Mrs. Françoise Emery is the Deputy CEO of the FIM. She started in the Finance Department of the FIM 18 years ago and is now leading the 40 employees of the FIM in the headquarter as well as 300 officials and volunteers worldwide to support the 113 national federations which are members of the FIM. We had the opportunity to chat with Mrs. Emery to hear about her career in the motorcycling sport governance body, and learn about how they pushed through this difficult year to make the championships happen.
Young Françoise came from a family of sports lovers. With a skiing athlete as a mother, Françoise developed a passion for sports in general. When coming back from Asia looking for a new challenge in life, Françoise found the perfect match within the FIM. “We are a family interested in sports in general, but none of us rode motorcycles actually. My mother was in competitive skiing. I love skiing. I also played tennis for many many years. My professional background was in audit and finance, and I lived in Asia for a couple of years with my husband. When I came back to Europe, I was looking for a new challenge. I have many friends working for the Olympic Committee and other international sports federations. I thought it would be a very interesting path.”
“It was a bit by chance that I joined the FIM. But when I met the Directors from the FIM, everything was ringing a bell, it all lined up. I appreciated very much the former CEO, the Directors, and the staff I met during the interviews as well as the working environment and atmosphere here at the FIM. It was exactly what I wanted, and everything I was looking for was right here.“
I’ve been here for almost 18 years. Every day it was a real pleasure to work at the FIM.
Françoise may not have looked hard to find the perfect match in the FIM, she definitely fell in love with the motorcycling world and devoted all her passion to building the FIM what it is today, together with a group of like-minded people who are also passionate about motorcycling sport. “I was already passionate about sport, and when you started going to races or watching them on TV, little by little you get passionate about all the disciplines, even though I may have not heard of all of them before. “
“My colleagues here within the administration and all the officials in the field are all very passionate about what they are doing. I very much appreciate the 300 of us working together, the staff, the officials, and the volunteers.“
As the administration body, the CEO and Deputy CEO leads a small structure of staff and reports to the Board of Directors of the FIM, which consists of representatives from the national federations and continental unions. All the crucial moments of the motorcycling world happens right here, and amazing opportunities arises from those key moments. Within the great atmosphere of the FIM, among the passionate people, a successful career is also about seizing those opportunities when they presented themselves and taking new challenges head-on.
“It’s a small structure within the FIM, so you can have many opportunities if you wish to take the benefit of them. At the Finance Department of the FIM, I was responsible for some projects dealing with national federations on subsidies. It gave me knowledge of how things work in the field. In 2008, the FIM, after more than 100 years of existence, decided to launch a strategic plan. I took the opportunity to answer the survey they sent out to all the stakeholders, and I was really interested in this topic. My former CEO said ‘OK, come on-board,’ so I joined the strategic plan committee. Thanks to this, I met a lot of different stakeholders, such as our promoters, riders, volunteers, commission members, and the media. Through this exercise, you learn a lot about motorcycling sports, and the advocacy the FIM wishes to be. You grow a lot by doing these kinds of things. Then a few years ago we made a huge revision of our governance and I also had the opportunity to work on it. It’s huge work – you will have political issues, you can benchmark against good governance practice, and you meet other international federations. The governance review is really the foundation which brings the FIM to where it is today.“
I think the FIM offers everyone opportunities, and then it’s up to you to take these opportunities and continue your path. I’m curious, I like to learn every day, so when the opportunities arise, I want to take the new challenge.
Having participated in many milestone events at the FIM and arriving at the top management position she is in, Françoise is rather humble about her achievement. “At the FIM I had the opportunity to work for different departments, and it’s the day-to-day pleasure to work at the FIM. It’s also a pleasure to be able to have an overall and global look at what the FIM is doing. I don’t think those key moments are for me, it’s more for the FIM. I’m just one single person in the whole system.“
The whole system Françoise is a part of is what pushed the motorcycling world through the crisis of COVID-19. The whole world is of course still under the threat of COVID-19. But amidst the challenges brought about by COVID-19, the FIM, together with partners, with the joint effort from everyone in the field to the Board of Directors, was able to bring back racing for most of the championships, including the crown-jewel of motorcycle road racing – MotoGP. “We have to respect all the restrictions in each country, and it was very difficult to organize events. We had to reorganize everything. Some national federations had to organize more events than originally planned before the pandemic. Thanks to the tremendous effort of our national federations and officials, who despite the pandemic, went to the races and applied the rules. Thanks to the riders, the teams, and our promoters who made it happen.“
We were able to resume sporting events because of the day-to-day hard work of everyone. You have to adjust every day to the restrictions and rules.
With the pandemic still raging on, the keyword for the 2021 season is currently ‘flexibility’. “We have a plan B for the 2021 season in case the scheduled events on the calendar cannot go ahead as planned. Everyone today wants to be flexible. This is what we did in 2020, and this is what we plan to do in 2021.”
For people who are interested in joining the FIM or any governance body in motorsport, Françoise says passion and experience in the field would be the key. “If you are passionate about sports or specifically motorcycling sport, you can start at the regional level where you live and join a club which organizes regional races. You can work as a volunteer, or an official, assisting everyone to prepare the tracks. It’s the same at the national level, you can work as a volunteer at the national federation of your country. We have staff coming from the national federations who are now employees of the FIM. We actually need the knowledge and skills from the field, they know exactly what they are talking about.”
Women with passion and expertise are recognized as experts, and they have their place within the FIM.
In the end, of course, we circled back to the theme of promoting women in motorsport. For Françoise, it goes back to the same principle – passion, and skills. “If you ask someone whether motorcycling is a more male or female sport, people would probably say it’s a male sport. But Women in Motorcycling Commission of the FIM is crucial to promoting women in the sport, and they have been doing a great job. In addition, going beyond the competition, we have plenty of women who ride bikes on a daily basis in the street. The motorcycling culture needs to start at the local clubs, from leisure to competition. If you are a woman and you are interested in motorcycles, go ahead and get your registration at a motorcycling club in your region. Or, if you are not into riding, be an official and continue to do so. Of course, it’s a male-dominated sport at the moment, but it doesn’t mean the federations should be male-oriented. Within the administration, we have 50% women and 50% men, and that applies to the executive function as well. We have women in the commissions. We have women doing training in enduro and trial. We have women as referees in the speedway discipline. If you have the passion and the skills, if you come from the field and know what you are talking about, then you will find your way within the federations and succeed.“
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