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Finding a pathway to mid‑life career shift: Jason Swinamer

Posted by Suzanne Bowness on May 30, 2022 in Students, Alumni & Friends
In the MIM program, Jason Swinamer levelled up his knowledge management skills to ascend the ranks at ADP (Nick Pearce photo)

Jason Swinamer was a mid-career learner who wanted to take his career to the next level or even find a new path. As an Implementation Consultant for ADP, a global online payroll and HR company, he was looking for a program that would let him keep working while deepening his skill set.  

“I really just wanted to take my career in a different direction, and I felt that because technology is really growing and expanding, studying information management would be a great opportunity that would open a lot of doors. I wouldn't be confined to one topic; I would learn about many different things and be able to apply that to what I'm doing,” he says.

The right information at the right time

Starting the MIM program in May 2019, Jason took one course per term. Two favourites were Program Evaluation and Knowledge Management. “Knowledge Management really resonated with me, because it's applicable to everyday life,” he says. For Swinamer, going deeper on knowledge management also opened a door in his career pathway––in January 2021, he moved into a new role as a Knowledge Management Consultant for ADP.  

His other favourite course, Program Evaluation, was equally transformative. “It changed my perspective on how I think critically, how I solve problems and how I collaborate with people,” recalls Jason. He also appreciated the mentorship of Professor Dr. Kaireen Chaytor, who encouraged him to submit his paper “Inclusion and Diversity in Evaluation Design,” for a Student Excellence advancing Evaluation Knowledge (SEEK) award from the Canadian Evaluation Society. Winning first place, the paper examines the critical role that empathy plays in evaluation practice and outlines strategies for the evaluator to engage in culturally responsive evaluation. “It was really an honour and surprise. It is a great thing to have somebody acknowledge your work like that,” he says.

Whereas his first role at ADP was more client-facing, working with customers to help them through the implementation lifecycle of their systems, his new role is internal, dealing with processes and technology. As a Knowledge Management Consultant, Jason works on managing and auditing content, and working with business partners to understand how they use that content, to simplify the repository and create new content as needed. “We’ll be brought in to work with teams to help them develop the content that the employees can use, that's correct and written clearly so it's very straightforward. We give them the right information at the right time when they need it,” explains Jason.  

For five of his first 10 months in the role, he was the only team member, which would have been daunting had it not been for his new knowledge gained through the MIM program. “I feel that it really helped with my confidence and made me believe that I knew I had the skills and abilities required to do the job even though the resources were not necessarily there,” he says. Now Jason is part of a team of three, although he’s still working remotely, based in Dartmouth.  

Building a lifelong network

Being part of a cohort is also something that Jason found valuable. “What’s great about this program is that you're learning with and about other people's work experiences. Even though we have different job titles, and are in different provinces, we really share similar experiences,” he says. 

While completing most of the program during the pandemic meant that he was only able to meet in person a few times, he still saw the value and says he even developed good relationships despite being mostly online. “I established really great friendships with people that I'm still friends with now, we're still texting each other,” he said, joking that the group created an MS Teams group called “MIM Survivalists” to commemorate the strange times that marked their program. “If you're not doing the program, it's hard for people to understand what you're going through. And these people were all amazing. They would lift you up on the days you were tired and exhausted. I'm so thankful because I know that they are going to be part of my life, probably forever, and I wouldn't have met them if I had not been in this program.”