The ex-Mercedes head of strategy and newly instated chief at Grove, James Vowles, has heralded his first significant acquisition by appointing veteran engineer Pat Fry as the chief technical officer for Williams, previously employed by Alpine.
Vowles intimates that the technical director, who will function under Fry, is expected to come from a secondary role in another team, looking to make significant strides as a lead.
However, what distinguishes Williams‘ recruitment strategy, per Vowles, is their attentiveness towards “diverse thinking,” looking to source talent from areas beyond the motorsport domain instead of merely “recycling” from the racing circle as has been the usual practice. In conversation with reporters at F1 Initiative, Vowles noted, “There are people here who are already part of our organization from [the World Endurance Championship], from Formula 2, from other institutions.”
His focus on diverse backgrounds extends to his acceptance of talent with limited experience in motorsport, a refreshing perspective in the industry. “There are areas here in aerodynamics that haven’t come from a motorsport background. That’s OK,” he adds. Vowles believes that those who understand flow dynamics and are comfortable with empowered roles and frank discourse hold equal value even without a traditional motorsport background. He went on to criticize the sport for “recycling far too much within the sport.”
Reflecting this spirit of openness, Williams‘ newly appointed chief operating officer, Frederic Brousseau – a former employee of the renowned aircraft engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney, was cited by Vowles.
Highlighting the success of their management committee, Vowles stated: “There’s a very good management committee, despite some individuals not having any motorsport background. But “diverse thinking leads to a better infrastructure globally, and that’s what we have here.” He emphasized that while expertise is essential in specialized areas like aerodynamics, a blend of backgrounds could offer a unique advantage.
Vowles strongly advocates for Williams‘ expansion in “everywhere”. He suggested that it was pivotal to have a senior leadership setup to “empower” personnel at all levels of experience. He concluded, “Everywhere is where we need to grow within Williams. I think that’s first and foremost. I strongly believe that you lay the foundations for some of the brightest and best that exist within our country and other countries. That forms the basis. You just need senior leadership that knows how to empower individuals and allow them to grow. So, you put in structures from both ends.”