There are a lot of ways people develop professionally outside of the office, and for WEXer Amy Dunckelmann, becoming an amateur race car driver has tapped into and honed many of the skills she employs as our VP of fleet product management for Europe and Asia. Amy got interested in racing while living in New Hampshire and attending NASCAR and other races at the Loudon track. After taking her first lesson five years ago, she was hooked and started working towards her competition racing license.
Dunckelmann joined WEX a year ago, creating an interesting parallel in her life as she applied her extensive electronic payments experience for the first time to the fleet industry. The kismet of it all is not lost on her. “On the track, I take my new learnings and apply them to my professional life, just as I took what I learned in payments and applied it to my work in fleet,” she observes.
As she prepares for the coming season of racing with her club, Dunckelmann shares five lessons learned on the track that she’s brought into the office.
Have a plan and track your progress
When she first started racing, Dunckelmann assumed “you just get in the car and go.” She quickly realized the need to research the track and focus on what you want to accomplish – from going fast or improving your turns to where you want to place. You also need to have a “plan B” to help handle the unexpected while racing. As for tracking progress, race cars use telematics similar to those used by fleets, allowing her to change performance based on what the data says about her speed, how she’s taking turns, and when she’s accelerating and decelerating.
Ask for feedback
The perspective of people not in the driver’s seat can be incredibly helpful in growing your skills, observes Dunckelmann. Both on the track and in the office, she notes that others can see things she can’t, and so she’s eager to get feedback on what she can be doing better or differently.
Crashing is inevitable
Crashing happens to everyone, and the first goal is to understand what you can do to minimize the impact to yourself and your car. Once a crash happens, you need to get good at recovery – or as one of Dunckelmann’s instructors advised, “You need to learn to shake it off and move on, or you’ll never get back in the car again.” Lastly, just like the business post-mortem, take time to analyze what led to the “crash” so you don’t repeat the mistake.
It takes a team to get positive results
In order to have a good run around the track, a lot of people are involved other than the driver, and they need to be at the top of their game, too. From the track manager who keeps the track debris-free and the flag holder who alerts drivers to danger to the mechanics who change your tires, Dunckelmann observes “It takes the whole team to make a driver successful.”
“If you’re stressed about your performance or how others are driving, you miss the fun and thrill of high-speed driving,” says Dunckelmann. And while driving is a thrill, she notes that learning a new skill and having goals that are not work-related has been a big part of the appeal of car racing. An added benefit? “The track people on pit lane are fun to hang around with!”
Looking for more stories like this? Visit our corporate blog, Inside WEX.