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Federation of Irish Sport 'Irish Sport Industry Awards 2023' - Inaugural Women in Business in Sport Award goes to Dr Fiona Chambers

6 Jun 2023
Women in Business in Sport Award goes to Dr Fiona Chambers

This year, the Federation of Irish Sport launched the first Irish Sport Industry Award which recognises Women in Business in Sport and is sponsored by KPMG.

On the 25th May 2023, the winner of the inaugural Women in Business in Sport award was announced as Dr Fiona Chambers. This 'rewards sustained excellence by a female professional working in business related to sport on the island of Ireland that has delivered innovation, growth, leadership or standout services in the industry'. Fiona is recognised because of her work in sport, innovation and education.

Fiona is a senior leader in higher education with 30+ years global experience in education, sport and innovation. She has a very strong background in leading strategic design in multinational educational environments. Fiona has an extraordinary ability to educate people to solve complex problems through human-centred innovation.

Her teaching, research and civic engagement focuses on three core overlapping areas: (i) sport pedagogy, (ii) education and (iii) innovation and design thinking. She believes that her scholarship must have a positive impact on the lives of citizens.

She is a Senior Lecturer in Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy and former Head of the School of Education at University College Cork. You can hear more about Fiona and her moonshot for educating the next 2 billion people in her recently released TEDx talk. She is currently a visiting professor at universities in Austria and Canada and at the UBQT Design School in India.

Fiona is the only Hasso Plattner Institute licenced Design Thinking Coach in her area, a Design Sprint Coach and the only Certified Facilitator of LEGO® Serious Play® Method in her field. She is the founder and co-director of Irish government funded Postgraduate Diploma for Innovation through Design Thinking, which has been run jointly by the School of Education and the Cork University Business School since 2020. She is currently the elected President of the International Association for Physical Education in Higher Education (AIESEP) and is serving a four-year term.

For some time now, she has worked in the area of strategic design within her university, other universities and industry partners, facilitating the design of their strategy with the C-suite. To this end, she founded StrategicDesign@UCC, which is a member of the Global Design Thinking Alliance ( She has extensive experience in applying design thinking (human-centred innovation) across the trisector more broadly, but also more specifically in the area of sport, physical activity and physical education, particularly in EU funded projects.

In April 2020, during the pandemic, she founded the annual Global Design Challenge for Sport and Physical Activity (GDC). Now in its 4th year, it is a free online innovation competition, under UNESCO patronage, which uses design thinking to crowdsource ideas for incubation and impact (see This is the first competition of its kind globally. To date 132 teams have competed across 55 countries, with 580 people completing the Global Design Education programme in design thinking, the United Nations SDGs and how to pitch. The GDC has 20 projects being incubated and accelerated internationally in Ignite UCC, UNESCO and UEFA.

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