The teenage karting champion setting her sights on Formula 1, Daniella Sutton, racing driver

The teenage karting champion setting her sights on Formula 1, Daniella Sutton, racing driver

Karting champion Daniella Sutton may only be 15, but she’s setting her sights on something huge.

Since her first experience in a kart at TeamSport Trafford Park at the age of 6, Sutton has enjoyed an enviable rise in racing. 2023 saw her winning numerous trophies, with one of the highlights being her fourth-place finish in the prestigious Daniel Ricciardo series. What started as a hobby has quickly turned into a potential career path, with an exciting chapter opening up as she switches from karts to cars for the first time, competing in the Fiesta Junior Championships.

For International Women’s Day, Daniella spoke to us about how her passion for motorsport has developed over the years and how her sights are firmly set on becoming the UK’s first female Formula 1 driver.

What was your first karting experience?

My dad took me for my sixth birthday to TeamSport Trafford, which was originally Daytona. At first, I actually didn’t want to put the suit on. I cried because I didn’t like the feel of the suit and didn’t want to put the suit on, but as soon as I got that helmet on and got in the car, I loved it!

Daniella Sutton on the podium
How did karting change from a hobby to a potential career path?

It was more of a hobby and not a very regular thing up until I was about ten and then we started going more regularly to indoor kart tracks. When I was eleven we were like, ‘Well, why do we take it further?’ Someone suggested the Daniel Ricciardo series and to race in that I had to get my Motorsport UK license for karting. Once I acquired my Motorsport UK license for karting, we took it very serious from then on, realizing that I wanted it as my career path.

I competed at Shenington for my first ever race and it was just amazing. Even though I was towards the back of the grid, it was like, wow, I’m racing with such amazing drivers and inspirational drivers as well, such as Alisha Palmowski. Alisha is one of my good friends now, she raced in the Ginetta Juniors last year and is looking to take her career further within motorsport.

How easy is balancing racing with school?

Alongside racing, my academia is very important because obviously the main goal is to become a racing driver, but you always have to have something to fall back on. I try and catch up with school as much as possible and sometimes it is tough, but my teachers help me a lot and the school support me with my racing. I think the hardest thing is when I’ve been sick

What is your planned route to reach F1?

We know that there are lot of women-driven ambitions these days to get women into the sport, such as the F1 Academy. We’re competing in the Fiesta Junior Championship this year, so we’d be looking then further along the line at trying to get scouted for the F1 Academy if possible, because if a rally driver has done it, it doesn’t mean a tin tops driver can’t as well.

How difficult is it to battle through illness when racing?

I have Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis as well. So, I’ve had a lot of time out of school because of that. But then I manage to catch up in school, which is the main thing. Then also fitness comes into play as well, to be a high-performing athlete, you need to work on your fitness because of the G-forces endured during the racing. If you are physically fit, you’ll be mentally fit as well to be able to tackle any tasks at hand on track. I often find that the adrenaline helps, so the adrenaline of the racing, takes the pain away if I do have any pain. My arthritis is manageable at the moment with Immunosuppressant medication called Adalimumab and so that helps my body to stop fighting itself essentially. I don’t really get that much joint pain, but if I do, then we manage it with Naproxen, which is an anti-inflammatory.

Where do you see yourself in the next five years?

I want to see myself racing at the highest echelons of Motorsport that I physically can but to do that, I’ll need backing from sponsors such as yourself and other people who are willing to support me on this journey.”

We look forward to continue to follow Daniella’s incredible journey in the season ahead and all of Morson will be cheering her on. 

Visit our PathFinders hub for more inspirational stories, ranging from world champion Boxer, Natasha Jonas to Countdown host and influential STEM ambassador, Rachel Riley.

The tech-obsessed gamer who swapped his CTO career to start his own business, Darren Westall, co-founder & CEO of Paiger

The tech-obsessed gamer who swapped his CTO career to start his own business, Darren Westall, co-founder & CEO of Paiger

Darren Westall is the co-founder and CEO of Paiger, an all-in-one tool for 360 recruiters, focusing on personal branding, company branding, business development and candidate attraction.

By the age of 28, Darren had reached his ultimate career goal, becoming Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of global talent acquisition software company Broadbean. Though he had achieved this success, a feeling of emptiness and restlessness began to creep in for Darren, and an urge to pack it all in and launch his own tech start-up.

