How do athletes make Plan B when they’re still in Zone A? We hear from former GB rower Monica Relph and Olympic swimmer Lizzie Simmonds.

How do athletes make Plan B when they’re still in Zone A? We hear from former GB rower Monica Relph and Olympic swimmer Lizzie Simmonds.

Athletes know their time in sport will naturally be limited – by health, wealth, and selection battles, but the end date is not always predictable. It’s essential to have a Plan B brewing while you are still deeply committed to your sport.

Here Monica Relph, former GB rower and development expert at Moving Ahead shares her top tips for creating your Plan B.



A progressive new diversity and inclusion (D&I) programme that broadens the scope of initiatives to include thinking style and personality type as well as gender, ethnicity and sexuality, is being launched next week.Mission INCLUDE, founded by diversity and development experts Moving Ahead, and global management consulting firm Oliver Wyman, brings CEOs and senior executives together to take action to create truly inclusive behaviours and cultures by focusing on the individual talent, not the ‘label’ they sit under.

Pioneering female actuary mentoring scheme launched with support from significant industry names

A mentoring scheme for female actuaries, being officially launched at the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (“IFoA”) on 6 November 2017, has received support from some of the biggest employers of actuaries in the country. The employers that have committed to Project AMP, alongside sponsors Pension Insurance Corporation (“PIC”), are: the Prudential Regulatory Authority, Aviva, Phoenix Group, Mercer, Lane Clark & Peacock, Barnett Waddingham, Xafinity, and the Government Actuary’s Department. 

Project AMP is designed to improve diversity at senior levels of the actuarial profession by helping to stem the worrying level of females leaving the profession much earlier than their male counterparts.

High potential women in career 'danger zone' to be mentored in rapidly growing scheme

High potential women in career 'danger zone' to be mentored in rapidly growing scheme

High potential women in the ‘danger zone’ of their careers will be mentored by senior male and female leaders in the UK’s fastest-growing cross-company mentoring programme, designed to attract and retain women into leadership and Board roles.

The massive recent growth of the 30% Club cross company mentoring programme, designed and delivered by purpose-led diversity and development experts Women Ahead, reflects the recognition of and need for mentoring schemes to balance the gender divide in senior leadership in UK organisations. Today there are 27% women on FTSE-100 boards. 

New UK research: Mentoring is improving gender balance in organisations

New UK research: Mentoring is improving gender balance in organisations

Turning the gender diversity dial, in collaboration with and sponsored by Deloitte, which encompassed more than 6,000 people across 40 major UK organisations, shows that mentoring is creating better gender diversity in the workplace, and enabling organisational cultures to become more inclusive and creative as a result. More than 3,000 years on from the Greek mythological origin of mentoring, it is being used to overcome present-day challenges of the gender pay gap, leadership equality, and the conscious and unconscious biases that exist around gender.
The Moving Ahead research found that structured, formal gender-based mentoring programmes are creating better gender diversity in the workplace by significantly growing women’s confidence, enabling a more inclusive culture and organization, creating positive change beyond the programme, providing the skills and frameworks for more empathetic, accessible leaders and driving best practice for broader mentoring schemes in organisations.

Engage boys and men to empower girls and women says world's leading male feminist

Engage boys and men to empower girls and women says world's leading male feminist

“We cannot fully empower girls and women unless we engage boys and men” – that’s the advice from Dr Michael Kimmel, the ‘world’s most prominent male feminist’ to female business leaders at a 30% Club and Women Ahead celebration event last week.

Hundreds of 30% Club cross-company mentoring scheme participants met at The Mermaid Centre in London on Wednesday 21 June, to celebrate the close of the largest mentoring scheme of its kind in the UK, and to find out the winners of the inaugural #inspiredbymentoring awards.

Dame Helena Morrissey DBE, who was recently made a Dame in the Queen’s birthday honours,  thanked participants on the 30% Club scheme, and the Women Ahead team who mange and deliver this scheme for the 30% Club. She said the scheme is one of her proudest 30% Club achievements.

