Sarah Pelling, 33
Global head of public relations, Ineos Automotive
What was your first automotive job and why were you interested in the industry?
My first job was as events press officer for Jaguar Land Rover. I have been around the automotive industry since I can remember. In fact, my mother, Liz Pelling, has worked for Ford since before I was born. One of my earliest childhood memories is attending the Goodwood Festival of Speed. Because I was so fascinated by my mother's working world, I naturally wanted to follow in her footsteps.
Your greatest achievement?
It was being promoted to global head of public relations at Ineos Automotive. Imagine being given the opportunity to start from a blank piece of paper. That's what Ineos Automotive has been for me. I get the chance to shape a PR department and play a role in growing an all-new business. I feel humbled that at 33 I have this responsibility. Without question, it has been the biggest milestone in my career to date.
Born: Essex, England
Education: Bachelor's degree in event management, University of Gloucestershire, Cheltenham, England
What was your biggest failure and what did it teach you?
Burn out. It's something many of us have experienced. That's especially true because of the pandemic. We push ourselves and don't take our mental and physical health into consideration. Yet, it's vital that we do. It's tricky to have the right balance when you work in high-pressure jobs. That's something I'm learning to get right and want to instill in my team.
What is your current challenge at work?
There are benefits when working for a startup. There is usually no red tape, no historic way of doing things. We can create a process that's right for us. Having said that, we are still developing the business while simultaneously launching a product. Our infrastructure is growing each day and isn't all in place. This is the challenge. Simple things one might take for granted at a large, established automaker just aren't there yet. So, it's a daily challenge, but at the same time, it's a great opportunity to do it the right way for us and, most importantly, for our customers.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
Empower your team. You are only as good as those around you. One individual, no matter how brilliant, can't achieve everything. I have thrived when working under management that empowers the team. I know firsthand the positive impact it can have on both an individual and a team's performance.
2020-present: Global head of public relations, Ineos Automotive, London, England
2019-2020: PR manager, Ineos Automotive, London
2017-2019: Global product PR manager, Rolls-Royce, Goodwood, England
Jan. 2017-Nov. 2017: Senior manager, Influence Associates, London
2012-2017: UK events press officer, Jaguar Land Rover, Coventry, England
2011-2012: Freelance events management, London
What advice would you give to a person considering a career in the auto industry?
You should be passionate and work for a brand you can take pride in and show up for every day. That includes the good and the bad days.
What job do you really want to have in the future?
I would like to continue to grow as a communications leader within our industry. I want a role that challenges me, continues to feed my passion and allows me to work with incredible individuals from across the globe that push me to better myself. The industry is changing. I want to help lead that change, moving it forward into the future.
What do you do to relax?
Now that we have moved to the countryside, I love gardening and hiking with my dog, Finley. It helps to relax the mind and lifts my energy level.
What is your dream location to live?
I think I have found my dream place to live in the Surrey Hills -- although I would never turn down an opportunity to live abroad. My partner and I both have roots in the U.S., so who knows what the future holds.
What is your favorite driving song?
I have so many. However, one of my favorites is "Sultans of Swing" from Dire Straits. That song takes me back to many road trips I took with my father as a child.
What was your favorite road trip and why?
In 2015 and 2016, I was lucky enough to be part of a convoy that followed the renowned Mille Miglia endurance race around Italy with Jaguar. It was the most unique and also most humbling experience I have had. The crowds, routes and ambiance were intoxicating. Italy will always hold a special place in my heart.
What was your first car?
It was a Ford Fiesta.
My daily drive is done in a Land Rover Discovery 4. However, we also have an Audi S3 for fun trips out.
If you were a car, which one would you be?
I would be a Jaguar XK120. It's one of my favorites and a true British classic.