Meet Welsh Triathlon Limted

As CEO of Welsh Triathlon Limited, Beverley Lewis has plenty of opportunity to speak with leaders and senior managers within the world of sport, what she lacked was the opportunity to learn from small business leaders outside of sport.  

When Lewis heard about the Help to Grow: Management Course, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to find out what business changes could benefit the business. 

“In my head, we were a small organisation still but in actual fact in the last 10 years we’ve grown from 3 people to a team of 10, we’ve moved from 300 members to 3,000 individual members and we now work with 70 clubs. I needed to know where to go next. How to move from a small organisation to a medium-sized organisation that was able to manage its assets to make a profit.” 

Lewis entered the world of Triathlon as the mum of 3 children looking to improve her own fitness levels. She then saw an advert for a part-time administrator for Welsh Triathlon Limited in 2011 which she thought would work well around other commitments. However, the board went through significant changes in 2012 and she soon found herself rising up the ranks.  

“I joined at a good time for the sport. They were moving to a far more professional and commercial approach. The whole governance and self-assurance checks were coming in. There was a lot of learning for everybody to do.” 

A geologist originally, Lewis had no previous business leadership experience when she joined Welsh Triathlon. Sport Wales part funded a two-year, part-time Leadership and Management in Sport Masters course when she first took the helm of the organisation. This provided a lot of the academic framework for leadership but a few years on Lewis felt there was more to learn. 

“I was looking to fill the gaps in my knowledge, particularly gaps in the business world. The Help to Grow: Management Course definitely provided the perspective I was looking for. It gave me a lot of confidence that what we were doing was the right thing but also showed me we could do more, push more boundaries.

My experience was very different from that of other people on the course. We were incorporated as Welsh Triathlon Limited in 2010, but we exist to raise money to put back in to the sport of triathlon. Despite this difference in purpose, all the learning was relevant and very interesting.” 

Growing Welsh Triathlon

The organisation of just ten people has a huge remit. Through the triathlon community it strives to help the health and wellbeing of all people in Wales. It does this in a number of ways. For example, it delivers grass roots experiences, starting with children as young as 4 years old to embed “physical literacy”. It works with schools, clubs, local authorities, event organisers and FE colleges to achieve this. It also has responsibility for the athlete performance pathway in Wales so athletes can achieve on the national and international stage including the Commonwealth Games.  

Recent projects have included working with Women Connect First in Cardiff. By enabling women not traditionally interested in Triathlon and their children to take part in sport in a way in which they are comfortable. Lewis and the team have also successfully worked with British Triathlon, World Triathlon, Swansea City and Event Wales to secure an international event in Wales. This international elite para triathlon will take place in Swansea on August 6th and return for the following two years.  

“The event delivery is with British Triathlon and World Triathlon but Welsh Triathlon is responsible for the legacy that this creates and we have already started engaging with 8,000 children in the community.” 

Lewis joined Cardiff Business School’s first Help to Grow: Management cohort in September 2021. The course curriculum was developed by an Expert Advisory Panel consisting of academics, facilitators and small business leaders. Irrespective of which business school delivers the course, it consists of the same 12 modules split between 4 face-to-face case studies and 8 online sessions.  

“The course covers a lot of material. Every session I went to, I took a lot away from. Some of the content I had to park to come back to but I will use it as I continue to implement our 2020-2030 Strategy Framework and the Purpose of Welsh Triathlon.” 

Implementing business change

The Employee Engagement and Leading Change Module was particularly useful for Lewis.   

“I conducted an intensive staff survey; it was much broader than anything I would have done without the course. I asked questions about our values, as well as what motivates and is important to the team. The insight and honesty I received from doing this survey was phenomenal. I have already made 10-12 significant changes as a result of the feedback I received.” 

The first business change that Lewis made was to the working environment. “Through the survey, I realised that the office was not somewhere people wanted to come back to after Covid. I approached Sport Wales and asked for help in making the office a better place to work. They replaced the carpet, installed better lighting, painted the walls and we went paperless. This really lifted everybody’s spirits. It has made the office the tool it needs to be. The team enjoys coming into work and collaborating together and then works from home when they need to have more thinking time. It is working really well.”  

Lewis has also implemented a key business change to the Personal Development Review, moving from a once-a-year review to a more continuous review process.  

“I wouldn’t have done any of this without the Help to Grow: Management Course. I was able to share the theory with the team, explain where the thinking had come from and then put it into action. On the back of this, I realised that if I did such a comprehensive survey then it was really important that changes were made. Taking action in this way validates me as a leader.”

Working through change with a mentor

Alongside the curriculum content, Help to Grow: Management course also provides 10 hours of mentoring. For Lewis, the mentoring helped ground the learning but it also allowed her to tailor her development to the experience she was going through at the time. 

“Coming out of COVID-19 was a tough time for the organisation and for me as a leader. My mentor really helped me. At any other time over the last few years, we would have had very different conversations. The mentoring complements the course content by allowing you to explore the challenges you are facing at that point in time.”  

A few months after finishing the course, Lewis is still in contact with other business leaders from her cohort and subsequent Cardiff Business School cohorts. They are providing the insight and support from the wider business community that she was missing prior to the Help to Grow: Management Course and helping her to move the organisation on. 

Lewis concludes: “No matter where you are in your leadership journey, you will get a lot out of the Help to Grow: Management Course. I don’t know anybody that would have done the course and not come away with something valuable.”  

You can find out more about Help to Grow: Management here.

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