A Question of Performance

In A Question of Performance we talk with leaders in business, elite athletes and coaches, people who have overcome challenges and those at the top of their game, about what improves, limits and drives performance in sport, the workplace and life.
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A Question of Performance



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Jul 17, 2018

Episode 31 is an interview with Performance Lifestyle Advisor to GB Hockey - Emma Mitchell. Emma is also a former international rugby player and 1994 World Cup winner

We talk about the issues and challenges of her role, what it was like on the inside when England women won gold, and how she supports athletes to develop the skills and qualities needed to cope with the special demands of high performance sport.

Emma joined the EIS as a Performance Lifestyle Adviser in February 2007 and has experience of supporting over 100 elite GB Hockey athletes and coaches over three Olympic Cycles. Before joining the EIS, Emma was a successful senior executive with twenty years of experience in the publishing and sports clothing business sectors in the UK and USA.

From 1987-2002 and whilst working full-time, Emma played rugby for England winning 52 caps at scrum half and competing in four World Cup campaigns, with the 1994 World Cup win being her career highlight. Following her retirement, she went on to coach at club, regional and international level in the USA, Canada and the UK.

Emma is a History graduate from Loughborough University, holds an ILM Level 7 Certificate in Executive Coaching and Leadership Mentoring and is a UK Sport endorsed mentor. Over the last 5 years, Emma has also provided support to a number of UK Sport ECAP and sports coach UK Aspire coaches from Tennis, Squash, Sailing and Boxing.

Jun 1, 2018

Episode 30 is an interview with the Managing Director of iris Culture, Laura Weston. 

As MD of a leading sport and entertainment agency she talks about how you can bring a brand to life with sport, the excitement of breaking conventions and why working on the Launch of FA Women's Super League (WSL) was one of her proudest moments.

Twice nominated for the prestigious BT Sports Industry ‘Agency of the Year’ Award, iris Culture is known for its creative and innovative work for global brands such as adidas, Samsung and Speedo.

Laura worked with The FA for three years launching The FA WSL and supporting the England women’s football team and recently advised her Sydney office on the amplification of Samsung’s sponsorship of Australian netball. Her goal is to help brands understand both the creative and commercial opportunity working with women’s sport can bring.

As a former county netballer and athlete Laura has seen the benefit that sport has had on both her life and career, so is keen to inspire other women and girls.

May 1, 2018

Episode 29 is an interview with Helen Richardson-Walsh MBE. Over the course of her 17-year international Hockey career she amassed 19 medals including an Olympic bronze at London 2012, the European Championship title in 2015, World Cup bronze and Commonwealth silver, before finally reaching the pinnacle of her sport with an Olympic gold at the Rio Olympics 2016

We talk about how hockey has developed as a sport and what it’s like to play at an elite level. Helen also also talks openly about mental health in sport and her own battle with depression. For those of you wanting a bit more on the stories we both reference - I’ll pop some links below.

Hope you enjoy our chat.

Apr 1, 2018

In episode 28 we talk with founder and editor of Ali Donnelly. 

Ali is also a monthly contributor to Rugby World Magazine and regularly speaks across media outlets about the game. The website was given a special award by the Rugby Writers Association for its contribution to the women’s game and Ali was last year named by Rugby World Magazine as one of the most influential people in rugby.

Away from, Ali is the Deputy Spokesperson to the Prime Minister, balancing a high profile and busy day-job at Downing Street, with delivering quality content for the website, which she runs as a volunteer, and its social media feeds. She is also Head Coach for the Teddington Women’s Team.

Ali takes a broad view on what it is to grow the women’s game. She shares her insights, her determination and gives us a glimpse at what it really takes to start something from scratch.  

Mar 1, 2018

In episode 27 we talk with the Head of Women's Football at Manchester City, Gavin Makel. Manchester City are trailblazers for the women's game with successes both on and off the pitch. They have also recently launched a new club wide campaign focused on promoting women's football. 

We discuss the growth of the game, risk taking, authenticity, and the importance of having a coherent vision that fuels performance. 

