McLaren announces novel partnership with skills platform Udemy

Next year, McLaren Racing cars in Formula E, Formula 1, IndyCar, and Extreme E will feature a new logo.

Udemy, the online learning platform, will be most prominent on the wing of the NEOM McLaren Formula E Team cars, but it will also feature prominently on the helmets of Formula 1 drivers Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri.

What’s especially interesting is that the multi-year deal with Udemy is not just another sponsorship, and is instead unique in the motorsports world. The brand will become McLaren Racing’s Official Learning and Skills Partner. That means McLaren Racing will get a Udemy Business License and the tens of thousands of business-focused courses that come with it.

“The idea for this partnership between McLaren Racing and Udemy emerged from a shared commitment to purpose, people and performance,” explained Genefa Murphy, Udemy’s Chief Marketing Officer.

“We saw a joint opportunity to come together and align around the belief that success in today’s world is not just enabled by technology or engineering alone, it is a combination of that plus human talent. Everyone is talking about generative AI and artificial intelligence, but we believe the value is in collaborative intelligence where technology and people come together to accelerate outcomes.

“This collaboration signifies our joint dedication to delivering results and making a tangible impact, exemplified by Udemy’s mission to transform lives through learning and McLaren Racing’s ambition to set the standard for high performance in sports,” Murphy added.

The deal is the first of its kind, Kate O’Hara Hatchley, Head of Diversity, Early Careers and Development at McLaren Racing, explained to Caraganza.

“We are thrilled to welcome Udemy to the McLaren Racing family,” said Daniel Gallo, Mclaren Racing’s Chief People and Sustainability Officer.

“Here at McLaren, we believe that our people are our biggest advantage, and we are proud to have Udemy on board to support our team’s upskilling journey. We are excited to further unify our racing series alongside Udemy, while giving our people the opportunity to develop and grow.”

Udemy offers hundreds of thousands of courses in 75 languages in total on topics ranging from business and finance to coding and software and even personal wellness and music. It also features leadership courses that build skills like collaborating under pressure.

“McLaren Racing’s collaboration with Udemy is strategically designed to help boost team performance through targeted upskilling across both technical and professional skills, leveraging Udemy’s online learning platform. We’re looking forward to seeing how this will translate across the whole business, both on and off the track,” said Kate O’Hara Hatchley at McLaren Racing.

The deal comes as learning platforms have become increasingly popular, with US Rowing announcing a similar deal with competitor platform Acorn as its Official Learning Partner.

Founded back in 2010, Udemy secured a multi-billion-dollar valuation when it went public in 2021. Though it’s struggled to maintain those numbers, its stock soared in the week leading up to the deal with McLaren after strong third quarter earnings reports.

Partnering with Udemy is certainly popular for companies outside of the sports world. Multinational companies including Volkswagen, Samsung, and AT&T already use the service, which has hubs throughout the world, as well as organizations like the World Bank.

The deal with McLaren could be a win-win: McLaren Racing gets access to learning resources used by 15,000 other companies and Udemy gets a wider reach for their branding.

“We are excited to partner with McLaren Racing to develop their team, from those in the driver’s seats and pit lanes to those running the business in their corporate offices,” said Greg Brown, Udemy President and CEO.

“Udemy’s fresh and relevant course content will help McLaren maintain a high-performing team, staying ahead of fast-moving and ever-evolving trends in technology and business. We’re equally thrilled to support all four physical race series, demonstrating our commitment to the McLaren team’s learning journey.”

McLaren does believe, as Brown pointed out, that even the team’s athletes can benefit from the platform.

“The types of skills are dependent on the departmental function, for example the aerodynamics team is likely going to consume a different set of skills from the Udemy platform than the Commercial department,” explained O’Hara Hatchley.

“We’re also looking at broader skills such as mental health and well-being, as these skills are critical for teams who are working in a high-pressure environment, in a role that often isn’t a 9-5,” she added.

As the partnership model becomes increasingly common in all sports, giving teams extra funding and brands a fresh chance to actually promote their product in practice, learning partnerships could be a new norm.

“Partnerships such as these which not only provide value for our partner but also optimize the performance of our team are a no-brainer and some of the most impactful partnerships, O’Hara Hatchley told Caraganza.

It’s not just a win for McLaren Racing but a win for its fans too: those interested in McLaren can take the ‘McLaren 101’ course available on Udemy on November 20th. The course, filmed in the McLaren Technology Centre, will discuss McLaren’s vaunted racing history and explain how it’s leveraging the deal with Udemy to expand its potential, O’Hara Hatchley detailed.

Expect more content like that to come out of the partnership going forward, said Genefa Murphy.

“We definitely want to feature content that will appeal to a wide variety of learners including race fans,” Murphy said. “We are excited to host courses and informative webinars as well as live events where we will feature McLaren Racing’s personnel alongside Udemy leaders, to discuss the synergy of racing and learning, and what skills are needed to succeed and build a high performing team.

“As McLaren Racing progresses on their learning journey with Udemy, we’ll share behind-the-scenes content and interviews with team members, to learn first-hand the impact Udemy’s platform has at the pinnacle of motorsport.”

Owen Johnson



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