How a world-class kayaker became a respected events organiser

James Ibbotson is a world-class kayaker. He’s competed in World and European Championships - and he’s a graduate of our MSc Events Management.

The perfect course

James has been to World Championships in Canada, Argentina and Spain and European Championships in Germany and Slovakia. In between all his globetrotting and competing, he began running some small-scale kayaking events in his spare time to help grow the awareness of the sport. It was this that helped him realise he wanted to pursue a career in Events Management further.

He says: “I found that I really enjoyed organising and managing events and appeared to be not bad at it. So, from there I thought I could do with some more education on the topic, and the University of Derby’s Masters course sounded perfect!”

James kayaking surrounded by crashing waves
James Ibbotson kayaking

Flexible and supportive

James wouldn’t have completed his degree without the support of the University and his lecturers as he studied part time around his sporting commitments.

He says: “I wouldn’t have got through my first module without them. We talked about all my commitments and how the modules needed would fit with that. I took my degree part time, so that made life easier. During the course, they were there whenever I needed help, wouldn’t be able to make a lecture, or just needed a chat. Both Iride Azara and Eleni Michopoulou in particular were amazing, pushing me to do my best and fully believing in me every step of the way. I feel that by the end they have become more like friends than the tutors they started as.”

Respected in industry

James is now a respected events organiser in the kayaking world and credits the University for his success. He says: “My increased knowledge of the topic has improved my events, and also allows me to assist anyone else who is running or wants to run events.”

A man kayaking through extreme white water

Researching further

James's main area of research was on extreme whitewater events. He says: “We were pretty much free to research any topic we wanted that related to our course. For me, the choice was obvious, extreme whitewater events! I researched what made them successful.

"The definition adopted by the study led me to research the motivations people have for attending. I found it interesting to find out why people attend the events. This area is one not well researched yet, so the academic team are now helping me rewrite the study for publication!”

James is hoping to come back to Derby soon to undertake his PhD.

"It is a brilliant university and the staff are so friendly and helpful," he says. "With students coming from across the world and different backgrounds, you will never be short of friends. I loved my time here, and hope to be back."