Danny Ross


Master’s degree key to more inspiring career path

October 03, 2018

By Diane Luckow

SFU alumnus Danny Ross is filled with enthusiasm and inspiration as he graduates with a master of resource management (MRM) this month.

That wasn’t the case a few years ago when he was working in a comfortable, mid-management job at a crown corporation, despite the work/life balance the position offered.

“It was a cushy job, but uninspiring,” he says, recalling how much happier he was during an international youth internship project in Mexico, where he worked on community engagement for an urban design project. His project focused on re-imagining and re-designing public spaces, using community voices.

After two years at the crown corporation, Ross began to seriously reconsider his career options. Many informational interviews later, he realized he would need a master’s degree if he wanted to work in the urban planning and design field.

So, at age 28, he quit his job and returned to SFU full-time to pursue a two-year master’s degree in resource and environmental management (MRM), with a concentration in urban planning.

It was a busy time. He juggled a part-time job as a teaching assistant while writing his MRM planning thesis, taking courses, and completing internships with both the District of North Vancouver and the architectural firm IBI Group. He was also president of the Resource and Environmental Planning Students Association.

The risky move and hard work paid off. He convocates this October with a master of resource and environmental management, in planning, and is already working for the SFU Community Trust at UniverCity as a junior development manager.

“The degree program was all worthwhile because it put me in the running to get this job,” he says, noting that his supervisor, Mark Roseland, tapped him for the position. “The program gave me basic planning skills.”

Still, he doesn’t want to be pigeonholed as an urban planner. He’s excited about the possibilities of sustainable development, underpinned by his urban planning knowledge.

“I see myself becoming a development manager and then vice-president for one of the more sustainability-focused development companies in Vancouver,” he says. “I want to develop sustainable housing that has a community focus and meets housing demand in the city I grew up in.”