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.

The Moving Ahead A2B programme, managed in collaboration with the English Institute of Sport Performance Lifestyle Team, leverages Moving Ahead’s specialism in mentoring and the detailed knowledge and expertise of the Performance Lifestyle Advisors. It gives athletes an opportunity to plan for their futures whether they are planning on competing at Tokyo 2018 or have already transitioned into work. It continues the work of the Athlete Futures jobs fair organised by Moving Ahead in 2016 on behalf of UK Sport, the EIS, the British Olympic Association (BOA) and the British Paralympic Association (BPA).

The first intake of the A2B Mentoring Scheme, devised and managed by Moving Ahead, matches 70 current and retired elite athletes with senior leaders at businesses including Santander, PwC, the Environment Agency and Cisco. The scheme carefully matches high potential athletes with male or female top tier executives. The pairs meet in person or by telephone every four to six weeks they and attend a series of learning and networking events to support the nine-month long process.

The overarching Moving Ahead Athlete Network is an opportunity for athlete and business leaders to create connections away from sport and is supported by the BOA, the BPA, EIS, the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust and Sports Aid.

Founder and CEO of Moving Ahead, Liz Dimmock said: “This scheme helps current and retired athletes to prepare for life beyond elite sport. Athletes represent an untapped economic talent pool. 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. Research 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.

“The A2B Mentoring Scheme will provide athletes with exposure to the corporate world, where they will learn from the experiences of others, disrupt their patterns of thinking, and create meaningful relationships with individuals from different organisations. The mentors have a lot to gain by being pushed into seeing life from another perspective. We can all benefit profoundly from escaping our silos and engaging with different perspectives.”

Nigel Walker, National Director of the English Institute of Sport said: “Our Performance Lifestyle Advisors work with athletes on the world class programme to make sure they take away any potential obstacles to performance but also to help them focus on their futures after sport.

“The Athlete Network and mentoring programme launched today is a great example of collaborative working to enhance the existing offering to world class programme athletes, coming together to look after the welfare and long term futures of our athletes, which is something we all care passionately about.”

Jim Lawless, author of Taming Tigers, who taught himself to be a free diver and jockey in a bid to prove anyone can do anything, announced the scheme. Jim is an elite team coach at board level and has advised companies globally on creating cultural change and elite teams. He has designed and implemented successful change programmes in companies including Apple, Barclaycard, and Badminton England. Jim tests his principles on himself before advising others, and became the first Briton to dive below 100m on a single breath of air, and competed as a jockey just 12 months after he first learned to ride.

He said: “Business has no lack of people to calculate the EBITDA or operating performance. We lack drive, authenticity, the courage to risk challenging the accepted limits, and strive until they are broken. We lack the skills of the elite athlete. If we add the right support and mindset to the unique skills of elite sport, we enable some the UK’s most extraordinary talent to write the next chapter of their story; and so, of ours.”

Companies and sports organisations that would like to join or find out more about the scheme can contact Monica Relph at Moving Ahead on 01491 579726 or email



Notes to Editors

1.     The network and mentoring scheme have been designed by Moving Ahead, a mentoring consultancy that focuses on the development of leaders in sport and business.  Moving Ahead and its sister organisation Women Ahead, designs and manages mentoring schemes, workshops and learning materials, offers leading speakers for events, and carries out research and consultancy.

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

3.     During 2016 the Moving Ahead team supported elite athletes in developing the skills they need when thinking about life beyond sport. Up until this scheme launch, this has been:

I.         On a one-to-one basis (working closely with the English Institute of Sport’s (EIS), Performance Lifestyle Advisors on a small ad-hoc basis)

II.         Via workshops delivered with the EIS e.g. with keynotes speakers such as Matt Brittin from Google and Polar Explorer Ben Saunders

III.         Through the design and delivery of the Athlete Futures event at the Ricoh arena in November 2016. This event brought together 300 athletes and more than 50 business for learning, development and a careers fair.


Press enquiries to Timma Marett at or on 07901 682219.