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Leaders & trailblazers: Hendrick Motorsports' Alba Colón

Part of: Women leaders & trailblazers

In honor of Women’s History Month, we sat down with five different women – a decorated racing engineer, a vice president with three championship rings, a ground-breaking chief marketing officer, an award-winning celebrity vegan chef and a brand developer empowering women and moms. We asked them about life lessons, important milestones and advice for future generations. The resulting conversations serve as inspirational reminders of progress being made and the importance of creating opportunities for the women of tomorrow. 

Growing up in Puerto Rico, a young Alba Colón had her sights set on becoming the first female Puerto Rican astronaut — a dream inspired by the first American woman in space, Sally Ride. However, while obtaining her degree in mechanical engineering, she became involved in a solar race car project, and it was then she realized her true passion. Colón then went on to lead a successful 23-year career at General Motors before more recently joining Hendrick Motorsports as the Director of Competition Systems. Regarded as one of the most influential women in NASCAR, Colón has amassed 42 wins at Hendrick Motorsports, and is a critical component of the organization’s success, including that of Ally's beloved #48 car .

What are some of the biggest challenges or surprises as a woman in your respective industry? 

I would say there were a lot of challenges when I started. There weren’t many females, Hispanics or even engineers in racing. In the beginning, there was a lack of understanding around the capacity of what a woman could do in racing. When I interact with someone who doesn’t think a woman can hold this technical of a role, I choose to educate them by leading by example. That’s what I want, to be an example, especially for young girls.

I will say the biases are lessening, but it does still happen. One day, my team and I were on the track and a young man started asking the men on my team engineering questions, dismissing me as the "PR girl.” I have great respect for my media and marketing colleagues, and I greatly admire what they do, but the man was so assumptive and demeaning. Before I could say anything, one of the men interrupted him and said, “She’s our boss!” 

There's nothing wrong with being different. When you’re younger, you want to blend in and be like the others, but what makes you unique is your strength.

What’s something you wish you knew then that you know now?

There's nothing wrong with being different. When you’re younger, you want to blend in and be like the others, but what makes you unique is your strength. Also, it's ok to fail. Failure is part of success but we're always so afraid of it.  

What work are you most proud of?

There’s a lot I’m proud of in my career, but at this stage in my life, I am so proud to be able to mentor younger people. Not only to share my story, but to also listen to and help guide them – that’s so satisfying. I’m lucky in that I get a lot of wonderful opportunities to communicate and engage with young people about engineering and STEM through Hendrick Motorsports and our Ally partnership .

What’s been a key money life lesson for you? 

Invest early and aggressively. When you get that first check, it’s easy to think about all the things you can buy, but put money aside. Many young people start their careers and think that they can save later because retirement is so far off, but you never know what’s going to come – start as soon as you can.  

What's your advice for young girls and future generations who want to follow in your footsteps?

When I started there was no social media or internet where I could research careers and network really efficiently. There is so much more accessibility – take advantage of it. Educate yourself and network. You can come here [to Hendrick Motorsports] and check out what we’re doing. Just get out there – whatever you want to do – and experience it up close.  

The financial views, information or opinions expressed are solely those of the individuals involved and do not represent those of Ally. 

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