F1 »

Q&A: Monisha Kaltenborn, Sauber CEO

Monisha Kaltenborn: The grand prix is good for India and good for F1...

Sauber F1 Team CEO Monisha Kaltenborn, the only woman to hold such a position in F1, was born in India, and here she looks ahead to the inaugural grand prix in her native country...



Q:
What does the first F1 grand prix in India mean to you?

Monisha Kaltenborn:
For me personally it will be a very special experience, because for the first time I'll be able to combine my work with a visit back to the country of my birth - and, moreover, as part of the inaugural grand prix in India. As the team's CEO it's always extremely interesting to go to a new country with F1, as it opens up new avenues for a team. It can generate new partnerships - in this case with Indian companies - while existing partners gain access to another important market. We're delighted to have Amul, one of the best known and strongest brands in India, on board for the grand prix. For me there's also a personal element in this agreement, as I remember Amul products from childhood, of course. I was particularly keen on their butter.

Q:
When and why did you leave India?

Monisha Kaltenborn:
My parents and I left India in 1979, when I was eight. We didn't have any pressing reason to relocate abroad, but back then there were a lot more options in terms of further education outside India, and my parents wanted to give me those opportunities. Besides, our family business, a two-wheeler dealership, was hardly a labour of love for my father. The obvious move as far as my education was concerned was to settle in an English-speaking country, but instead we ended up in Austria. Vienna was our first port of call after leaving India, as my father's uncle was working at the atomic agency in the city and we liked it there. When we arrived I started at an Austrian school rather than an international one, as my parents thought it was important for me to learn the language properly and integrate into Austrian society. After leaving school I also completed my law studies in Vienna and took Austrian citizenship. That gave me a lot of administrative benefits, but I also had a strong connection with the country, of course, after spending a significant part of my life there. I'm still an Austrian citizen, although I now live in Switzerland and am married to a German.

Q:
What memories do you have of your childhood in India?

Monisha Kaltenborn:
I have very good childhood memories of India, especially of how my grandparents used to spoil me; for a long time I was their only grandchild. I also have some fond early memories of school in India and of friendships from back then. I attended Welham Girls' High School in Dehradun, where I was born. The city is in the north of the country and one of the oldest in India. Welham was a renowned girls' boarding school, and it served me very well. At home I had three dogs, whom I loved dearly.

Q:
Can you still speak Hindi?

Monisha Kaltenborn:
My Hindi is no longer very good, unfortunately, as I haven't had much chance to speak it for a while. But that's changing, as I try to speak Hindi with my kids now and again. My son is nine, my daughter six, and I'd like them to learn the language. My parents are making a real effort on that front, so the children pick up more from them than they do from me. We've got to the point now at home where we only use Hindi for certain words. For example, no one says 'tea' in our house – that's 'chai'. And when the children were smaller and wanted to be picked up, they'd always shout out 'godi'. My German parents-in-law even started using the expression.

Q:
Did you still make frequent visits home after emigrating to Austria?

Monisha Kaltenborn:
Yes, I made regular trips back while I was at school and studying. And my husband and I were married in India according to Hindu tradition, so it was a big, colourful and very happy celebration. Our visits back have become a little less frequent since the kids came along, though. And since 2010, when I've travelled to every grand prix, we haven't had any time to get over to India. So I'm particularly looking forward to going back this time.

Q:
How would you assess the level of interest in Formula One in India?

Monisha Kaltenborn:
I think there's a lot of interest within the country. I get the impression that excitement has been growing significantly over recent months. The closer the grand prix gets, the more media enquiries we've been fielding from India. It's not easy for any sport to find a space in the public consciousness there alongside cricket. But I'm sure that this grand prix will represent a big step towards establishing our sport in India.

Q:
How important is F1 for India, and how important is India for F1?

Monisha Kaltenborn:
This year's F1 schedule comprises 19 races in 18 countries, and it's right and proper that India is now part of this exclusive group. The decision to add India to the calendar reflects the country's global and economic standing. India also represents a very big market for F1 and, as such, has huge potential for many companies, some of which are already involved in the sport. Plus, India ranks as a high-tech hub nowadays and boasts extremely well-qualified specialists. The grand prix could open doors for more engineers and companies to find their way into F1. As I see it, incorporating India into the World Championship is a good move both for the country and for F1.

Q:
Is there a part of your character that you would describe as typically Indian?

Monisha Kaltenborn:
I have a certain calm and openness, which you might say are typically Indian. I can accept situations and deal with them as I find them. Often, getting worked up is a waste of energy, as you can't do anything to change the situation. The important thing is to respond to the new circumstances by retraining your sights and deciding how to move forward again from there. In 2009 we experienced a number of significant developments in a very short space of time. We had to accept what was happening as quickly as possible in order to deal with the new situation.

Q:


Page 1 of 2
1 2  »


Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
20.05.2011- Monisha Kaltenborn (AUT), Managing director Sauber F1 Team
30.07.2011  Bernie Ecclestone (GBR), President and CEO of Formula One Management  with Pasquale Lattuneddu (ITA), FOM, Formula One Management and Monisha Kaltenborn (AUT) Sauber F1
28.07.2011 - 2012 Team Sauber Lineup preview: Peter Sauber (SUI),  Esteban Gutierrez (MEX), Sergio Pérez (MEX), Kamui Kobayashi (JAP), Monisha Kaltenborn (AUT)
09.09.2011- Friday Practice 1, Stefano Domenicali (ITA), Team Principal and Monisha Kaltenborn (AUT), Managing director Sauber F1 Team
09.04.2011- Saturday Practice, Monisha Kaltenborn (AUT) Sauber Managing Director
07.10.2011- Friday Practice 2, Monisha Kaltenborn (AUT), Managing director Sauber F1 Team
24.06.2011- Friday Practice 1, Monisha Kaltenborn (AUT), Managing director, Sauber F1 Team

Join the conversation - Add your comment

Please login or register before adding your comments.

Although the administrators and moderators of this website will attempt to keep all objectionable comments off these pages, it is impossible for us to review all messages. All messages express the views of the poster, and neither Crash Media Group nor Crash.Net will be held responsible for the content of any message. We do not vouch for or warrant the accuracy, completeness or usefulness of any message, and are not responsible for the contents of any message. If you find a message objectionable, please contact us and inform us of the problem or use the [report] function next to the offending post. Any message that does not conform with the policy of this service can be edited or removed with immediate effect.


Methanol - Unregistered

October 22, 2011 11:11 PM

this year has been very good for women power debuts in the racing world. first it was 2011 le mans winning Audi team race engineer. i guess, she too an Indian origin? now F1 world met with the first woman ceo. incredible achievement indeed. great for women. next, women foray into motogp & wrc too? it would be nice. my criticism: had this women been our american or european then the members would have reacting in a different manner. since she is from indian origian, members are jealous. what a losers.



© 1999 - 2014 Crash Media Group

The total or partial reproduction of text, photographs or illustrations is not permitted in any form.