BSc (Honours) Catering Systems, class of 1986
A former student of Sheffield City Polytechnic, Ian graduated in 1986 and is now a futurologist, which involves looking at the future and how people will live, work and communicate. He lives in New Zealand where he works at Victoria University of Wellington focusing on the future of tourism.
'It’s now 24 years since I left Sheffield City Polytechnic. In 1986 Mark Zuckerberg, the co-founder of Facebook was only two years of age, President Obama was a community worker living in Chicago and Sheffield Wednesday played in the top flight of English football – and it was the year I graduated and began my journey.
'Since leaving Sheffield I have always wanted to teach and do research. At the University I was dyslexic and struggled with coursework. In fact, I failed the first year of the degree and had to appeal against the decision of the exam board. With the support of the University and Sheffield Dyslexia Association, I received focused study skills support to help me get through the degree. As a consequence, I have a strong respect and passion for teaching and research.
'Upon graduation I took seasonal hotel jobs in the Lake District and Bournemouth before being appointed as an assistant manager with the Trust House Forte (THF) chain at the Dudley Hotel in Hove. I worked for THF for seven years in a variety of positions in the UK before taking up a temporary teaching appointment at Birmingham College of Food, Tourism and Creative Studies where I stayed for 18 months.
'Moving to Napier University in 1994 was a big stepping stone. There, I was asked to teach yield management and hadn’t a clue what it was. There was very little published on the topic, so I decided to write a book about it and at the same time established the Journal of Revenue & Pricing Management. By 2011 I will have completed 10 volumes.
'My real passion for research was around systems thinking and problem structuring methodologies, which was the basis of my PhD. In 2002, an opportunity came up at Visit Scotland to apply that PhD research and become the world's first scenario planner in tourism.
'Over the next eight years I established the process of scenario planning and futures thinking within that organisation. I published extensively in academic journals on the topic, was keynote speaker at many international events and was described by the UK Sunday Times as the country’s leading contemporary futurologist. I also received a number of academic awards, including my appointment as a visiting professor at Stirling University and as a visiting research fellow at Sheffield Hallam University. In 2008, I published my first futures book Tomorrow's Tourist which predicts where the tourist will be going on holiday in 2030 and what they will be doing.
'In 2008 it was time for a change, so I emigrated to New Zealand to take an appointment as an associate professor of tourism futures at Victoria University of Wellington where I am based now. Since I have arrived here, I have perused a national and international agenda in futures research. I speak around the world at many events on the future of travel and tourism, including most recently at the International Youth Hostel Association Conference in China and for Failte Ireland on the future of food and culture.
'I recently appeared on Macau TV speaking about the future of gambling and Australian Radio about tourism in that country. More controversially I spoke about the future of sex tourism and robots as sex workers which became a big international tabloid story (just google robots and Ian Yeoman for further details). As a futurologist you can use a lot of imagination - it’s all part of the job!
'I am presently undertaking research for the New Zealand Ministry of Tourism examining the future of tourism to 2050 (see www.tourism2050.com) and a European regional project looking at the future of tourism in Friesland, Northern Holland. I love research and never stop writing. I have just finished two books which are due to be published in December 2010 called Tourism and Demography (Goodfellows, 2010) and Practical Pricing and Revenue Management (Palgrave, 2010). At the same time I am juggling other publishing commitments including 2050: Tomorrow's Tourism (Channel View, 2011).
'Life is wonderful in New Zealand. I support Wellington Phoenix, the only professional football team over here in a rugby mad country. I have an Xbox but am still classified as a novice. Lifestyle over here is very much about the outdoors and I am a keen tramper [hiker]. It is a great way to see a country. The only thing I miss about the UK is Sunderland AFC, so I try and see them whenever I am back.
'What does the future hold for me? I should know the answer to that considering I am a futurologist. I will see where life takes me. I am presently studying towards a postgraduate diploma in teaching and learning in higher education and will start a higher doctorate at Sheffield Hallam University by 2012. Basically I am having a good time and just enjoying life with lots of travel, some good wine and great views.
'Sheffield City Polytechnic was brilliant and very supportive. I had some excellent lecturers like David Kirk and Xone (we had some lecturers with very futuristic names in 1986). My catering systems degree shaped my present thinking and knowledge. If I hadn’t completed the degree I wouldn’t be a futurologist now. I am also pleased I disagreed with the exam board and appealed against their decision. I have fond memories of Sheffield, including Sheffield 1 on a Saturday night, the Leadmill, The Howard pub and following Sheffield United at Bramall Lane.
'I advise all alumni to just enjoy life and make the most of opportunities as lots of people want to help you. I don’t regret anything.'