A Formula (For) One’s Success

Ralph, a Lebanese-Canadian Formula 1 engineer, has traveled around the world pursuing his passion. Having previously worked for Rolls-Royce and NASA, Ralph has been working as a Vehicle Performance Engineer for Renault F1 Team for the past seven years. He holds a BEng in Mechanical Engineering and an MSc in Motorsport Engineering & Management.

There’s always a voice inside pushing you further in life to destroy barriers and accomplish your dreams. Ralph Koyess listened to his intuition that led him to his dream job at Formula One and fueled his path through hardships to reach there.

For as far back as I can remember, I had been dreaming about working in Formula One. The cutting-edge technology, the competition and the exclusivity made this sport, often referred to as the pinnacle of the automotive world, an irresistible objective. With a clearly defined destination in mind, I started to plan my journey. 

Starting in Canada and embarking on my engineering studies was the first step. From early on, I was very proactive, presiding over a student club and organizing events for my peers. All along, I had my sights fixed on the next step, which was to move to the UK and complete a master’s degree in motorsports at Cranfield University. The course is the most sought-after degree in the Formula One industry, and the university is conveniently located in Motorsport Valley®, the epicentre of the Formula One industry. I printed the application, completed it, and left it on my desk for the next three years while I completed my studies. It served as a reminder to remain focused on the long-term objective, at times when motivation was low and I felt my dreams too distant to reach. With summer placements at Rolls-Royce and NASA under my belt, I was confident enough of my profile to send in the application, and was offered a place on the course. I packed my things and headed to the UK.

Moving to the UK and getting the dream job

Moving to the UK to complete a postgraduate degree in motorsports was a double-edged sword. Not only was it a great opportunity that could allow me to land my dream job, but it was also a substantial risk for two main reasons: first, the economic crisis was in full swing and most Formula One teams were downsizing, which meant that there would be very few jobs in this industry upon graduation; second, as a non-EU citizen, I would need a visa to work in the UK. This presented a major obstacle since many employers are not licensed or are not willing to sponsor employees. Keeping my eyes on the ultimate prize, I didn’t let these disadvantages discourage me, and instead used them to fuel my motivation even further. I knew I had to work harder than anyone else and stand out from my peers, so that if there was only one of us that would acquire a job in Formula One upon graduation, it had to be me. Studying for my master’s degree was the toughest, but also the most enjoyable, year of my life. I won several awards, presided over the university’s motorsport club, published articles, acted as class representative, and ended up being one of only two students to get a job in Formula One upon graduation.

Giving back

My past seven years at Renault Sport Formula One Team have been incredibly rewarding. I have worked in several departments, which have given me the opportunity to sample all aspects of the industry. I have traveled to events, supported the race team in real-time from the factory, acted as employee representative, and represented the team as a judge for an international engineering competition. I have also kept engaged in extracurricular activities, contributing and giving back to all the communities that supported me throughout my journey. I presided over the team’s basketball club, organized yearly visits to Royal Air Force bases for the employees, gave talks and presentations to the new cohort of students at Cranfield or other universities, did TV interviews, and supported countless individuals who aspire to follow a similar path.

A message to Lebanese youth

My message for the Lebanese youth is this: dare to dream and follow your dreams. To do this, it is paramount to be able to break down all imaginary barriers that society imposes on you: geographical, disciplinary, or others’ expectations. Overcome the disciplinary limitations. You can be happy and successful in any field, if you are among the best at what you do. Use the innate sense of competition that all Lebanese people have, and stand out from the rest. I took a big risk completing a postgraduate degree in such a niche industry, but I knew that if I worked harder than everyone else, I would make a success of it.

Overcome the geographical limitations. You must be willing to pursue your objective wherever it takes you. Every industry has a hub – identify your industry’s hub, and drive towards it. For Formula One, it’s Motorsport Valley® in the UK, so I moved there to study. Overcome the expectations of others. Many will try to convince you to pursue a traditional career path instead of following your dream because it is either too far-fetched or too risky, or because it doesn’t offer many opportunities. Only you can determine what you are passionate about and what will make you happy in life. If I had listened to anyone else but my own intuition, I would not be in a position to write this article.


For more info: www.ralphkoyess.com