For PathFinders, we speak to him about his career path, his passion for technology, his views on AI in recruitment, as well as the catalyst that finally drove him to make that jump from a stable career to a start-up in a shed.

Talk to us about your education and early life.

Darren’s journey into the world of technology began with his love for gaming. He was an avid gamer and even hosted his own game servers. This passion for technology led him to explore the possibilities of modding games. However, traditional schooling and IT projects on Excel didn’t quite pique his interest. Darren emphasizes his “all or nothing” approach to learning, focusing intensely on subjects he found fascinating.

“I’m very much a person where if I find something interesting, I will excel at it.”

Darren Westall

Like many, Darren found school to be a challenging time where he wasn’t entirely sure about his future. Career assessments suggested paths that didn’t align with his aspirations. A switch to a new school during secondary education complicated matters, but Darren knew he didn’t want to become a forklift truck driver.

After failing at IT college, Darren found his footing as a junior software developer at Broadbean. This role allowed him to dive deep into technology, and he voraciously consumed books about programming. He realized that his true passion lay in technology and building things that people use. He set a lofty career goal: to become the CTO of the company. It took him ten years of relentless effort, but he achieved it.

However, after reaching his career goal, Darren felt an emptiness. He realized that having a goal was essential in life. It was at this point that a video on LinkedIn served as a catalyst. It challenged him to consider leaving his job. The realization hit that he needed a new goal. Starting his own business became the logical next step, as it was a path to gain the commercial experience he lacked for a CEO role.

“I’m in control and I’m not looking for anyone else’s effing permission other than my own.”

Darren Westall
The desk in Darren’s shed where it all started for Paiger

Darren shares his thoughts on AI in the recruitment industry. While AI is a hot topic, he firmly believes that it won’t replace good recruiters. Recruitment, he emphasizes, is a people-to-people business. AI can drive efficiencies, making recruiters more productive, but it shouldn’t replace the essential human element.

Darren’s journey was not without challenges. He cites making tough decisions during the COVID-19 pandemic as one of the hardest moments in his life. It involved letting go of people who had added value to the business due to external circumstances beyond his control. Reflecting on his path, Darren has valuable advice for his teenage self. He encourages young individuals to chill out, enjoy life, and not worry too much about the distant future. Instead, they should focus on finding their passion and following it.

“The key is finding something you’re passionate about and then following your passion.”

Darren Westall

Darren’s journey from a gamer with a passion for technology to a successful entrepreneur showcases the importance of having goals in life. His story reminds us that it’s crucial to adapt and change direction when the time is right. He encourages others to find their passion, work towards it, and not worry about what the future holds. In his case, embracing change led to the creation of Paiger and a new chapter in his career.

Visit our PathFinders hub for more inspirational stories.

From a love of maths to TV’s Countdown and inspiring a generation of girls in STEM, Rachel Riley

From a love of maths to TV’s Countdown and inspiring a generation of girls in STEM, Rachel Riley

Filling Carol Vorderman’s shoes on TV’s long-running Countdown would always be a big challenge, but for one Oxford graduate maths enthusiast, it proved to be a surprisingly natural, if unplanned, fit.

Rachel Riley had always been good with numbers from a young age, and after gaining a Master’s degree in maths from the prestigious Oxford University, in 2009 she took her first steps onto the sound stage at Channel 4 to become a household name.

In September 2023, Morson hosted its inaugural STEM Changemakers Summit at the Morson Maker Space at the University of Salford. A keynote speaker at the event, Rachel sat down with PathFinders to discuss the story of her life, her career, her aspirations for the future, how she’s using her platform on Channel 4’s long-running daytime game show to inspire and encourage girls into STEM, and much more.

Talk to us about your education and early life.

“I was good at school. I was good at maths from an early age, and I think the positive reinforcement encouraged me to do more maths and the more maths I did the better I got at it and the faster I succeeded. I went from school to doing maths, further maths and physics at A-level, then I got into Oxford University, having never met anyone who went to Oxford before. I studied maths and then studied for a Master’s for four years before getting my very strange job in television. 

In the summer of 2008, I just finished doing the Master’s and I was looking into what I was going to do with my life. After that, I was applying for grad jobs all over the place, I was looking into doing a Master’s in concrete, and one of the random things I saw was an advert for Countdown to do the numbers game. I’d watched Countdown since I was a little kid, I had never been near a television studio but instead of the pages and reams of detail ‘when have you worked in a team and all sorts for normal jobs’ [usual job application process] Countdown wanted 50 words and a photo. I applied expecting never to hear back from them, they had 3,000 applications and interviewed 100 of us and took 6 of us up to the Leeds studio for a screen test. I got the job and I’ve been doing it for 15 years now.  

