Nicki Shields spends a lot of her time around cars.
The presenter has brought the latest from the pit-lane to ITV, Sky Sports F1 and BT Sport, well and truly proving she can hold her own in the male-dominated world of motor sports.
When she’s not interviewing drivers at the FIA Formula E Championship (think electric F1, if you haven’t seen it yet), she’s presenting CNN’s tech and motor series ‘Supercharged’ or hosting car events around the country.
“There is a massive lack of women in the industry and a severe lack of openings and opportunities, so I’d like to reverse this trend if I can,” she told HuffPost UK as part of our Fierce series.
The 31-year-old is not kidding. According to the Motor Sports Association, just 5% of motor sports competitors are women. What’s more, women make up only 15% of licensed officials and 15% of registered marshals.
We spoke to the presenter about life in the fast lane and why women need to stop “competing against each other” in order to succeed in male-led fields.
What motivates you to get out of bed in the morning?
“I love my job and working makes me happy. Seeing my career progress is really motivating as it builds momentum. The other day I was in Oxford Street for a meeting after an intense week of work and a young girl came up to me and said that she’s a classic car racer and I inspired her – that was the most motivational thing ever.
“I also love to be around people. My friends, family and colleagues keep me going. Spending time with them and my husband is what I need and it fulfils me.”
Who inspires you and why?
“Claire Williams OBE – the team principal of the Williams Formula One racing team. She is an incredibly impressive successful woman in her own right, but also in a man’s world.
“She is smart, intelligent, but also a lovely, friendly, approachable person. Claire also remains absolutely in control of every situation, even under the extreme high pressure of Formula One.”
What was the last thing you did that made you proud?
“Starting my YouTube channel. I do find it easy to be confident on screen for my ‘day-job’, but YouTube is so raw, exposed and it’s my own creative content for all to see.
“I’m so proud that it’s proved a success and I have reached around 300,000 views in three months. I couldn’t be happier and thanks to everyone who’s supported it so far.”
How do you think society views ambitious and successful women?
“I do think it’s unfortunate that the media pit women against women when it should be about supporting each other. At the Monaco Grand Prix, I worked alongside four other great female presenters. Others were confused why we were all so friendly, implying that we are ‘competitors’ - I explained that we support and respect each other, it doesn’t need to be about competition.
“At the beginning of my career of course it was harder making my way, I had to prove myself – whether that was because it was a ‘men’s’ sector or not, I’m unsure, but it did make me work harder and made me more determined.”
Does success have a downside? If so, what is it?
“I’d say the lack of time it can give you with friends and family. That is why it is really important to me to allocate quality time to my husband, family, friends and godson. I try particularly hard in this aspect of my life and make it a priority when I’m not working or travelling.”
How do you practise self-care and why is it important?
“I’m not very good at self-care if I’m really honest, I could do better. I like keeping fit but work can get in the way. As I travel so much I take my running gear everywhere I go – it’s a great way to keep fit and see the city I’m in. My CNN producer and I now have ‘running meetings’ too.
“The one thing I do is ensure I prioritise eight hours of sleep. Recently I signed up to a 10K run, I didn’t have time to train but managed it in under an hour which for me was a great achievement.”
What’s your biggest regret? And what did you learn from it?
“I don’t really have any huge regrets – life is a journey, good and bad. I did miss one of my best friend’s weddings for a work commitment, but now I’m a bit older and wiser (I hope) I release although work is important, you should always put your loved ones first.”
If you had one piece of advice for other women, what would it be?
“Never judge another woman, you never know what she is going through. If you meet a woman who needs a boost of confidence, be that person to give them that boost – it’s about supporting each other, instead of competing against each other.”
What’s the one thing you would change or do in 2017 to push women forward?
“I am going to encourage a group of my girlfriends to get their racing licence. I want to show them how fun motor sports can be with the aim of inspiring more women and young girls to work in the industry.
“There is a massive lack of women in the industry and a severe lack of openings and opportunities, so I’d like to reverse this trend if I can.”
Fierce is a regular feature on HuffPost UK, asking trailblazing women what drives them. We’ll be speaking to a range of women including those who’ve found success in male-dominated industries, created a service to help other women and those using their position to empower others.