PMI award winner values a new way of seeing the world

James Ashdown (Project Management 2017), Student of The Year award recipient

James Ashdown, a professional engineer by trade, enrolled in Red River College’s Project Management program thinking he would enhance his skills on a professional level. What he found was an altogether new way of thinking.

“Now I see projects everywhere,” said Ashdown, when asked how best to describe what he learned through the program. “I think as professionals we tend to see ourselves as people who can get things done. But when you really break things down through a project management lens you start to see the inefficiencies that exist.”

As for what Ashdown liked most about the program, he didn’t hesitate in saying it was the knowledge of the instructors and the real-life examples they brought to the table.

“I learned so much just hearing about their experiences — their successes and their failures,” he said. “Education can so often turn into nothing but note taking and exams, but I really enjoyed coming to class and participating in discussions that challenged a lot of assumptions I never realized I even had.”

The passion and skill Ashdown has developed for the discipline of project management translated to great success in the program itself — and in Ashdown being named this year’s Project Management Institute 2018 Scholarship Winner.

As excited as Ashdown is to have achieved such a high standing in the program, he’s even more excited to be able to translate what he’s learned into greater productivity for his employer, New Flyer Industries.

“I was very fortunate to have New Flyer sponsor my enrolment at RRC because they recognize the value of the skill sets being taught more than anyone,” said Ashdown. “Since starting the program, I’ve moved into a challenging and fast-paced position within New Flyer’s Service department.  I manage multiple bus field retrofits, help design repairs and run warranty investigations, with each of these like its own project with associated planning, communication, costing and risk analysis considerations.”

As for how Ashdown feels what he’s learned will help him down the road, he’s pretty confident that his involvement with PMI will open doors to many new opportunities.

“I knew that increasing my project management abilities would help unlock my career potential, and I believe it’s improved my ability to assume new responsibilities, help meet company objectives and grow within my organization,” said Ashdown. “In fact, I’m now pursuing my project management designation and just started the PMP exam prep course back at RRC to develop my skills even further.”

In addition to helping his career, Ashdown is quick to point out that project management skills aren’t only applicable in the workplace. They also play an important role on a personal level.

“It doesn’t matter whether you’re renovating your house, building a guest cottage or even planning a social, they’re all projects — whether you realize it or not,” he said. “Since completing the program, this has become even more evident to me and I’m continuously surprised at how I end up applying the methods I learned in class in my everyday life.”

Learn more about the Project Management and Project Leadership programs.