Interview by Mihaiela Gugiu, PhD, National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians
ICE’s Next Gen Professional Award recognizes a young professional who has created a clear career path in credentialing and is a strong mentor to others within their organization. One of the 2019 recipients was Ashley Bardsley, SeaCrest director of client services. Ashley officially joined the SeaCrest team and the credentialing community in 2015. She supports certifying agencies through project management, accreditation preparation, implementation of quality improvement projects and policy development. Ashley has completed the ICE Credentialing Specialist program and served on the ICE Career Pathways and Emerging Leaders Task Force. She is also a current member of the ICE Education Committee.
ICE Publications and Editorial Committee member Mihaiela Gugiu, PhD, recently spoke with Bardsley on her career path, involvement with the credentialing industry and some of her most rewarding moments so far.
Can you tell us about your background and career path?
My degree is in textile and apparel management from North Carolina State University, and I worked in the textile industry for a few years before transitioning to distribution logistics and customer service. From there I moved into the credentialing field and began working with SeaCrest. Although I was new to credentialing, I believe that my previous experiences — project management, operations, quality improvement and customer service — have a place in the credentialing world.
In my current role, I have the opportunity to work with a lot of different organizations of various structures and sizes, organizations with different opportunities and challenges. I find that my previous experiences were very valuable in supporting the credentialing work that I do now.
How did you get started in credentialing?
I am certainly in the category of people who “fell into” credentialing. I have been working with SeaCrest for several years now and have grown in the different opportunities and types of work that I have been engaged in during this time. Being in a role that evolves and expands and allows the opportunity to learn and grow, plus work with different clients and new projects is motivating.
Outside your day-to-day work, you are an active member of ICE and the credentialing community. What inspires you to contribute to the profession in such a way?
My first volunteering opportunity with ICE was serving on the Emerging Leaders & Career Pathways Task Force for two years. I worked with a great team of people who are experienced and knowledgeable, and I believe that the deliverables the task force created will provide ongoing value to the field. In 2020, I joined the ICE Education Committee, and I look forward to becoming more involved with it and contributing to the field in new ways.
Regarding what inspires me to contribute to the credentialing field via volunteering, I believe that serving on a committee, or in another volunteering capacity, is important for all of us in the credentialing space to do. Volunteering enables us to contribute to the diversity of views, experiences and perspectives within the credentialing field. My employer, SeaCrest, values volunteering and encourages team members to contribute our experiences and perspective in this way. This support gives me additional motivation to seek out professional volunteering opportunities and contribute my views and experiences.
What has been one of the most rewarding moments in your career thus far — either job-related or tied to your volunteer roles?
As part of my role at SeaCrest, I work with clients to evaluate their programs, offer recommendations and strategies for improvements, and, for many, work toward the goal of earning third party accreditation. It is rewarding to work with them throughout the process, to see the evolution and growth in their program, and for those whose goal is to achieve accreditation, to celebrate reaching that goal. It is really being part of that journey of reaching the milestones and of seeing the growth and progress that is very rewarding.
On the volunteering side, since the Emerging Leaders & Career Pathways Task Force was my first committee experience with ICE, I was not sure what to expect. Working with the task force members to complete the goals of the group and develop tools that will be useful for organizations in the credentialing community and for ICE internally, as we set out to do, was a fulfilling accomplishment.
What is one challenge you think the credentialing industry will need to tackle in the next five to 10 years?
I think that all industries are challenged with evolving to meet the needs and demands of stakeholders, and the credentialing industry is certainly no different; for example, the legislative issues the Professional Certification Coalition (PCC) works through, test administration issues (such as remote proctoring), etc. Being flexible and adaptive and, although difficult to do, being proactive rather than reactive is important.
What is your advice for the next generation of professionals, much like yourself, joining the industry?
I believe that many of us in the credentialing space came to the profession not very early on in our careers and sometimes by chance. I think it is important for us to channel the previous experiences we bring to the credentialing world and to take advantage of the educational opportunities available to us. A variety of organizations offer different educational opportunities that can really help someone new to the field. When I entered the credentialing space, I completed the ICE Credentialing Specialist Certificate Program, I read a lot of articles and white papers, I participated in webinars, and I was really fortunate to be supported by an expert team at SeaCrest. Furthermore, I continue to invest in my education and participate in one educational activity at least quarterly throughout the year.
Finally, I would recommend that everyone new to the credentialing world attend meetings and conferences, when possible, like the ICE Exchange and other industry conferences and professional meetings. These offer great educational and networking opportunities with members of the credentialing industry where, in addition to learning and growing your knowledge, you meet other credentialing members and expand your professional relationships.