Rachel Riley on Countdown
Rachel Riley during her first appearance on Countdown
Did you ever experience any discrimination as a woman in the world of STEM?

I was fortunate growing up that I never witnessed or came across the idea that girls and boys were different, one was better or worse than the other in maths and I think that really benefitted me not to have that idea implanted. I know now when trying to encourage girls and doing work with them in STEM that actually this idea gets implanted from the age of 6. And this has negative effects. I’m lucky that I never encountered that, I was at an all-girls school, I had a feminist, brilliant headmistress, and it wasn’t till I got to university and some boys had the idea they were better than girls. And it really confused me where they got this from as it’s something I’d never experienced in my life.

At Oxford, there were six of us studying maths. I was the only girl but the boys on the course didn’t treat me any differently, there was always one boy who would always make the tea when we did work together. And I think it’s more internal pressure that I put on myself I didn’t think I was good enough. I thought when I got the Oxford admission letter that it was wrong, and I remember crying before going back for my second term, with my first exams with some of the stuff I had done, because it was just so alien and so difficult. And then I actually got a prize on it and I think that’s probably more of a female trait, we don’t necessarily believe in ourselves, whereas a lot of the boys would give all the bravado say how brilliant they were and then not do as well. So that’s one thing I learned pretty quickly. But I’m really fortunate that with the group of people around me, there didn’t feel like any discrimination. And even though the girls were the minority, we obviously held our own, because we got there on our abilities.

Unfortunately, research shows that for a lot of young people, the girls, they can be put off from doing maths and science because they are told from a young age it’s not for them. The amount of times I’ve been told I’m not good at maths ‘I’ve got a creative brain’ ‘I don’t have a maths brain’. I think it’s time we just rubbish this notion that there’s something such as a maths brain, that doesn’t exist, anyone who finds the right way to approach a problem can do maths, they can get better if they want to and I think the stereotypes that science is for men and women prefer helping people, I think they need to be ditched, they need to be seen for what they are, and I think with a lot of reframing the way we change language, they way we pitch things. I think we can encourage more women and more girls into subjects they would really enjoy if they knew they could be suited for it and that there are fulfilling and profitable jobs.

Morson Changemakers STEM Summit 2023 – SEE Building, Maker Space, University of Salford
What is it about STEM, particularly maths, that excites you?

I’m of the view that there are two types of mathematicians, there are people who like pure maths and people who like applied maths. The pure mathematicians love the beauty of an equation they love the patterns in numbers they admire and adore and wonder at patterns and all kinds of things. I’m an applied mathematician, I love getting into the meat of a puzzle and getting the answer, that’s the satisfaction I draw from maths and from science. There’s nothing better, for me, than getting a puzzle, finding it really difficult and then solving it and getting the answer out. That’s my satisfaction in maths and it’s different from the wonders and beauty of things.   

Talk to us about your career on Countdown.

Quite often on Countdown I can tell it’s going to be a different one before I’ve started. But people ask me, how do you see the numbers? I do have a way of seeing it on Countdown that it’s like a jigsaw puzzle, and instead of working with base 10, I work with base 25 because with we have 25-100 as the big tiles. And I know what you must times the big numbers by to get close. And then the bits that you add on or take away to get the target are like the nubs or the holes in the jigsaw puzzle. And I just know what they are. 

When I was applying for my job I got the Countdown puzzle books, I had a graduate job in the meantime I was only there about a month, but I bought these puzzle books so when I was commuting, I’d go up and down and you’d spot the patterns and spot how to solve certain things. I kind of did immersion therapy by playing the Countdown theme over and over while I was doing the puzzles because otherwise your brain kind of gets nerfed and even when the comedians come on and do 8 Out of 10 Cats now they get terrified when the clock comes on. I used to practice all of the time but now it’s just like riding a bike, and even having babies and being sleep deprived and being ill I can still do the numbers game, it’s just brain training it’s just what I can sort of do. 

Rachel Riley with her family
What would you like to see your two small children grow up to be?

