Enabling Vibrant Story Telling | Dr. Kathryn Ritchie

Enabling Vibrant Story Telling | Dr. Kathryn Ritchie

Dr. Kathryn Ritchie

CEO & Founder of Ignition Institute

Dr. Kathryn Ritchie, CEO & Founder, Ignition Institute, has high energy, a wild curiosity and desire to continue to learn and grow, and a deep commitment to care and give back to the planet – to the individual, to the team, to the organization, to the community, and the globe. “I am not someone who seeks badges or accolades or acknowledgment, this comes from the results I experience, in the relationships I have and the work I do. I am focused on mobilizing and getting things done. I compete with myself and only myself to be better and better,” she says.

“I sit at the edge of change and love to read the patterns of change surrounding me – patterns that impact the groupings I shared above individuals, teams, organizations, communities, and the globe.

I recognize I am but one and want to ensure that Ignition Institute finds its way in making how people interact together better and how we take better care of the planet.”

While Kathryn Ritchie runs her business, right from the inception of her career – working for others or herself, she has ensured to give back. From the beginning of her career, she has served a variety of causes through pro bono work. Kathryn’s greatest mentorship lies in the young women who founded Nabu.org.

The organization is close to supporting one million Rwandan children in developing literacy and more in other geographies, an impact she finds humbling. “Literacy is critical to thriving and successful communities. We support literacy development by triggering and enabling vibrant storytelling – where the stories are written and illustrated locally,” says Kathryn. “Having sufficient mother tongue books, with local stories and illustrative reflections is key. Given I have a father and daughter who struggle to read as a result of dyslexia, it is wonderful to see the impact that these books are having on literacy.”

Additionally, Kathryn’s pro bono work has contributed significantly to the arts sector over three decades. This includes work with the Opera Foundation of Australia an organization awarding international scholarships to up and coming opera talent in Australia, The Song Company—was a leading Australian acapella group, and Ensemble Offspring–an outstanding Australian percussion group.

Inspiration to Young Women

From an early age, Kathryn has had women approach her seeking guidance. She has always made clear the level of commitment and work that is required to be successful. Nobody can do that work alone, and for Kathryn that depends on your support system. “People say you are able to do so much. I say the smoother it looks on the surface the more peddling below.”

Kathryn’s maternal grandmother and great aunt, her grandmother’s sister, were brilliant, inspiring, and highly regarded in the business world and community. These women were real enablers, shapers, and movers and extraordinary role models for Kathryn – both a combination of entrepreneur and social entrepreneur. From her perspective, it is not about fighting and pushing. “At 61 I am still figuring it out. I mentor many young women globally and my priority is Nabu. org. Nabu has a wonderfully diverse team and board to support the mission,” says Kathryn. Armed with this unique ideology, Kathryn has been guiding the organization to new heights.

Connecting & Sharing Vision

More than anything else, Kathryn is motivated by a desire to unleash human potential. While her company, Ignition Institute, focuses on the context of business strategy, the methodologies she applies are informed by a varied life experience and manifest in powerful story telling internally and externally in respect of the strategy narrative. Originally a trained speech pathologist, Kathryn was focused on clients with neurological lesions like head injuries and strokes. This experience allowed her to see the essential ingredients necessary to achieve difficult objectives; clear and genuinely compelling goals (in the case of her patients, a return to their pre-injury lives), proper support, and a clean two-way flow of feedback.

These ingredients translate to organizations, too. Kathryn quickly found the lessons of speech pathology applicable in the context of business. “We continually get in our own way as a result of lack of shared vision and understanding and much more. And there are two clear gaps in respect of execution in the view of Kathryn and Ignition Institute. Firstly, there is often a lack of focus on execution and practical implementation as part of the strategy development process and secondly there is typically a fragmented approach to team building, organization structural change, culture change, leadership development, and other change. We integrate these efforts because they are in service of effective strategy execution. Ignition Institute focused on these gaps from inception and they continue to differentiate us today.”

Pressed for her proudest achievement, Kathryn defers, focusing instead on the impact that her work has on her clients. “We always love to see the impact we have on our client organizations and most particularly the performance uplift and associated strengthening of their strategies and success in driving transformation and execution,” says Kathryn. “For the near future, I am most excited about creating a new space to ignite vision, connectedness and shared understanding amongst leaders and teams.” Personal connection has always been important to her work. “I want to create powerful and transformative experiences for leaders, teams, and entrepreneurs – a place where they can come to connect to their ambitions, visions, and strategies. With more remote and hybrid working circumstances, leaders will need to find new ways to create teams and lead with clarity and cohesion. This requires leaders to create both stability and agile, adaptability simultaneously in their organizations – a clear strategy and an agile, adaptive culture will be key. This new Ignition space in Vermont will be a physical manifestation of this need. I call it the “Ignition Room”. It’s a place to get clear, get aligned, get connected and get ready to execute.”

Despite working with clients across the US and Australia, and after living for many years in NYC, her ‘love city’, Kathryn now calls Vermont home. “I am looking forward to blending time in the Ignition Room with the outdoors, hiking, skiing whatever the desire and then infusing this with the wonderful fresh farmers market food,” adds Kathryn. “We want to continue to hone our approach with fast growth, mid-market and social entrepreneurial businesses – another exciting focus at the Ignition Institute.” She is currently working on a series of books to be published about the process of strategy execution, through the eyes of its founder and CEO. “Someone described it as a window into the process of igniting business performance. I’m hoping it will trigger the readers’ curiosity as well as to provide insights that might improve the success in the endeavor of executing their own strategy.”

Dr. Kathryn Ritchie Award

" We always love to see the impact we have on our client organizations and most particularly the performance uplift and associated strengthening of their strategies and success in driving transformation and execution. "

Dr. Kathryn Ritchie

CEO & Founder of Ignition Institute

The Corporate Magazine Business Leader April 2022 Edition
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