Like athletes business needs to face weak spots - Anneli Ritari-Stewart

Businesses, like top performing athletes, need the sense of excitement and hope that comes from having a clear route to achieving their goals.
Anneli Ritari-Stewart, Managing Director, Andragogy.coAnneli Ritari-Stewart, Managing Director,
Anneli Ritari-Stewart, Managing Director,

Last year, I won my first ever physique competition through a meticulous approach to training. I found hope and mental resilience by improving and developing despite the pandemic.

It helped me drive growth for an educational technology and managed learning business. We developed partnerships with the Marketing Society Scotland and the Institute of Data and Marketing (IDM) to help their members measure and benchmark skills with our Digital IQ assessment.

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I found the start of this year challenging and my sports performance suffered. Home-schooling while working is like trying to play tennis and football at the same time. A sense of hopelessness began to affect me. I was still exercising but not effectively training.

I found it tough because I felt stuck - and not just in the house. My progress had stalled because I had no specific, measurable plan to address the areas I needed to improve.

In a similar way, businesses are just as stuck. Most companies provide training. However, research shows that most are not addressing an actual measured skills gap.

Leaders should ask themselves; do we know what our skills gap looks like?

Endless Zoom meetings are putting more pressure on time than ever before. Training must be effective to ensure people spend their valuable time where it matters the most.

I believe there are strong parallels between how we reach peak performance in sport and in business. It is crucial we provide people with data informed plans to help identify their unique opportunities to grow.

It has been a privilege to work with progressive leaders like Calum Sutherland, Digital Marketing Performance Lead at NatWest Group who found that “Digital IQ provided valuable insights for how to best nurture my team and ensure everyone is on their optimal learning path.”

Susie Logan, Chief Marketing Officer at Royal London is another shining example of leading from the front. The message “we are on a digital journey together” hit home when everyone, including the leadership team took the assessment. The project saw a 94% participation rate which provided a detailed overview of capabilities and areas that needed upskilling.

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Interestingly, before Digital IQ participants wanted training in areas where they were already strong. However, afterwards they wanted it in areas where they needed it to perform in their role.

Skills assessment is just the starting point. The crucial work is the training. Experts, AI powered tutors, and gamification make learning highly effective. Yard Digital saw knowledge increase by 44% as their digital marketing team reached peak performance in just five months.

My next goal is the British Masters Powerlifting Championships this summer. My training is addressing my weak points and builds strength to maximise my chances of performing. This has given me a sense of excitement and hope again.

Now is the time for empathetic leaders to implement a data informed approach and lead by example to cement a culture of learning. That will drive business performance. More importantly, it will provide people with a sense of excitement and hope too.

Anneli Ritari-Stewart, Managing Director,



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