Baroness Tanni Grey Thompson DBE supports Moving Ahead’s Athlete-to-Business mentoring scheme at London Stock Exchange Group Market Open ceremony

Baroness Tanni Grey Thompson DBE supports Moving Ahead’s Athlete-to-Business mentoring scheme at London Stock Exchange Group Market Open ceremony

Sport and business united today when Moving Ahead’s, CEO Liz Dimmock was invited to officially open the market at the London Stock Exchange with Baroness Tanni Grey Thompson DBE.

The Market Open ceremony was a chance for mentors on Moving Ahead’s life-changing Athlete-to-Business mentoring scheme to hear from business and sports leaders including Tim Jones, Group Head of HR at London Stock Exchange Group, multiple Paralympic wheelchair racing champion Baroness Tanni Grey Thompson DBE and Pam Relph MBE, double Paralympic rowing champion.

Mentoring can change lives and improve business - 30% Club scheme members tell us how

Mentoring can change lives and improve business - 30% Club scheme members tell us how

The largest cross-company mentoring scheme in the UK invited organisations and individuals to a special launch event last week.

The hugely successful 30% Club cross-company mentoring scheme, managed by specialist diversity mentoring experts at Women Ahead, is about to launch its fifth year. The scheme, which matches male and female senior leaders with high potential female mentees from different organisations, has grown from eight participating organisations four years ago, to more than 60 this year and 1,250 mentors and mentees.

We heard excellent feedback on the 30% Club and Women Ahead cross-company mentoring scheme, 2016-17:

“Mentees have tremendous determination and the ability to change the world.  Sometimes they just don’t realise this and so mentors help them to realise that potential.” 

Avril Martingale, Partner, Freshfields


"Everybody talks about culture, but we didn’t really know what that meant for us.  When we looked more closely at our culture, we realised it was very much built around how we do things whereas we needed it to be more about why we do things.  So we have spent time looking at our purpose and really understanding why we exist and the reasons for doing what we do." 

Tracy Blackwell, CEO, Pension Insurance Corporation


“We noticed that at a certain level there was a significant drop in the number of women staying in our organisation.  Mentoring has given an opportunity to help our women see where the possibilities for development exist and what they could achieve if they stayed.”

Simone Vroegop, Head of Consultant Relations EMEA, State Street


“In the mentoring process, the knowledge, learning and insight I am gathering is so incredibly powerful.  Understanding how my mentees juggle their lives is humbling.” 

Dominic Broom, Global Head of Trade Business Development, BNY Mellon


“My goal was to look at building new processes within our organisation.  My mentor clearly had the answers to my issues, but he never just gave them to me.  He made me think about how I could find my own solutions using what I already know.”

Tara Burns, Divisional Director, Man Bites Dog



A first-of-its kind mentoring scheme to accelerate the development of women working in tennis came to a successful close last week, with mentees and mentors saying the experience had been transformational.

The 30% Club sport and business mentoring scheme, managed by Women Ahead, carefully matched senior leaders at Ricoh with female leaders at the Lawn Tennis Association. This is the only mentoring programme in the UK which gives people working in sport the opportunity to be mentored by a top tier executive from the business world. 

Business leaders race to mentor and recruit elite athletes

Business leaders race to mentor and recruit elite athletes

A pioneering Athlete to Business mentoring scheme was announced at the launch event of a first-of-its kind Athlete Network today.


More than 100 athletes and business leaders met at Moving Ahead’s Athlete Network and the A2B (Athlete to Business) mentoring programme launch at the London Stock Exchange on Tuesday 14 March with the help of ‘tiger tamer’ Jim Lawless, international rugby star and Moving Ahead facilitator Maggie Alphonsi, English Institute of Sport (EIS) National Director Nigel Walker, and a host of elite athletes and top tier business leaders.

Do minority networks work for their members, organisations or society?

Do minority networks work for their members, organisations or society?

An in-depth, global research study which uses qualitative data from 31 organisations and a neuroscientific understanding of the workplace. Practical tools to make networks more effective for their members, organisations and society. 

  • Literature findings – the ‘myths’ of networks versus the ‘realities’ at play in networks today
  • The Women Ahead networks life cycle to help pinpoint your network’s development 
  • International Standards for Effective Networks – a guideline to help your networks perform better

ATHLETE FUTURES: Elite athletes make superior employees says new University of Stirling research

Companies are invited to recruit an Olympian and hire a leader at Athlete Futures careers fair

Athletes have been shown to make exceptional employees according to new research from the University of Stirling.

