Research Manager, Lululemon, Vancouver, Canada
Doctor of Philosophy
Her team is responsible for creating the future, says sport and recreation alumna Dr Sian Allen who is now a research manager for global sports apparel retailer Lululemon in Vancouver, Canada.
“Here in Lululemon’s innovation team we get to play at the cutting edge of scientific research and technology to create innovations that support human performance and wellbeing. I love the creativity this remit sparks. I’m always learning in this kind of environment, with people much smarter than me!”
Sian first joined Lululemon in 2017, initially starting as a research scientist before working her way up to her current role as a research manager.
Before making the big move from New Zealand to Canada she applied her understanding of sports performance and performance modelling to help Paralympics New Zealand win a number of medals at the 2016 Paralympics Games.
“After I finished my doctoral degree at AUT, I was lucky enough to get a job with Paralympics New Zealand, working with them as a performance intelligence manager during the Rio 2016 Paralympics Games. The team was incredibly successful in Rio, bringing home nine gold medals, and to be a small part of that success and be able to support some amazing athletes in the process was a great experience.”
A world-class research environment
The skills she developed while completing her PhD at AUT have given her a sound basis for her career now, says Sian who came to AUT after completing a bachelor’s and master’s degree in the UK.
“For my PhD, I used statistical modelling methods to develop tools to track the performance progression and development of New Zealand’s Olympic swimmers. My PhD research resulted in the creation of tangible tools coaches, athletes and high performance directors have used on a daily basis to assess the efficacy of their programmes and help improve the performance of swimmers in New Zealand.”
Because her PhD was a combined scholarship with High Performance Sport New Zealand, Sian got to work closely with elite Kiwi athletes for her research; an opportunity she found invaluable.
“There are some world-class researchers and facilities at the AUT Sports Performance Research Institute New Zealand (SPRINZ). The opportunity to work so closely with athletes and apply your research in real-life environments makes postgraduate study at AUT a really compelling proposition. I loved having both SPRINZ and High Performance Sport New Zealand in the same building at AUT Millennium.”
Creating great graduates
The applied nature of AUT’s programmes sets its graduates apart from those of other universities, says Sian who works alongside other AUT alumni in her role at Lululemon.
“Most universities are very set on curriculums and rote learning. AUT encourages its students to get out into the world and learn and apply their skills, which ultimately builds an incredible bridge for more people to reap the benefits of scientific research.”
She would highly recommend AUT’s postgraduate sport and recreation programmes to other students.
“AUT was one of the first places I’d seen in the world to offer applied PhDs of this kind, and it was a unique opportunity for me to learn from world-class academic supervisors and test my research with elite athletes.”