Gavin’s involvement in professional football goes back over ten years when he worked within the football operation of the Manchester City’s community foundation. In his current role as Head of Women’s Football at Manchester City he is responsible for the business operation of the organisation which encompasses player recruitment, marketing, commercial, finance management and match day operations. He sits on the European Club Association Women’s Football Committee Bureau and is currently undertaking a Masters in Sports Directorship at Manchester Metropolitan University.

Commenting on the women’s team set up, Gavin has stated:
‘We are here to challenge and change the perception of women’s football. We are professionalising a sport which traditionally hasn’t received the support or resource it has deserved’.

Feb 1, 2018

In episode 26 we talk with a netball superstar, Tamsin Greenway. As a former England international, a former England coach, a Sky Sports pundit and now Director of Wasps Netball, she has a unique insight into the whole sporting system.

We discuss the challenges and rewards of being an England player and then coach, how she is building Wasps Netball from the ground up, and the impact Sky Sports broadcasting is having on the sport. 

Tamsin Greenway is a former England international netball player, former England coach and now Director of Wasps Netball. Greenway guided Wasps Netball to the Vitality Netball Superleague title in the club’s inaugural season – her third consecutive title after back-to-back victories with Surrey Storm.

Jan 1, 2018

In episode 25 we talk with Kate Dale who is campaign lead for one of the highest performing behaviour change campaigns in the UK – This Girl Can. We discuss her personal love of the stories and drama of sport, find out what it was like right before the campaign launched, and discover the importance of “going where people are at”.

Former journalist Kate Dale is Strategic Lead, Campaigns at Sport England. Kate is responsible for delivering This Girl Can, Sport England’s multi-award-winning campaign, which is changing the way millions of people think about exercise and physical activity, and has seen 2.8 million more women get active as a result.

Prior to this, Kate spent 10 years as a trade magazine editor before becoming a brand and content specialist for major online banking institutions including Barclays. When time permits, she like to takes part in triathlon, learn to dance and perform with immersive theatre groups such as You Me Bum Bum Train.

Dec 1, 2017

In episode 24 we talk with cricket legend and World Cup (2009) winner Ebony Rainford-Brent.  We discuss how she's navigated the ups and downs of her career and how she's constantly seeking out new opportunities to grow and develop within and beyond cricket. 

Ebony is a former English cricketer, who was the first black woman to play for the England team and also captained the Surrey Women’s team. Since retiring from cricket, Ebony has gone on to become the first Director of Women’s Cricket at Surrey County Cricket Club; pundit and broadcaster for the BBC flagship radio programme Test Match Special (she is one of the first female expert summarisers to commentate on men’s international cricket matches); and is also a Motivational Speaker and hosts ‘The Art of Success’ a fortnightly motivational podcast.

Ebony was a member of the England Team that won the 9th ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup in Sydney 2009. In the three months following their World Cup win, the team went on to win: the ICC Women’s World Twenty20, the Natwest One Day series and retained the Ashes.

Visit her website here.

Oct 31, 2017

In episode 23 we talk with Director of Participation and Development at the FA, Kelly Simmons MBE. We discuss the scope of her role, what's changed over the 20 years she's been working in football and how the injustices of not being able to play as a young girl is still a driver today.

"This generation deserves better opportunities than I had."

Kelly is a member of The FA’s management team and oversees the National Game including children’s, grassroots and semi-professional football. She is currently leading the development and implementation of The FA National Game Strategy, which will invest £200m into grassroots football over a four-year period.

A member of the UEFA Grassroots Panel and the FIFA Women’s Committee, Kelly’s hard work and determination was recognised in 2002 when she received an MBE for her services to football. A figurehead for women’s football, she is responsible for the implementation of The FA’s ‘Game Changer’ which outlines plans for women’s football, including the development of the new semi-professional FA Women’s Super League.

Sep 28, 2017

In episode 22, we talk 'sports marketing' with Nathan Homer. It’s a fascinating conversation about how sports marketing is evolving and how rights holders can work with brands to enable both parties to achieve their ambitions.

