Interview by Derek Grosso
Name: Ashley Burns
Profession: Project Manager at The Boeing Company
Neighborhood: New Albany
Education: Bachelor of Science from WVU Tech, Master’s Degree of Business from Ohio Christian University, Master of Aerospace Maintenance Management from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
Community Involvement: Masonic Eastern Star Chapter #287, Daughters of the American Revolution, Save A Warrior, PGA Hope, WeDefy- Athlete, Team Red, White, Blue, Mission Continues, Bunker Labs, National Veterans Memorial and Museum, Women Leaders in Aerospace, Leading Ladies of Defense, National Guard Association of the United States (NGAUS), Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), Electric Power Professionals
Quote: “I would rather have a body full of scars and a head full of memories, than a head full of regrets and perfect skin. “- Atticus
Give us a snapshot of your career path:
I enlisted into the United States Army in 2012 while attending college at WVU Tech.
While in university, I played soccer, joined the ROTC program, and held leadership positions in my sorority, Alpha Sigma Tau. Upon graduation, I commissioned into the Army National Guard as a Field Artillery Officer in 2016. Outside of my military career, I moved to Columbus to work in the legal department of American Electric Power. After a year of that, I then moved into the construction project management space working on transmission substation and line build projects.
After spending 6 years in the electric utility industry, I moved into defense aerospace where I now hold the position of project manager for The Boeing Company as well as the Military Veterans Employee Resource Group Chair.
What gets you up in the morning? And what gets you through the workweek?
I live in general state of high motivation and gratitude. Point blank, I get myself in the morning because I am the only one accountable and responsible for me and my success. I am unapologetically committed to our nation’s warfighters. I owe them (USA warfighters) nothing less than my personal best. That is what gets me through the work week.
What advice or mentors have helped guide you along the way?
My parents have been the best mentors I could have wished for. Their lessons is leadership, patience, and personal growth have aided my career projection immensely both in the military and civilian sector. Along the way, I have always identified mentors in every position I have held. Names such as Scott Smith at American Electric Power, Lieutenant General Mike Ferriter at the National Veterans Memorial and Museum, Major Ellis of the United States Army, Gretchen Dildine at The Boeing Company, and so many others have all allowed me to learn from their life experiences.
What do you do or where do you go to unwind?
I spend most of my free time at Brazilian Jiu Jitsu classes (the best of hugs after a bad day-ha). I also find peace in activities such as meditation, reflection, scuba diving, yoga, reading and general mindfulness.
What are a few of your favorite local spots in Columbus?
I love going to COSI and the Columbus Zoo. Even as an adult, I am constantly reminded that my inner child always needs tending to. I also frequently attend symphony performances and other local art shows. I spend the most time at the National Veterans Memorial and Museum as a volunteer and student of the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu program they have in house.
When you were a kid, what did you say you wanted to be when you grew up?
When I was a kid, I think I fumbled between being in the military and a fire fighter multiple times. My parents were always supportive of my dreams and career aspirations throughout my youth which allowed me to thrive when it was my opportunity “go for it”.
What books or podcasts are you reading/listening to right now?
Currently I am reading The Art of Clear Thinking (A Stealth Fighter Pilot’s Timeless Rules for Making Tough Decisions)- Hasard Lee My favorite books, however, are:
“The Body Keeps The Score” by Bessel Van Der Kolk, M.D., “Atlas of The Heart” by Brene Brown, “What it is Like to Go to War” by Karl Marlantes, and “Accessory to War ( The unspoken Alliance Between Astrophysics and the Military)” by Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Avis Lang
The Podcasts I stay up to date with are: “Jocko Podcast” by Jocko, “The Returning Warrior” by Adam Gornall, and “The Shawn Ryan Show” by Shawn Ryan
What does it mean to you to be chosen for the Next Up Columbus award?
I feel honored having come from a small town in West Virginia to have such an impact on a city such as Columbus. I have lived here for 8 years now and feel as though Columbus is home.
If someone were to ask you what the “pulse” of Columbus is, what would you tell them?
The “pulse” to me is the family owned stores and restaurants all around the city. It has become more of a game of “what is new that I have not tried”.
The Next Up Columbus Awards highlight emerging leaders who are connectors and ambassadors in central Ohio and who are making a positive impact on the future of Columbus. The Columbus Young Professionals Club would like to offer special thanks to our 2023 co-presenters, Discover Financial, Ohio Dominican University and Quantum Health for their support of this year’s awards program. Meet the entire “Class of 2023” »