The research conducted through the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust by Professor David Lavallee and Dr Pete Coffee from the University of Stirling demonstrates that being an elite athlete significantly impacts employability potential because they are more confident in their abilities to carry out broader roles in the workplace, and excel in identifying opportunities, taking action and lifting the productivity of their colleagues.

Companies and organisations are invited to attend the Athlete Futures careers fair at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry in 1 November where more than 300 elite athletes, including Olympians and Paralympians, will have the opportunity to meet employers from organisations as diverse as Aldi, Procter & Gamble, the London Stock Exchange and Goldman Sachs.

Professor Lavallee, who will be discussing the implications of the findings at the Athlete Futures event said: “The employment market is one of the toughest in history, not just for job seekers but also for employers. We are at the dawn of an unparalleled skills crisis across the world and witnessing a significant transformation of the workforce.

“Because jobs are changing so rapidly and it is nearly impossible to predict the competencies needed to succeed in even a few years, employability is not solely whether a person has the right skills or not; it’s also whether they have the potential to develop and adapt into fundamentally different and increasingly complex roles and environments.”

Liz Dimmock, CEO of Moving Ahead which is managing the careers fair on behalf of UK Sport, the British Olympic Association, the British Paralympic Association and the English Institute of Sport, said: “This research proves that athletes make exceptional candidates. The Athlete Futures event provides the missing link between athletes and employers. It is critical that we harness the skills and potential of this diverse sector of the UK workforce, and this careers fair is a real step forward.”

World-class athletes have exceptional transferrable skills including a commitment to excellence, natural leadership and resilience under extreme pressure. They are proven team players with strong communication skills. This week’s Heroes Parade in Manchester demonstrated the enormous respect Great Britain has for its athletes and has inspired many new employers to sign up to the event in a bid to add this influential future leadership element to their team.

Richard Branson famously advocates hiring athletes because they are goal driven and achievement oriented, learn from failure quickly and have ‘grit’.

Monica Relph, Senior Client and Programme Manager at Moving Ahead is also a former member of the GB rowing team. She said: “Elite athletes represent a unique talent pool that is full of potential. I can say from experience that bringing my athlete’s positive mindset to work has helped me progress my career quickly. Athletes bring in diverse ways of thinking, a total commitment to the team and discipline. They can also offer motivational speaking for your organisation and become a brand ambassador you will be proud of.”

Employers are asked to come to the event with tangible opportunities such as job shadowing, an internship, mentoring or a part or full-time job. Pledges so far include six-month internships, mentoring packages and a 360° shopfloor to boardroom experience.

All athletes attending have either retired after Rio or a previous Olympics or Paralympics, or they have their sights set on Tokyo 2020 Olympics and are planning their post-sport career. The Athlete Futures careers fair has been organised by Moving Ahead on behalf of UK Sport and in conjunction with the British Olympic Association, the British Paralympic Association and the English Institute of Sport to help athletes secure a fulfilling future after their sports career ends.

Companies, organisations and education providers that would like to attend the event can contact Monica Relph at Moving Ahead on 01189 406828 or


Notes to Editors

1.     Press enquiries to Timma Marett at or on 01189 406828 / 07901 682219.

2.     Moving Ahead works to develop leaders in business and sport through our unique athlete transition programmes that offer corporate partners the opportunity to support and learn from an elite group of people who have dedicated their lives to performing at the highest level. We also design and deliver mentoring schemes and coaching programmes for sports and business leaders, and maintain a roster of exemplary and diverse keynote speakers that includes Olympic and Paralympic athletes, explorers, business leaders and world-class MCs.

3.     The objective of the University of Stirling research was to test whether a unique population – elite athletes who have made the transition from their sport into work - have ‘employability potential’. Our initial research involved an experiment inviting employers to evaluate curricula vitae for a typical entry-level graduate position in their organisation. Results demonstrated that engagement in sport elevates evaluations of potential job candidates ( The research then compared elite athletes who had made the transition from their sport into employment with matched employees who had not participated in sport.  The results demonstrate that being an elite athlete significantly impacts employability potential by being more confident in their abilities to carry out broader roles in the workplace through, for example, being more open to organisational changes. Further, athletes reported higher levels of identifying opportunities, taking action, and persevering until they brought about meaningful change. Athletes reported higher levels of taking personal initiative to have an impact on the world around them and being more able to make changes regarding job demands and job resources. Finally, athletes were reported by their supervisors to have superior job performance in their roles compared to the matched, control participants.  All relationships between the study variables were found to be positive and significant. Self-efficacy was also found to predict job performance and the relationship is explained through employability potential.  

