Spring graduand's competitive edge earns her plum role

Spring graduand's competitive edge earns her plum role

CPIT's spring graduation will see 370 graduands receive their certificates, diplomas and degrees at the annual ceremony to be held at Christchurch's Horncastle Arena on Friday 18 September.

One of them will be well-known former elite athlete Francesca Jackson who will take to the podium not for a medal but for her Bachelor of Applied Management degree.

Spring has brought a new beginning for CPIT graduate Francesca Jackson, who will be awarded her Bachelor of Applied Management degree on Friday 18 September.

A former elite skater, Jackson applied the same work ethic to her studies and quest for work as she did to her impressive short track skating career, which included Olympic qualifier events and world cup-level competition.

Six weeks out from CPIT's spring graduation, the 29 year old scored a career-making job with prestigious consultancy firm Opus, as a project manager.

"I guess I transferred that ambition and focus that I have as a sports person into my course and my work. I wouldn't be me without something to strive for."

Jackson will graduate with a CPIT degree in applied management, majoring in project management, along with operations and production management. She also undertook accounting and financial studies during her three-year programme and is continuing study at CPIT this year with a National Diploma in Quantity Surveying, to increase her knowledge of the construction industry.

image of Francesca Jackson 

Her journey and story is about never giving up. In fact, she has a favourite saying coined by American cartoonist Stephen McCranie: The master has failed more times than a beginner has even tried.

This attitude stood her in good stead for an elite international skating career that took her overseas and continues in the coaching arena with the Canterbury Alpine Ice Speed Skating Club.

"I've learned about perseverance, and doing the course at CPIT reinforced that you have to turn up to class if you want to pass. I also learned about the importance of an academic education. It opens doors to a different level of job."

About half way through her three-year Bachelor of Applied Management, Jackson was working part-time at a gym when she met an employee from well-known engineering consultancy firm, Beca.

While this provided a tentative foot in the door, it took a year to get a job, but through perseverance, she got one as a property manager, working 20 hours a week while continuing to study at CPIT.

"It wasn't easy being thrown into that role but it set me up, and it's something I'd advise any student to do, to work while they're studying in a role as close to what they want to achieve."

She said Beca, and now Opus, were excellent at nurturing graduates.

"You're still learning but they factor that in."

Still new to her role in the Opus project management unit - they call her "the seventh sister" as she was the seventh female to be hired in a row - she is already managing jobs for the Christchurch Catholic Diocese. This includes rebuilds and maintenance at schools.

Her immediate boss at Opus, senior project manager Adrian Matthews, said Jackson was already proving to be an asset to the company.

"Francesca is very good at detail. She doesn't gloss over and she gets on great with clients. Those are important skills in her role in the project management team."