Krystina Emmanouilides is a Greek Australian woman carving her way through the male-dominated world of motorsport.
Speaking to ABC News, Krystina shares how she went from dreaming of working in Formula 1 to actually becoming a computational fluid dynamics (CFD) development engineer in Alfa Romeo’s ORLEN Formula 1 team.
“We use data from the track and the wind tunnel, and we do a lot of checks and improvements constantly to increase the quality [of simulations],” Krystina told the media outlet.
Growing up in the inner suburbs of Melbourne, Emmanouilides’ family lived close enough to Albert Park Circuit that the roar of engines soundtracked her childhood. This saw her want to study mechanical engineering but she just had to find a way in.
“I was doing research on the internet, but there wasn’t a whole lot of information, like, how do you get into F1? It’s a very exclusive field,” she said.
Eventually, she got into Oxford Brookes University and travelled alone to Oxford, 90 minutes north-west of London, UK, to study a field heavily dominated by men.
“The chances that you were in the same class as another woman was always very low,” Krystina explained, while recalling how there were five women in engineering — herself included — out of roughly 300 students.
Nevertheless, Krystina, who is also openly gay, found her group of reliable fellow students who she could lean on when studies became especially challenging and competitive.
“I never wanted to just be treated as one of the guys. But I felt like I belonged. I had worked hard to get there, just like everyone else, I had the same interest as everyone else, I wanted to be in the same place as everyone else. So I belonged there,” she said.
Now, with a foot in the door in the Formula 1 industry, Krystina is focused on not only succeeding and making changes for herself, but for the women and LGBTQI+ community coming through after her.
“There are many steps left in my career progression. And like I said, I’m here to stay but at the same time, I don’t want to take my position for granted. F1 is such a small pool for engineering,” Krystina said.
“As I climb the ladder, and I sort of have a little bit more control over that, I am really keen to make sure that I can be in a position to give more opportunities to students from different backgrounds.”