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August 12, 2020

Accelerating Change: the Beginning

When two friends with a vision decided to accelerate change.

Mariana Small & Christina Nielsen
General Interest

Someone recently shared that life's purpose was to discover one's own gifts and freely give them away. This gave me pause, but then I realized, what brings joy and satisfaction to both Christina and I, through Accelerating Change, is doing just that.

Let me briefly introduce myself: I'm Mariana Small, and I am the co-founder and COO of Accelerating Change.

A little over a year ago, I produced an event where we hosted a Women in Automotive panel where Christina was the principal speaker. After the event, we got together and started talking about our passions, things that were important to us and the projects we'd like to see come to life. During these conversations, we realized we both believed in the importance of creating better and more opportunities for women to experience new things in the automotive space while exploring their potential and becoming part of a community dedicated to seeing them succeed. And so, the idea of Accelerating Change was borne.

My co-author on this blog, Christina Nielsen, is the co-founder and CEO of Accelerating Change. Christina has been racing for about 15 years and has worked with some of its most influential people. Not only is she a professional race car driver, but she is also a 2x IMSA champion who has made history as a woman several times within our industry. She has been a part of breaking down barriers within our industry for years and continues to represent women on an equal playing field among her male competitors and co-workers.

As a duo, we each bring a different skill set to the table that we have benefitted from and utilized to create Accelerating Change. We might each have our strengths, but our vision for Accelerating Change is singular.

Both of us have been a part of predominantly male-led industries; Christina in the automotive and motorsport industry for 10 plus years. With so many sectors going through changes, specifically where more women are becoming the main decision-makers, stepping into leadership positions, and starting independent businesses, we wanted to push for this change within the world we love, the automotive world.

Accelerating Change was created to include more women in the industry, showing them that there are opportunities for them here and that standing together and creating volume is essential for us to be heard and taken seriously. We created a community of women who are the fuel to our mission and create opportunities for each other.

We have been fortunate to have progressive partners like Michelin, Porsche, and AMG that share our vision and acknowledge the importance of the female demographic and their decision-making power. Our ambition is to continue to grow these relationships because we believe in long-term partnerships beneficial to our participants/members, our partners, and the organization. As Accelerating Change grows, we look forward to including even more partners who share our vision and want to see the industry change to become inclusive and welcoming.

With all of that said, it is never easy being a startup. The number of hours and work that is put towards hosting on a single event would probably surprise most people. But in the end, it's the smiles and enthusiasm we see in our participants and partners that make it all worth it. We can't wait to create bigger and even more expansive events in the future.

We are here to leave a mark and have a positive impact on the industry. Our mission is to grow Accelerating Change to a point where many more women can experience the automotive industry and when someone thinks of females in the automotive space, they think of Accelerating Change.

About the author:
Mariana Small & Christina Nielsen

With over 15 years as a marketing executive and over three years as President of an automotive non-profit, Mariana has extensive experience in marketing and operations. Before Accelerating Change, Mariana led multi-national, cross-functional teams executing market research, design, communications, media buying, and events. She began working with female-focused organizations back in 2009 after joining the Los Angeles chapter of the Association of Junior Leagues International. She has also served on the Board of Taking the Reins, an organization helping at-risk girls develop skills and confidence by working with horses. In addition to Accelerating Change, Mariana runs a marketing agency and is President of Porsche Club of America, Los Angeles. Mariana has an M.B.A. from Fundação Getulio Vargas, certificates from Harvard Business School in Strategic IQ: Creating Smarter Corporations, and Strategic Marketing Management, and a certificate in Positive Psychology.
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Accelerating Change
Christina Nielsen
Mariana Small
Women Drivers