. I didn’t hesitate to take the role, and I’ve found my involvement incredibly rewarding.
What do you aim to achieve in your new position?
To continue the fabulous work of those that have gone before me, and to maintain the growth and increasing popularity of the charity – always with the educational STEM and soft skills which Greenpower provides to its participants, being at the heart of everything we do. Paul, as CEO, does an absolutely fantastic job, so it will be a pleasure to continue supporting him and the team.
What is the culture like at work?
We call it our Greenpower family because every single person involved in Greenpower loves what they do, and what the charity stands for, which makes it such a like-minded, inspiring and energetic group of people. It’s the people who drive the charity.
What gets you out of bed every morning?
Goals and achievement. Having something to aim for and getting results. It’s the feeling of accomplishing something.
What advice would you give to aspiring young women wanting to work in STEM?
The world is your oyster – so make the most of all opportunities presented to you, and never let anyone tell you that you can’t, or that what you’re striving for isn’t possible. That applies to young women and men! I once had a careers advisor tell me to think of an alternative career to motorsport: that only made me more determined to make it happen.
What has been your proudest moment at Greenpower?
Undoubtedly standing on the grid at Silverstone last October for the Greenpower Education Trust’s International Final, held exactly 20 years on from the first ever Greenpower race. Watching all the cars get away from the start – built and raced by the amazing young people we work with – gave me goosebumps.
What do you do in your free time?
Running has really become my number one ‘hobby’ over the last five years. It all properly started with my first 10k race, in London, and raising money for various charities linked to Alzheimer’s and supporting carers in the UK. Before I knew it, I was running the London Marathon and other World Marathon Majors – I’ve completed four out of the six of them so far. It’s fair to say I got bitten by the running bug and I enjoy so many of the plus points running has to offer.