4.     Findings from the research showed that engaging in elite sport elevates employer evaluations of potential job candidates; elite athletes making the transition into work possess essential employability skills; employers should view elite athletes in transition as valuable resources and capitalise on their extraordinary skills to manage challenging economic times.

5.     The research was first presented at the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust More than Medals event last week. More Than Medals is a campaign aimed at raising awareness of the benefits of world class athletes to our society and economy. The Dame Kelly Holmes Trust develops world class athletes beyond sport then supports them to deliver programmes that transform the lives of young people facing disadvantage.




Mentors and mentees in a pioneering scheme to level the playing field for sports professionals gathered to hear international rugby star Maggie Alphonsi talk about overcoming obstacles yesterday at Broadgate Tower in London.

The sport and business mentoring scheme, managed by Women Ahead in partnership with the 30% Club, matches senior managers at Ricoh with leaders at the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) as they reach the middle of their careers. Women’s aspirations and confidence to reach the top tier have been noted to plummet 60% in mid-career due to outside pressures and lack of support


#growthmindset #sportforchange


Maggie Alphonsi MBE, England’s greatest female rugby player, has joined a diverse group of leaders from sports, business and education to shape a national scheme that will encourage girls, boys, teachers and parents to get involved in female sport.


The programme, which is being developed by Women Ahead, aims to encourage girls and boys, parents, teachers, athletes and sporting bodies to increase youth engagement in female sport. It aims to increase positive perceptions of female sport in both boys and girls, which is arguably dented by the lack of media coverage of female sport.


Women Ahead’s ‘big idea’ is to create a national programme that takes boys and girls, their teachers and parents to female sporting events. It would also take athletes into schools to provide coaching and growth mindset training for the children and teachers. These sessions would create an opportunity where children can can truly connect with athletes as role models, learn about sport, and develop a true growth mindset. By engaging the adults, children are far more likely to stick to their chosen sports and be rewarded by all the social and economic benefits that will bring.


Maggie Alphonsi and Olympic medallist rower Sarah Winckless MBE attended the think tank at the Ricoh Womens Open Golf on Thursday 28 July, along with a diverse group of leaders to create a practical plan to set up the pilot scheme which is aims to pilot in some schools later this year.


Maggie Alphonsi said: “When girls get involved in sport, they learn how to succeed in life and how to deal with failure. The most important thing we can share with our children is the ability to set your mind to something and strive until you have achieved it. By getting girls and boys excited about top class female sport we set that bar high for them and can inspire them to achieve their best.”


Liz Dimmock, founder of Women Ahead said: “The importance of playing sport in creating critical life-skills, confidence, goal-setting, resilience, teamwork and positive attitudes to competition. Yet, significantly fewer girls play and engage in sport. This needs to shift. It is clear that sport creates positive mind-sets, networks and also academic success and Women Ahead is inspired and well positioned to bring together diverse minds and experiences to bring about fresh thinking and ultimately to create long-term change.”


Their discussion built on findings from a recent Women Ahead think tank which revealed that girls who don’t play sports are missing out on goal-setting and growth mindset skills necessary for success in the workplace. Fewer women have learned these skills as children and consequently fewer women are involved in top level business roles. Obesity and mental health problems are also on the rise in the UK and sport has repeatedly been shown to be an antidote to these.


Charles Cousins, Head of Youth and Sports Programmes at Women Ahead said: “It is also about developing a growth mindset – the belief that if you want to do something well you can, with determination, hard work and the support of your family, teachers and peers. We want to give children the opportunity to enjoy watching female sport and in turn develop a positive engagement with sport and all the benefits that it brings. Today we have gathered a diverse range of views, ideas, and expert opinions on how best to make this happen. Now we will sift through the evidence to shape the pilot scheme for later this year.”


