The announcement of Beth Paretta joining Formula E as its new VP of Sporting has been a long time in the making.

The leading industry figure has had the series in her sights for some time, firstly as Fiat Chrysler’s director of motorsports marketing when she looked at bringing either the Fiat or Alfa Romeo brands into the championship in its early days. She then engaged in talks to bring her eponymous racing team into the series, but it was those talks that led to something much bigger.

“I had a conversation, starting back in December, with (Formula E CEO) Jeff Dodds kind of reaching out, interested in learning more about what I was doing in IndyCar with Paretta Autosport, and if it’s something that I would consider looking at in Formula E,” Paretta tells RACER.

That conversation eventually spawned another, a different one that would see Paretta offered the role of VP of Sporting. It’s a role that might sound different to what an automotive industry exec or race team owner has done before, but Paretta disagrees, and suggests that her resume sets her up perfectly for the position.

“It’s funny, because I think of this – even when I worked in the automotive space, I worked for Aston Martin for years, and in operations, I was effectively the liaison between the dealer network and the manufacturer. And same thing with Volkswagen – I was in finance, same thing, the liaison between the Volkswagen bank and the dealers,” she says.

“It’s tough, just because, when you have multiple stakeholders… this series tries to try to do everything as well as it can, but sometimes you can’t be everything to all people. So where is that common ground? And how do you do the best? And as long as everybody knows that they’re respected and being heard, I think that that’s really the most important thing.”

Paretta’s new role doesn’t mean she’s done being on the other side of the fence, either. Paretta Autosport is still very much going, it just won’t be in Formula E.

“I will still have my race team,” she insists. “(It’s) too early to discuss the details, but we still have a partner team we’ll be working with in IndyCar to start, and are also looking at expanding with that team into other series. We’re expanding with other teams in other series, but the concept of my race team will still exist. Obviously not in Formula E, but I’m fully open to having my team if it was a full-time IndyCar. That’s fine. I can do both.”

Speaking of doing both in parallel, Paretta says, “I think these will complement each other for my bandwidth and what drives me. I get the opportunity to do both, which is really exciting.

“But I think that, because I’m not a racing driver, I’m a business person. A lot of race teams are ex-racing drivers, and they have a different perspective because their brains have been trained to operate a certain way. If you come from the business side, it’s been my experience that we tend to be more collaborative and team building, and we’re happy to be leading a team, because we try to get the best out of each of those teams.”

So while Paretta’s Formula E and team endeavors will be separate, she still sees her job as Formula E as being part of a team – it just won’t be putting a car on track.

“I’m now just joining another team,” she says. “So I get to be on two teams now I’m on this Formula E team. I think that that’s not very different. It’s just an evolution of where I’ve been and where I’m going, and I’m really excited to be part of this team.

“Everybody that I’ve been talking to and have interacted with – and I certainly checked my sources of people that have worked with Formula E for several years – has nothing but the best to say about this group of people. And I think that ultimately, that’s always the thread.

“It’s one thing to have a job that sounds great on paper or looks great on television, but it comes down to the people, and any time I can work with people who are dedicated, driven, and properly interested in doing good work, there’s nothing better than that. S what an exciting time to join, and I can’t wait to get started.”

Paretta joins Formula E at the peak of its powers. Fresh from the reveal of its GEN3 Evo car, and two years ahead of the introduction of the GEN4 machine, it maintains a healthy manufacturer presence as the road car world is ushered into a new era of electrification. It’s a place where manufacturers can promote and develop that technology they’re going to be selling, and it’s a place they can do it at a fraction of the cost of the likes of Formula 1 or NASCAR.

“A car company is racing for two reasons: one is, ideally there’s a technical tie to what they’re doing, maybe use it as that living lab or that proving ground, a test bed,” she said. “But then also it’s the marketing side as well. That brand awareness and brand building and loyalty, and both of those are those are equally important.”

Asked if that makes Formula E the best-value championship for OEMs today, Paretta responds, “Absolutely. I think that’s a great way to put it.

“It’s doing two things: it’s new technology, it’s still in its infancy, but the fact that it’s been nimble and been able to go to different parts around the world as well, and that reach has been going to these new venues.”

Paretta’s experience and industry standing should make her the perfect go-between for the series and its participants, while also helping attract new players to the table. But another thing Paretta will be able to help with is Formula E’s drive for equality. As a co-founder of Women in Motorsports North America and a delegate to the FIA Women in Motorsport Commission, Paretta’s been at the forefront of the push for equal gender representation across motorsport, and it’s something she hopes she will be able to influence further from within.

“The origin story of my team was to get more women involved in racing and really just be a thought starter for young women. I say, obviously, using racing as the example, but realistically it’s for women considering skill based training, and therefore skills-based c areers,” she says. “And although motorsport is the example, and by all means, we’d love for you to join us in motorsport, we know that all these skills are transferable, and then you can go to other things. My background has been in automotive, so that’s the very obvious and direct connection, but as we know, many of these skills can go into other industries.”

When asked if it will be a defined part of her new role, Paretta says, “It’s pretty much understood and it has been part of the conversation. Obviously that’s the space that I’ve been acting in for the past several years.

“What has been driving me is getting women into the sport in a very visible way, but also … I’ve been really the drum on women in all roles, not just the driver, because up until a handful of years ago, all of the efforts made were really just to focus on getting more women drivers, which is great, but of course, but there’s all these other roles too, and there are plenty of places for women there.

“And I say this even again, addressing just that labor shortage. We just need the best and brightest. I don’t care who you are or where you’re from, if you’re willing to work and are willing to learn, we’ve got a space for you and are happy to welcome you in.”

Increasing that visibility will be key to inspiring the next generation. Paretta shines the spotlight on sometime Formula E driver Simona de Silvestro who, while she hasn’t been racing in the series since 2016, has been a key component to Porsche’s success as a manufacturer.

“Simona has been a factory driver for Porsche, and she’s been working with the Formula E team for the past handful of years doing setup and simulator work,” she says. “She’s not doing it this season, but in the past few seasons, if you see them when they’re finishing one-two, she’s part of the team, if not the driver in the simulator that’s setting up the car.

“But you don’t know that story because it’s behind the scenes – which is fine, those of us inside, know, but does that affect a 12 year old young woman watching from home, if she were to know that absolutely, it might make her say, ‘Hey, can we go karting this weekend?’ And the more that say (that), that that’s how you move the needle.”