Nathan Homer is currently Chief Commercial & Marketing Officer at European Golf Tour. He has a wealth of experience of working with global brands and has a track record of creating compelling world class marketing programmes for different brands and audiences, across varied demographics.

Aug 1, 2017

In episode 21 we take a moment to reflect on what Olympians, World Champions, and Leaders in sport think their best performance enhancers actually are.

"It’s in those spaces where most of our physical and psychological growth occurs"

At the end of each of these podcast episodes I’ve asked my guests a series of ‘quick fire questions. One of those questions is, ‘What's your best performance enhancer?’ Listen to what people actually said...

Jul 19, 2017

Can you have it all? In episode 20 we chat to BBC and BT Sport Broadcaster Reshmin Chowdhury. We discuss the captivating nature of sport, how as a mother of two she juggles multiple responsibilities and how one always has to be at the top of your game on live sport.

Reshmin Chowdhury is a multilingual sports presenter, reporter and event host, broadcasting globally for the BBC and BT Sport. She is one of BT Sport’s key reporters for the UEFA Champions League and Europa League. She also works across BT’s FA Cup, BDO Darts World Championship and NBA coverage and previously anchored the network’s nightly news show, SportsHUB.

For the BBC, Reshmin has covered news from almost every recent major sporting event for BBC World News and the BBC News Channel since 2010, most recently reporting for BBC Radio 5Live at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio.

Reshmin began her career at Reuters TV News and honed her skills as a producer at BBC News, ITN and Bloomberg TV. Her work has taken her as far afield as Africa, Asia and the Middle East. She is an ambassador for the Prince of Wales’ charity, the British Asian Trust and the Heart4More Foundation. She is a keen mentor, working at Kick it Out’s “Raise Your Game” conferences and the Mosaic charity.

Jun 30, 2017

How can we support children to develop into elite athletes? In episode 19 we chat to Performance and Coaching Scientist, Katie Richards. We discuss the explosion in success of British Gymnastics, the issues facing young elite performers and how a supportive coaching framework can enable talented children to develop.


Katie Richards is a Chartered Scientist, BASES Sport & Exercise Scientist, Senior Lecturer Sport Psychology at St Mary’s University and is completing her PhD in the skill acquisition strategies utilised by high-performance coaches, and their psychological impacts.

She has worked in a range of sports including gymnastics, mixed martial arts, pistol shooting, synchronised swimming, golf & Paralympic sitting volleyball. She is most active within the discipline of women’s artistic gymnastics and was National Squad Coach in Aerobic Gymnastics 2007-2010. Currently she concentrates the majority of her time towards developing young performers (5-10 years) towards the elite performance pathway.

Visit Katie's website here.

Jun 16, 2017

How do you inspire a nation? In episode 18 we chat to Sharon Fuller – the editor of BBC Sports new live events service. We discuss behavioural change campaigns, how audiences are consuming sport across broadcast, digital & interactive content and how she measures success.

Sharon Fuller is an Editor at BBC Sport and has worked the broadcast coverage of multiple events covering everything from Archery to Zumba including the odd Formula One season and an Olympics or two. She runs the BBC's Get Inspired campaign to get the nation active as well as Red Button and Live Stream sport. She's a champion of diversity and of promoting women's sport. She is also often seen getting her hands dirty at cycle races.

May 31, 2017

In episode 17 we talk with Anna Kessel about the role of sport within society, what makes a high performing story, and what motivates her campaigning drive. We also hear her thoughts about how journalism has changed over the past 15 years.

Anna Kessel is a sports journalist, acclaimed author and vocal campaigner on equality in sport.

A rare example of a female journalist in her field, Anna published Eat Sweat Play: How Sport Can Change Your Life (Macmillan) in 2016, a passionate polemic aimed at bringing sport to the female masses.

A Guardian and Observer journalist since 2004, Anna has covered three Olympic Games, several World Cups, Euros and World Championships, and interviewed some of the biggest stars in global sport.
Co-founder and chair of Women in Football (WiF), an organization lobbying against sexism in the game and championing female role models, The Independent described her as a “fearless adversary of sexism” in their list of the 50 Most Influential Women in Sport.