I want two bring up my two little girls so that they can do absolutely anything they want to do, I don’t want them to have a notion that things are for girls or for boys. If they enjoy it they can go and do it. When I was a girl I played football, my three-year-old likes dancing so she’s following her father’s footsteps. But whatever she’s open to I hope she has the opportunity to try, she doesn’t have any notion it’s not for girls, it’s just for boys anything along those lines. That is banned in my house. It would be nice if she followed in my footsteps, she likes numbers so far which is a good thing, but careers are a long way off because they’re only one and three.”

Find out more about the Morson Changemakers STEM Summit here, and visit our PathFinders hub for more inspirational stories.

Miss England: the aerospace engineer using her platform to inspire the future of STEM, Jessica Gagen

Miss England: the aerospace engineer using her platform to inspire the future of STEM, Jessica Gagen

Jessica Gagen made history in 2022 when she became the first redhead woman in history to be crowned Miss England in the annual beauty contest.

Aside from her exploits in the fashion and modelling world, Jess has the distinction of having a passion for STEM, receiving a BEng in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Liverpool in 2023. Encouraged into STEM from an early age by her toolmaker father, Jess was initially reluctant to pursue this route due to the perception of it being a male-dominated world, something that she’s keen to use her newfound platform to dispel.

In September 2023, Morson hosted its inaugural STEM Changemakers Summit at the Morson Maker Space at the University of Salford. A keynote speaker at the event, Jess sat down with PathFinders to discuss the story of her life, her career, her aspirations for the future, how she’s using her platform during the Miss World contest in December to inspire and encourage girls into STEM, and much more.

“I was very much into my STEM subjects at school and I picked STEM A-levels as well, but I was very conflicted as to what I wanted to do. I wanted to be a little bit of everything and potentially I could say I still fit within that category now. But my interest in engineering only really came to surface when I left school. 

So when I was 19 or 20 I thought about different pathways and opportunities and my background before that had been in fashion modelling.  

So I identified what I liked about that industry, being the variety and what subjects would encompass that and engineering was what I picked. 

I was told from a young age that I would be good in engineering by my dad. My dad was a tool maker by trade so he always used to say ‘Jess you would be a good engineer’. It was years down the line until I was interested, I always had an interest in aerospace because he used to take me to airshows so every year I’d go to Southport airshow. 

It later down the line when I decided I needed to do a subject which is going to give me a lot of different options. Which was going to be interesting, challenging, have a lot of variety and tick the same box as modelling, so, essentially working with different people every day on different projects and, and so aerospace engineering was subject to go for. 

I was scouted for the Miss Lancashire competition. I was very apprehensive to begin with because I didn’t really know what the contest stood for and there was a lot of stereotypes surrounding it, which I hadn’t been educated about. 

And when I got to learn that the contest was all about empowering women and standing up for a cause that, you’re genuinely passionate about.

I realised I could use that platform for change and I could potentially take that regionally or nationally. Now luckily enough because I’ve now won the national contest, I can take this internationally. I’ve got a platform where I can speak about engineering to young girls and diminish stereotypes surrounding the idea that femininity and engineering are mutually exclusive.

Jess Gagen on inspiring girls into STEM.

So that’s why I went back to then win the Miss England competition. That’s what it was about because I came second in my first year and I thought, I need to do this. 

I was picked on when I was at school for having red hair. So then to win a national contest, which historically was based on beauty – not so much anymore but everybody connects those two ideas – it really was a fantastic moment because I really felt it resonated within the redhead community. 

I had so many messages of support and so many messages from parents, and children who told me that they had been through the same things, which I’d gone through. So to be able to stand up and, represent us on a world stage. I mean, at the moment, unless they crown any new girls, I’m the only redhead that’s going to be in the Miss World contest this year so I am so immensely proud to get to represent England.

Morson Changemakers STEM Summit 2023 – SEE Building, Maker Space, University of Salford

I think it’s really important to encourage young people into STEM careers because STEM is the future. Engineering is the backbone, I believe, of the country, and typically it takes a village. A lot of people, assume for me an aerospace engineer, oh, she builds aircraft. Although that might be the case in some instances, typically it’s an umbrella over a lot of different fields. So whether that’s chemistry, biology, obviously different types of science being physics, then subsections of those subjects as well. I mean we’re talking thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, material science. There are so many avenues to go down in engineering and I think it’s really important, even not focusing on a job profile as such but focusing on the skills that our young people can gain through studying STEM because they can lead them into many different avenues in different industries as a whole as well. 

