Shaun Kirkham

Professional athlete / Digital marketing specialist / Kaz Design - Cambridge, New Zealand

Key Info

  • Bachelor of Communication Studies
  • Management Communication
  • International Management
  • Sir Edmund Hillary Scholar

New Zealand rower Shaun Kirkham is using his experience as a professional athlete and his Bachelor of Communication degree from Waikato to teach and inspire others.

Shaun was a member of the New Zealand Rowing Men’s Eight team that won gold at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

After finishing school at Hamilton Boys’ High School, Shaun choose to study management communication (public relations) and international management at the University of Waikato.

“I needed to be able to study partly extramurally, but I also valued being face-to-face with lecturers," says Shaun. "Waikato offered that middle ground, and the support for athletes is unbelievable. They understand what an athlete goes through and the additional time commitments we have.”

The Sir Edmund Hillary Scholarship programme at Waikato allowed him to rub shoulders with other high-achieving scholars and helped him keep his sights set high. He was able to balance his studies with the highs and lows of professional sport.

Since the Tokyo Olympic Games, Shaun has put his qualification to good use by starting up a number of small businesses that combine his communication and management skills with his passion for rowing.

He has established a digital marketing firm in Cambridge and is currenlty selling his own line of row suits.

Shaun travels around New Zealand speaking at schools and businesses highlighting the importance of perseverance and team culture.

“Be bold," says Shaun. "We have all of these things at our fingertips, all these resources and opportunities – we should make the most of them. There is no harm in pursuing something and failing, we can only learn from it and move on."

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