James Ashton

Advisory Board

Jim Ashton attended the University of Iowa, and graduated Valedictorian, and a letterman in cross country.  Jim subsequently attended M.I.T., in Materials & Mechanics, and earned his Masters and Ph.D. in just 2 ½ years.  After M.I.T., Jim joined General Dynamics, doing R&D in composite materials.  This R&D resulted in publishing 3 books and 34 technical papers.  The next step in Jim’s career took him to his MBA from the Harvard Business School, a Baker Scholar.  After HBS, he rejoined General Dynamics, and led engineering departments designing parts of the Space Shuttle, first Cruise Missiles, and other defense weapons.  As the F-16 aircraft was initiated, Jim became V.P. of Operations, and led the Operations team of 9,000 people up through the first 250 aircraft.  From there, the company moved him to V.P. of Engineering in the Nuclear Submarine program, including the Trident design.  Continuing with public companies, Jim accomplished two significant turnarounds, taking a $160mm division of Schlumberger from ($15mm) EBIT to $12mm EBIT in 3 years, and a $350mm defense division of FMC from ($15mm) EBIT to $37mm EBIT in four years.  At that point in his career, Jim decided he wanted “a piece of the action”, which led to his 25 years in governance and executive management of firms owned by private equity firms.  He has served as Chairman (16 companies), CEO (4 companies), and Board member (27 companies), often with spectacular IRR results at exit, including 3 exits with cash on cash returns of more than 10X.  The private companies have covered a wide range of industrial concerns: Composites and other Materials; Discreet Manufacturing; Information Technology; Automotive suppliers; Oil & Gas equipment; Large capital equipment; Defense Products.

In addition to Jim’s governance and executive positions in privately held companies, he has conducted a (part time) consulting business for over twenty years and is a widely published Management theorist including 2 Harvard Business Review articles and multiple seminars and other management articles.  Jim is also an avid Rugby player and has been involved with the sport for over 50 years.

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