So my plan at the moment, is I’m going to put absolutely everything into my STEM campaign leading up to the Miss World final, which is going to be in December this year. I’ll be competing to potentially be the first aerospace engineer to win Miss World, so that would be really cool. 

If was able to gain that platform because I think that would be fantastic for the world of STEM because it really would diminish stereotypes surrounding both STEM as an industry and also the beauty pageant industry. So I’m really hoping I can combine them both. But then aside from that, obviously there’s every chance that I won’t win that contest. And my passion is still within STEM. 

I still plan to carry on working with schools, going into schools, advertising opportunities in STEM and different careers. And then because of my career, I have a very potentially ambitious dream. I’d love to work in TV and educate young kids about engineering through TV.  

Aside from that, I’m interested in working in new technology, so we’ll see where that leads.”

Find out more about the Morson Changemakers STEM Summit here, and visit our PathFinders hub for more inspirational stories.

How a family tragedy inspired a mental health movement, Luke Ambler, ANDYSMANCLUB founder

How a family tragedy inspired a mental health movement, Luke Ambler, ANDYSMANCLUB founder

Luke Ambler is the founder of the men’s suicide prevention charity ANDYSMANCLUB. They offer free-to-attend, peer-to-peer support groups across the United Kingdom and online, with the aim of ending the stigma surrounding men’s mental health.

For PathFinders, we spoke to Luke about the family tragedy that spurred him into action to set up Andy’s Man Club. From an idea borne out of grief, the club now has over 120 free support groups across the country, serving almost 3,000 men a week through 900+ volunteers.

Has mental health always been important to you?

My own personal journey with mental health started way before ANDYSMANCLUB. It started when my eight years old. Without going into a sob story, my parents separated, quite a normal thing to do for a lot of people. But my way of dealing with it was comfort eating and I put on a lot of weight and got big, had a bit of a hard time at school for it. I found rugby which was my crutch, a place where I could go and express myself.

Being a big kid in rugby helps. Mom ends up having a car crash which led to some brain damage, and she developed a mental illness, non-epileptic attack disorder which basically means mum will drop, she’ll fall, you name it, she’s done it.

They moved my mum to where she lives now in a little disabled bungalow., because otherwise she could fall down the stairs and die.

And a result of her illness she developed quite poor mental health, so she developed anxiety where she won’t leave her house for four years at one point just won’t leave on leave for the fear of people judging her having these falls, because it was so stigmatised then, even more so than it is now. That was difficult and the bouts of depression out of that. It was hard to manage and learn and understand it. As a young man, I probably didn’t understand or maybe didn’t believe it.

How did you come to found ANDYSMANCLUB?

On 5th April 2016, my brother-in-law, my partner’s little brother, died by suicide and it came completely out of the blue. Just to give you a backstory, we were out on the Sunday laughing and joking, talking about buying a house. He’d just got promoted at work or they were looking at a promotion at work, everything was going well in his life from what he’d had in the past, he’d completely changed his life around.

On the Sunday morning, he gets up to play football and then he goes to the Palladium with my missus, his daughter and the kids.

And then that night I meet him as I usually would, all of us around my mother in laws for Sunday dinner and then next morning he gets up, goes to work and then doesn’t come home that night. Next morning my mother-in-law gets a knock on the door by a policeman, to say that they’d found her son dead. I’m about to go to a rugby camp with my little boy Alfie, who was so tight with his uncle Andy.

My phone rang, it was my mother-in-law. I said hello and she just said, our Andrew’s dead. And I said, I’m on my way. I dropped Alfie off and shot up to the house. And I remember like it was yesterday, the atmosphere you could have cut with a knife.

Later I had to tell Alfie that his uncle Andy had gone up to heaven, and to hear the scream let out by a six-year-old boy will live with me forever. It absolutely crippled me and was the catalyst for this movement. No family should have to go through what this family’s going through.

Watch the video above to hear the full exclusive interview.
ANDYSMANCLUB has over 120 free support groups nationwide, running every Monday from 7PM except bank holidays. In these groups, men can open up about the storms affecting their lives in a safe, judgement-free and non-clinical environment. Our clubs are designed to be free of pressure, there is no obligation for men to speak, they can simply listen if they wish. Click here to learn more.
Visit our PathFinders hub for more inspirational stories.