Julia Pallé: On a Road to Sustainability with Formula E
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Julia, first of all, welcome to Berlin. It’s a pleasure to meet you!
Lovely to meet you!

Would you like to start off by telling our readers how you got into the world of motorsports?
Well, I actually entered motorsport by chance and I really mean it! I studied to become a sustainability expert in a business management school. I was lucky to be able to take the first proper courses and classifications on sustainability at the time, and wanted to work in an industrial environment. Basically, I got an offer from Michelin, the tire manufacturer company and the department were looking at developing an environmental strategy that will be bespoke to the motorsport department in line with the group’s sustainability strategy. So that was my role in the beginning and at the end of those three years I started to work in supporting Michelin in the tender application to supply the tires for Formula E and when we won, the Formula E team and they recruited me to switch and do sustainability for them.  

To give us an idea, when did that take place?
My time at Michelin was around 2011 or so. Then I started with Formula E six months before the first ever race. So that was in in 2014 and since then, I’m still with Formula E!

That’s amazing, did you already have the passion for motor sports before you joined Formula E?
Well, I always loved cars, and I was interested in motorsport. But, I'm not coming from a family that has anyone working in motorsports. So I was just not imagining that it could be a possible career for me. This is really all by chance, because I really wanted to work in an industrial environment. But yet again, I wasn't really picturing that motorsport was an option on the table. I found this opportunity with Michelin and once I was in motorsport, I realized how big sustainability was as an emerging topic, especially when it was led by a female that I had a cool avenue in front of me.

Were there any events that stands out in your career in Formula E, where you can say “wow, I'm so proud I did that!”?
I’m truly blessed because we've been able to achieve a few world firsts with Formula E. We were the first motorsport community in the world to get certified against the sustainability and events international standards, the ISO 2201 by an independent third party. We were the first port in the world also to achieve net zero carbon since inception back in 2020. So 10 years before what United Nations recommended. A year after, the first sport in the world to achieve science based targets, certification. We were the global sport to partner with UNICEF on all climate related topics and the fund that they have which is called the safe and healthy environment fund. So yes, these are all very, very proud moments. At the same time, it can go down to, you know, the simple conversations I have with some of the team members, where they tell me “you've really gained the respect of the entire paddock”. That means a lot because you know, sustainability in motorsport environment is the topic that you have to battle sometimes with them. And that, that that means a lot.

A lot of pioneering firsts indeed. Is there anything you're looking forward to, another goal that you would like to see for yourself and the Formula E series?
It's really in the blood that runs in our veins at Formula E, to be always pioneering. But yet again, it's not just for the sake of being the first one. It's all about showcasing that electrification is actually possible. There are two very important things that are being developed and coming. First is all the ESG (environmental, social and corporate governance) trends and assessment and rankings. Just last year, we had two independent ESG assessments. We we've been ranked number one each time, either in terms of motorsports or in terms of global sports. And I see these completely booming in the next couple of years, so the ESG and conduct of the sustainable risk assessments are going to be really becoming a normal standard for most sports organizations.

On the other end of the spectrum, something that I'm really excited about is the development of all the social related projects, especially around diversity, equity and inclusion. So how we bring on more gender balance. I mean, you know, provide the environment and representation at the same time, same for ethnic minorities, same for people having different sexual orientations. And so on and so forth. We need a sport that reflects the public, and the public that feel inspired by a sport that reflects who they are and what they want.

Round 8's winner of the Berlin ePrix, Nick Cassidy of Envision Racing leading the pack on his Jaguar I-Type 6 vehicle. © Formula E / Sam Bloxham

Formula E attracts a lot of young families from the cities that you visit. What would be your advice to any young girls, getting interested in motorsport?
I would start with a recommendation on what to do this weekend! There's a section in the Allianz Fan Village called the “formula students”. And I would definitely recommend you check this out with your kids because it's a group of six universities that have gathered to build their own electric vehicles from scratch. I think, it’s a really nice way of starting a project yourself if you're interested to work in motorsport, because the teams obviously are mixed. You will see young females coming from different engineering or technical mechanical schools that will be there and I think it's always very important to have a role model. That's also the opportunity to make good contacts and talk to someone that supports and advises you like your next steps as a career

And of course, my advice to her would be follow her dreams. If that's her passion, she should absolutely do it. And make sure that, she studies and she qualifies in what she's interested in. Does she want to be an engineer, does she want to be a journalist? You can be many, many things in motorsports. You don't have to be a technical expert… and to be stubborn!

Do you have a favorite Formula E racetrack to visit?
Actually yeah, I love Mexico! Mexico’s racetrack itself is quite spectacular with this huge grandstand that is filled with people that cheer up and do the wave when the cars are pass by. I find the atmosphere absolutely amazing. It's also an audience that is really quite keen on Motorsport. They really love it. I think it's always a very special race. Then, and it’s probably the French side of me, but I love Monaco. It’s such a historic place to race and it's so fantastic to have Formula E racing on the exact same track as Formula One. Even delivering a much more exciting show because literally the guys overtake so much. While in Formula One, it’s not possible because the cars are too big. So that’s really exciting!

We can’t let you go without asking you this question: What car do you drive at the moment?
Well,I don't drive a car! Probably a disappointing answer, but I don't have one because the reality is that we travel all the time! I don't need a car, and if I have to get around then public transport is enough.

Thanks for your time Julia!
My pleasure. Have fun this weekend. Thank you!

Photos courtesy of Formula E.

It's really in the blood that runs in our veins at Formula E, to be always pioneering. But yet again, it's not just for the sake of being the first one. It's all about showcasing that electrification is actually possible.
Julia Pallé, Sustainability Director at Formula E