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Moments that made me: Emma Gilmour

Self-belief, brave decisions, and a trusted inner circle have been key Emma Gilmour's success

In an alternate universe somewhere, there's every chance that Emma Gilmour could be a professional equestrian, but had that been the case, she'd have ignored her heart and her gut.

Emma's ability to listen to her heart and her gut has played a huge role in her career to date. It convinced her to change her career path, it fuelled her self-belief when recovering from an accident and building a better, more believing team around her and it gave her the confidence to take over an entire business by herself.

We sat down with Emma to get each of those stories in her own words, asking her for the key moments in her career to date. Here's what she had to say…

Changing careers


One of the most pivotal moments in my life and career to date would be when I moved on from competitive horse riding and my dream of being an Olympic equestrian.

I was probably in my late teens or early twenties at that moment. Until then, my eventing ambitions had taken up half my life and all my focus - it had been everything I'd ever worked towards. It was hugely scary to change tack, not knowing what the future held. I just knew that it wasn't going to be that. What came out of it was the confidence that, by following your heart and doing what you know is right, things will work out.

If I'd never had the guts to wrap up the riding, I would never be where I am now, with this amazing career in motorsport. Too often, we can think we've got to follow expectations, or we feel pressure to keep doing something when maybe our heart's not in it anymore, but you've just got to step back and look at what you're passionate about. That was a pivotal moment for me.

Building the right team around me


I had a fairly big rally accident early on in my career, during which I was knocked out. To fully recover took quite some time, especially getting my speed back with driving.

Even once I knew I was fully well in the car and driving well, I still had people around me who didn't necessarily believe in me. If I was saying that there seemed to be something wrong with the car or the car wasn't doing what I wanted it to, they wouldn’t believe me, and they would tell me that it was just in my head and that I'd lost it since the crash. That was really, really tough because there's part of you that cannot help but doubt yourself and think: 'Gosh, maybe they’re right’.

I was lucky that my partner at the time still believed in my ability. We put a team together that also fully believed in and supported me. From that moment on, we went on to finish every rally we entered and finished third and then runner-up in the New Zealand Rally Championship for many years. I guess it's that really important life lesson - you have to have the right team around you in whatever you do, be it in motorsport, business, or life in

Taking over the business by myself


More recently, when I broke up with my fiancé, I had the task of buying from him the business we were running together and also the rally team. I had a huge amount of debt and wasn’t sure if I could run a business on my own. Having been through that doubt and now being able to reflect on it has been valuable. By being brave and backing yourself, you get to see just how capable you can be.

And again, it comes down to having the right people around you, the right support.

For me, that’s what is most important. That's why I feel so fortunate to be with McLaren, where you have the absolute best people around you - knowing that you’re there because they know you're up to the task, to do a good job. It's very reassuring.

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