Have a Pit Crew to Get Your Career Across the Finish Line

Looking to build your career resilience to become unstoppable? Then look no further than Tania Seary’s top 5 tips to build your pit crew

In 2022, the BRAVO Women In Procurement & Supply Chain Leadership Program is inviting you to be part of something bigger and to kick off the launch of the USA program in style, Procurious founder Tania Seary opened with a speech packed to the brim with career advice. In this article we explore one of her personal resilience tips: make sure you have your own high quality pit crew!

What is a pit crew?

If you’ve ever watched a Formula One Grand Prix  motor car race or gone to see some rally cars spin around a dusty track, you’ll know there are two types of people: those that get it, aka the self-confessed “rev heads” like Tania, and those who, well, don’t. No matter what side you fall on, when you’re watching a race you know that the pit crew has to be on point for the driver to stand any chance. There is no room for error and winning a race is based on this teamwork. 

During a race the pit crew is responsible for changing tyres, refueling, adjusting aerodynamics, checking and repairing parts, and getting the driver back on course in a matter of seconds. It’s the specialised roles, the tiny car parts and micro-decisions of team members that come together to build the car, the driver is just one tool. 

“In car racing, the skill and competency of the pit crew determines who wins and who loses.  It’s not just about the driver, it’s about the team around them.”

– Tania Seary

Who is in your crew? 

Do you have someone in your team who is loyal and will back you no matter what? Who is always by your side and supporting you to get you across the finish line? You might be able to think of a few key individuals, but have you stopped to think about what role they will play?

Let’s break down the analogy into the types of skills you need and how having these people in your corner will make you successful.

Tania’s top 5 pit crew members

Everyone’s crew will look different, but read on to find out Tania’s top tips to ensure you build the best crew out there.

1. Mentor

Find a mentor. The benefits of having a mentor or mentors is well documented, they are the first port of call for advice, acting like a mirror.

Tania states that a good mentor plays the role of ‘unreasonable friend’ to tell you not just what you want to hear, but what you need to hear. Mentors can help fill any skills gap you may have and connect you with the right networks to help your career grow. 

Sometimes you might already have a good mentor right under your nose – you just don’t realise it. Review your network and see if there are any people that you go to for advice regularly, can you extend this relationship to a formalised mentorship?

Check out Tania’s article on mentoring for more tips. If you join the BRAVO program, mentoring is an important part of the BRAVO experience.

2. Sponsor

Secure a sponsor. “A sponsor is an influential person in your organisation that recognises your talent and acts as your advocate” Tania states. It’s not easy to win the attention and resources of a sponsor, but you won’t go anywhere without one.

Behind every great race car driver is a key sponsor, someone who supports them, opens doors and lets them shine.

In procurement we often find a senior responsible officer or sponsor to help champion a project.  Without a great sponsor the project will certainly fail. Your career is no different. Tania’s tips for getting a potential sponsor is to “do well in your job, make your successes visible, volunteer for opportunities outside of your job description, and generally be awesome”.

3. Refueling

What (or who) refuels you? What fills your tank?  Who are you learning from?  Who provides you with inspiration?  This may be a trusted friend, a mentor, a partner, a peer, a personal trainer, nutritionist, yoga teacher, doctor…whoever it is, make sure there is someone or something in your life that fills you back up, and champions you. Finding inspiration and refueling can ensure that you will last the distance.

4. Your network

Your fan base is your network. Tania encourages you to think of your network as a trellis in a garden: your career is a vine that needs to grow and spread right over the trellis to cover the whole frame.  The trellis is your network, supporting you to grow and flourish.

With the amazing social media tools like Procurious that procurement pros have at their fingertips, networking has never been so easy. No longer is the physical distance a barrier to connecting with people. There are many free social networks like Procurious and free discussion boards and groups that you can connect with on a range of topics. 

You can find more tips to grow your network in How to Skyrocket Your Influence in 2 Steps

5. Mentee

Give back, find a mentee. You don’t have to be a big wig senior executive to provide value to someone else. Often the best mentors are someone who is one or two steps away from where you are, as your destination is either their current reality or very fresh in their mind, meaning they can provide exact advice appropriate to your position.

If you have capacity to take on a mentee, a great way to make a start is to post on Procurious and change your profile tagline to include that you’re looking for someone to mentor, you’ll be sure to find someone in no time. 

Choose to be around people who make you better

So, how’s your pit crew looking? If your critical roles aren’t filled than it’s time to recruit! If you have a full crew but you’re not headed to the top, it’s time to rotate some of the members.

Tania states that ultimately, the speed of your success will be determined by the people around you “make sure you surround yourself with people who have more knowledge and skills than you”.

Her tips for resilience extend to “staying humble by recognising you have much to learn from those older and younger than you. Choose to be around people who make you better”.

Join the Women in Procurement & Supply Chain Group to keep across what’s happening in the BRAVO program and for women in our profession.