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Q&A with CEO and Co-founder of InsightX, Sophie Elsworthy

Name: Sophie Elsworthy
Current role and Company: CEO and Co-founder

  • What does InsightX do?

InsightX is an intelligence agency which works within Business and Art but with particular expertise in Sport. We support our clients, which include top-flight sports teams, international federations and global sponsors, in gaining intelligence and insight on their prospective partners, investors, athletes and suppliers.

Our global team of researchers and investigative journalists produce best-in-class reports, which support our clients with crisis prevention and protect them from long-term financial and reputational harm.

  • Tell us about your background and what led you to your current role:

From as far back as I can remember, I have loved sport. Many of my defining childhood memories involve sport. You name it, I played it. Rugby, however, was always the front-runner, largely due to my rugby fanatic father setting up a mini rugby club in our village when I was four.

The fact that I eventually went on to represent my country was inspired by his passion for the sport, the drive my mother instilled in me to succeed and my dogged determination to be the best I could be.

I had dreams of turning this passion for sport into a career and, given my affinity for writing, sports journalism seemed the obvious choice. So, with that goal in mind, I attended Loughborough University to study English and immersed myself in a world class sporting environment. Alongside my studies, I became Press Officer for the men’s rugby team, and continued to play rugby, progressing through the ranks and eventually being called up to represent England U20s.

As much as I loved playing rugby, in a world where female players were not yet professional, I then had to make a tough decision. Would I continue to focus on rugby and change my career to suit the relentless training and match schedule, or should I push on and continue to pursue life as a journalist? I chose the latter which turned out to be a real turning point for me and my career.

Upon leaving university, I went straight to journalism school where I qualified and then worked long hours meandering through various (often unpaid) roles within the industry, whilst holding down a city job.

I eventually joined News Corporation’s subsidiary company, Dow Jones, where I started in media monitoring sales, and progressed into managing their sports due diligence business. Six years later, I took a leap of faith and co-founded InsightX, with the goal of pursuing excellence within intelligence and reputation risk, through exceptional research, production and investigative journalism.

Almost two years into my role as CEO of InsightX, I still have to pinch myself at the speed with which the business has grown.

  • What have been the highlights so far?

There have been so many. From onboarding our first clients, to signing off on our Sport Industry Awards partnership and, in the midst of all the professional achievements, giving birth to our second daughter last November.

The days are long, but the years are short, and I have come to realise that every decision, every difficult moment, every triumph has led me to where I am today.

  • How are you balancing work and family?

This is a constant challenge and one which I may have in the beginning made harder for myself by being too proud to ask for help. I think all parents experience a feeling of guilt and realise that, whatever you do, something or someone is going to come second.

I now find myself making better use of my extended support networks, professionally with my business partner, Justin, and personally with my husband and family. I wouldn’t be able to achieve what I have at InsightX without their unrelenting support.

  • What do you find are the down sides to the job (travel/long hours/missing family events/etc)?

I love the challenge and variety of balancing work and family life. I’m never bored and always fulfilled.

Of course, there will always be sacrifices I have to make, either for the business or for the children, but I take each one of these decisions as they come, in the hope that I can make the right call at that particular moment in time. Every now and then I choose to prioritise work over family, but I do so knowing that I am working to create something special, from which they will ultimately benefit.

  • What advice would you give women wanting to do what you do?
    Go for it! You won’t know what you can achieve until you push yourself out of your comfort zone. Get used to feeling a bit uncomfortable; it’s in those moments that you’ll experience the most growth.

  • What advice would you like to give the 25-year-old you?

Back yourself; be confident but remain humble and authentic. Maintain integrity at all times and, in the words of my late former boss and sports business supremo Simon Greenberg, “Don’t ask for permission, seek forgiveness.”

  • What hopes do you have for the women working in the sport business industry in the future?

I feel a huge responsibility to be a positive role model for my daughters, and am encouraged by the increasing number of opportunities for women playing and working within sport.

I hope that future generations make the most of the hard work that the women before them have put in to pave the way for them to benefit from equal opportunities with the industry.

I aspire to pass on to them a world where there is no such thing as a female CEO/coach/ manager, simply a role that happens to be performed by a woman.


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