In 2016 Anna was awarded an MBE for services to journalism and women in sport.

May 14, 2017

In episode 16 we talk with Annamarie Phelps about what it's like to lead a sport, the importance of elite role models, and how British Rowing has evolved into an Olympic powerhouse sport. We also hear about how she navigated the highs and lows of her own international rowing career. 

Annamarie Phelps CBE is Chairman of British Rowing, vice chairman of the British Olympic Association and a Trustee of the British Paralympic Association.

Annamarie enjoyed a successful international rowing career representing Great Britain at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta (women’s eight). Annamarie also competed in World Rowing Championships between 1991 and 1995 as well as the Commonwealth Regatta in 1994. She was World Champion in 1993 (lightweight coxless fours) and World Indoor Rowing Champion and World Indoor Rowing Record holder between 1992 and 1995 (lightweight women).

Apr 30, 2017

In episode 15 we talk with Kelly Smith about her football career, how the sport has changed over the past twenty years and her views on success. We also talk about what it's like being in the public eye and how it feels to embark on a new career as a coach.  

Kelly Smith, arguably England’s greatest ever female player, dedicated her whole life to playing football and retired from international duty after 20 years. Kelly was the first England Women’s superstar, on the global stage. One of Smith’s greatest strengths was her longevity, defying lengthy injuries and her age to steal the show in big matches in the twilight of her career. A surprise selection to start the 2016 Women’s FA Cup final aged 37, having required ankle surgery in 2015, Smith shone under the famous Wembley arch in the number 10 role. That display was typical of the enduring class that saw her shortlisted for the 2015 Women’s Players’ Player of the Year award when she was 36.

Apr 14, 2017

In episode 14 we talk with three-time Olympian and former world champion rower, Cath Bishop about how culture impacts performance. We discuss competition, how she was chosen as the 'last resort' for her University crew, the psychological challenges of coming second and her pride in becoming world champion in 2003.

Cath Bishop is a former Olympic medalist rower and respected diplomat who has spent time in some of the world’s most hostile conflict zones. She is also a visiting professor at the Surrey School of Business and Chair of the Cambridge University Women’s Boat Club.

In partnership with Katherine Grainger she was World Champion in the coxless pair in 2003, and in 2004 they won a silver medal at the Olympic Games.

Mar 27, 2017

In episode 13, Sue Anstiss talks about the journey from founding her company in the back bedroom at age 26 to running an award winning sports PR agency almost 25 years ago.

Sue Anstiss is the founder and MD of Promote PR, a multi-award winning agency specialising in the field of sport and fitness for over 20 years. Promote is renowned for its work with women and girls – driving grassroots sports participation and fitness.

A founding Trustee of the Women’s Sport Trust, Sue is also Chair of Get Berkshire Active, a Board Member of the County Sport Partnership Network and a member of ukactive’s Supplier Council.

A former volleyball player turned netballer, Sue took up triathlon in recent years and has represented Great Britain in World and European Age Group Championships.

Mar 14, 2017

Jeanette Kwakye credit Mark Shearman In episode 12 we talk with Jeanette Kwakye about her sprinting career, the stress of injury and what it was like stepping out into an Olympic final. We also talk about her transition to life in the media and what it's like being on the other side of sport.

Jeanette Kwakye was a three-time British champion over 100m in 2007, 2008 and 2011. She competed at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, finishing sixth in the individual 100m with a time of 11.14 – a personal best – and was unlucky to miss out on a medal in the 4x100m relay when the British team failed to finish due to a mix-up in the final changeover. At the 2007 European Indoor Championships she recorded a time of 7.17 seconds in the 60m - the fastest time by a British woman since 1986. (This record is still un-beaten - however Dina Asher-Smith matched it in 2015.) Since retiring from athletics in 2013, Jeanette, a qualified journalist, now works for the BBC and Sky Sports as a sports reporter and writes for The Guardian on issues affecting Women in Sport.

Feb 24, 2017

In episode 11, I talk with Sally Munday about her role as Chief Exec of a National Governing Body. We find out what it was like behind the scenes at the Rio Olympics when GB Women won team gold. We also discuss her approach to leading the sport, how she builds an environment that enables success and her future aspirations for the sport of hockey in the UK.

