Professional Profiles

SFU grad focuses on making Vancouver even more vibrant

Tim Furness, a graduate of our Diploma in Applied Project Management.
September 23, 2013
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By Amy Robertson

Tim Furness loves entertainment, and always has. Through high school, he was involved in community theatre, and this led him—naturally, he thought—to study film in university. But he found something was missing, and he left after a year to find out what.

A 15-country world tour gave him the answer: the people.

A site management position at Chicago’s Museum of Modern Ice in 2007 helped him discover something that would let him combine his passion for entertainment and people: community event production. Helping produce an art show called Paintings Below Zero let him create something while engaging with the community in a way he never could as a tourist. Tourists observe. As an event producer, he could contribute to something and be part of people’s lives.

Internship leads to career

In 2008, Furness decided to pursue his event production career in Vancouver, closer to his home on the Sunshine Coast. He began with an internship with the city’s Public Dreams Society, during which he was paired with a production manager.

He later began to work on his own, and business took off. Within a few years, he landed a coveted site management spot at Vancouver’s Olympic Games.

He loved the people he worked with and the flexibility his work offered.

“I never feel like I’m working, even though I always am in some regard,” he says.

After the Games, he was ready to take the next step, but he found his options limited without some kind of professional credential. Two colleagues recommended SFU Continuing Studies' Diploma in Applied Project Management. Deciding the program was exactly what he needed to refine his skills—and his resumé—he completed the program at SFU’s Surrey campus in the spring of 2013.

SFU opens the door to more

“It ended up being a very valuable resource for me,” he says.

As a freelancer who was working as he studied, he was able to take what he was learning about things like communication management, team building, and procurement practices and apply it immediately. He’s confident the program will help open professional doors in the future.

“This is the direction I want to go, and now I can go there without having to worry that a roadblock will come up,” he says.

Within days of graduating from the program, Furness left for Long Beach, California, to work behind the scenes at the original TED conference—and his credits have stacked up.

Grad connects with community

Today, Furness is working regularly on events affiliated with the City of Surrey.

“I think with the general direction that Surrey is going—there’s a great mayor—there’s a whole rebranding of that city right now, and it’s exciting to be a small part of that.”

He’s also been invited to work on other exciting projects, including the 10th annual Cheaper Show, a one-night art event in Vancouver.

“While working in Vancouver, I’ve been able to connect with—in a meaningful way—artists, dancers, festival goers and musicians. I’m able to connect with many different communities that I may normally not have a lot of exposure to,” he says.

“The number of different hats I get to wear in any given year…I’m always learning. I just hope to be a part of different projects and continue to challenge myself—gaining exposure to different cultures and growing from that process. That’s kind of what it’s all about, right?”