Chas Moloney, marketing director, Ricoh UK & Ireland said: “As an organisation committed to positive change, Ricoh fully supports this drive to raise the profile of female sport among school children. Having been title sponsor of the Women's British Open since 2007, we know how transformative sport can be in inspiring people to work hard, commit to a goal and aim for success. By working with Women Ahead we hope to be able to instil future generations with these all-too important lessons, while driving greater gender diversity both on the sports field and in the workplace.”


Companies and sports organisations that would like to find out more about the scheme can contact Liz Dimmock at Women Ahead on 01189 406828 or




Notes to Editors

1.     Picture caption, Maggie Alphonsi MBE at the session. Also l-r Charles Cousins, golfer Charley Hull, and Women Ahead’s Liz Dimmock, Eira Parry, Rebecca Davies and Jane Booth.

2.     Women Ahead is an award-winning social enterprise that supports the development of women in sport and business. Women Ahead designs and manages mentoring schemes, workshops and learning materials, offers leading female speakers for events, and carries out research and consultancy.

3.     See for a two minute video about Women Ahead.

4.     Fewer girls engage with sport although 75% say they want to be more active. Girls are the fastest growing demographic group of people taking up sport and yet 11-15 year-old girls are less likely to play for a school team than the boys, be a member of a sports club, or take part in any kind of sporting competition.

5.     Young people’s participation in sport improves their numeracy scores by 8% on average above non-participants. Underachieving young people who take part in sport see a 29% increase in numeracy skills and a 12 to 16% rise in other transferable skills. Returns on investment in sports programmes for at-risk youth are estimated at £7.35 of social benefit for every £1 spent – through financial savings to police, the criminal justice system and the community. (Source The Culture and Sport Evidence (CASE), led by the Department for Culture Media and Sport, has studied published evidence on the varied benefits of sport.)

6.     In 2014, only 0.4% of commercial sports sponsorship went to women. Female sports received just 5% of media coverage. UK sporting boards were heavily led by men, with just 22% of roles taken by women. There were six governing sports bodies with no female representation at all.

7.     Ricoh is a global technology company specialising in office imaging equipment, production print solutions, document management systems and IT services. Headquartered in Tokyo, Ricoh Group operates in about 200 countries and regions. In the financial year ending March 2015, Ricoh Group had worldwide sales of 2,231 billion yen (approx. 18.5 billion USD).
The majority of the company's revenue comes from products, solutions and services that improve the interaction between people and information. Ricoh also produces award-winning digital cameras and specialized industrial products. It is known for the quality of its technology, the exceptional standard of its customer service and sustainability initiatives.
Under its corporate tagline, imagine. change. Ricoh helps companies transform the way they work and harness the collective imagination of their employees. For further information, please visit


9.     The Ricoh Women’s British Open is one of the golfing highlights of the sporting calendar with the 40th Championship making its tenth appearance at the iconic Woburn Golf Club but first since 1999 and for the first time on the famed Marquess course.

10.  As one of only two women Major’s played outside the US, the Ricoh Women’s British Open is the most international major of the season with this year’s star-studded field boasting players from 26 different nations with more than 850 titles between them.

11.  The Ricoh Women’s British Open was founded by the LGU in 1976 and has been staged in conjunction with IMG, the world’s largest sports marketing company, since 1984. The event has been co-sanctioned by the LPGA and LET since 1994 and gained Major status in 2001.

12.  Ricoh are hugely committed to supporting women in sport and business. They are a founding parting to Women Ahead. This is the ninth year that Ricoh have sponsored the Women’s Open – and it a key part of their commitment to women in sport. Ricoh also sponsor ambassadors such as Joanna Konta (tennis) and Charley Hull (golf). Ricoh and Women Ahead won Sport Partnership of the Year at the recent Women’s Sports Trust Be A Game Changer Awards – in addition to Best Collaboration at the Corporate Engagement Awards.


Press enquiries to:-

1.     Women Ahead: Timma Marett at or on 01189 406828 / 07901 682219.

2.     Ricoh: Hotwire PR (on behalf of Ricoh UK) - Alex Sanpera, ,, +44 (0) 20 7608 4675 Tiziana Ruberto – PR Manager,