On April 3, the Board of Directors of the Cree Construction and Development Company (CCDC) announced that Danny Pashagumskum has been appointed as the company’s new president.
“We are extremely happy to welcome Mr. Danny Pash on board the CCDC team,” stated Derrick Neeposh, president of Cree Regional Economic Enterprises Company (CREECO). “He is a great addition to the CREECO family. His extensive experience in leadership positions and in strategic planning will be a strong asset for the company.”
CCDC is the largest of CREECO’s companies and the largest Cree-owned company in Canada. Its steady growth since its creation in 1976 has earned it a good reputation and it is the first Canadian company owned by First Nations to earn and maintain ISO certification from the International Organization for Standardization.
With over 30 years of experience within the private, public, regional and national levels, Pash will take over the lead role from Robert Baribeau, who announced his departure in September. Hailing from Chisasibi, Pash is a proud father of two known for empowering people to produce positive change.
“When I saw the CCDC posting, I knew it was perfect for me,” Pash told the Nation. “I’ve been looking for an opportunity to come back home, to transition back to my roots. I’m sick and tired of living in Ottawa, the two-hour commutes. Now the time is right, and I look forward to the change.”
Pash spent his childhood on Fort George Island where his parents were teachers and “absolutely loved it there.” Moving later to Val-d’Or, he worked as a pilot with Air Creebec, a company he stayed with for nearly 10 years.
When given the opportunity to expand his knowledge and abilities, he transitioned to Air Transat, Canada’s leading holiday travel airline. As a pilot there for 11 years, Pash flew Boeing 757, Airbus 330 and “a little bit of everything.”
“It was a real privilege to have some of the best training in the world, flight simulator training, pilot management,” said Pash. “I obtained a level of knowledge where I could either stay there and become comfortable or continue to expand my knowledge and skillset. I went to NAV Canada – they have a lot of success with taking people out of the operations and putting them into the business world.”
NAV Canada oversees air traffic throughout the country’s civil airspace and North Atlantic through a sophisticated network of control and maintenance centres, flight service stations and navigation aids. Pash began in the company’s finance department then migrated to instrument procedures design, where he started training new recruits.
“As you know, aviation is a heavily regulated industry,” Pash said. “Working with standards and training really honed my business acumen, dealing with stakeholders. You have to know how to navigate the industry well. That set me up to be in a position of standards and regulation.”
Feeling he had hit another level of achievement at NAV Canada, Pash was ready for another career change. With extensive experience in governance, working in a senior role within a large and complex environment, he was excited to present his candidature for the opening at CCDC.
“When an opportunity presents itself, one thing I’ve learned over the last 30 years is it’s best to jump on it,” asserted Pash. “CCDC has a lot of parallels with aviation in terms of security, safety and regulation along with leadership and governance. I thought to myself, this is the perfect fit to apply my knowledge and experience and transition into a parallel field, the construction industry.”
While Pash already has some ideas for growing the company, he’s planning to first sit down with the CCDC team to better familiarize himself with its current operations before defining its next objectives.
“Aviation is the epitome of streamlined operations so perhaps we can look at that at a later time,” explained Pash. “One standard for any Native business is to continue with Native employment so that will be a factor from the start. I will be implementing a vision and strategies that will benefit the company and our Cree communities.”