Sally has been working in hockey since 1998.  After five years as Regional Development Manager in the South she moved into the Development Director role in 2003 when England Hockey began as the National Governing Body.  In January 2009 she took on the new role of Chief Executive.

She describes herself as a social player and until 2009 was also a keen a Team Manager having managed England and Great Britain teams, club side Slough, and Berkshire and South Juniors.

Sally previously worked for the Lawn Tennis Association and has also worked in local authority leisure facility management.

Feb 14, 2017

In episode 10, Andy Barrow talks about living in the bubble of elite sport, his time as GB Wheelchair Rugby captain and his current role inspiring other people.

Andy Barrow is a triple Paralympian and three-time European gold medalist. He was a professional Wheelchair Rugby player for Great Britain for over a decade, captaining the team for five years spanning the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing. Andy competed at London 2012 Paralympic Games before retiring internationally to pursue a career as an inspirational speaker and mentor.


Twitter: @AndyBarrow2012

Jan 21, 2017

In episode 9, Jo Bostock discusses the need to question how others are judging performance and talks about how she gives leaders the space and the provocation to think through who they are and what matters to them most.

Jo Bostock is the founder of Pause Consultancy, a leadership development business that advises global businesses, leading media organisations and influential third sector clients on inclusive leadership. She believes that it’s vital for senior leaders and top team teams to understand the values that drive them and what it means in practice to be authentic. Through coaching, workshops and conferences, Jo is keen to stimulate critical reflection and debate about how people can exercise influence about the things that matter to them. Jo specialises in gender progression in the workplace and has written a book for Cambridge University about the different ways in which women see themselves as successful.

Jo also co-founded The Women's Sport Trust (WST) charity with A Question of Performance podcast host, Tammy Parlour. WST is a leading a leading UK charity focused on using the power of sport to accelerate gender equality and stimulate social change.

Jan 13, 2017

In episode eight, Ian Byers talks about the motivations, challenges and successes of setting up a sports management company with Paralympic champion Hannah Cockroft MBE.

Ian is Managing Director of 17 Management, a sports management agency whose clients include Paralympic gold medallist Hannah Cockroft MBE and Paralympic bronze medalist and 9 times grand slam champion (wheelchair tennis) Jordanne Whiley MBE. Ian strongly believes in establishing a culture and creating the right environment to allow talent to perform to the optimum. Ian describes the ethos of the company in a nutshell, “what is in the best interest of the athlete”. Ian is a UK Athletics Approved Athlete Representative, FA registered intermediary and a UK Anti Doping (UKAD) Accredited Advisor.

Read more about Ian and 17 Management here:

Dec 29, 2016

In episode 7, Claire Bennett talks about athlete transition. We explore life as an international athlete, the emotions associated with retirement and how she works with other elite athletes to shape their life after sport.

Until August 2012, Claire was a member of the Great Britain women’s foil fencing team and part of the World Class Performance Programme. She has represented Great Britain in European and World Championships since the age of 14. As captain of England Claire won individual Bronze and Team Gold at the 2010 Commonwealth Fencing Games. Whilst studying for her modern languages degree at Durham University she was British Universities Champion.

Since stopping fencing after 2012, Claire now wants to help inspire and encourage young people and adults alike to achieve their potential. She is a keen writer and motivational speaker. “I know first hand how much of a positive impact sport and mentoring can have on a person’s life. I have learnt so much about myself through sport. Therefore on a basic level I have a strong wish to give something back and share my experiences to help people achieve their potential.”

Claire is now the Athlete Manager at the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust and supports their team of elite athletes in their lives beyond sport. Claire is an Athlete Supporter of the Women’s Sport Trust and is involved with several organisations directed at women. She is dedicated to progressing women in sport and inspiring young girls to achieve their potential.

In her spare time she has written for the London Evening Standard as a columnist and for the Daily Telegraph in their Olympics section. Claire also commentates for Eurosport as their fencing expert.

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