Ashraf Naim, Project Manager in St. Catharines, ON, Canada
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Ashraf Naim

Verified Expert  in Project Management

Project Manager

St. Catharines, ON, Canada
Toptal Member Since
September 18, 2022

Ashraf is a Certified Scrum Master, Kanban lead, and Agile project manager who has worked with multinational organizations like Thales, Sun Life Financial, CIBC, Oracle, and Alliance Data. He excels at foreseeing trends, pinpointing difficulties, providing practical solutions in demanding circumstances, and coaching and mentoring groups to improve system design in fast-paced environments. Ashraf is also a certified PMI and SAFe educator who helped develop three Agile centers of excellence.

Project Highlights

Applications Rebranding
Rebranded the UI/UX for more than 30 applications in record time.
Agile Methodology Implementation
Fast-tracked more than 200 engineers in the Agile methodology.
Agile Center of Excellence for CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank
Enabled the creation of an Agile Center of Excellence for CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank, a subsidiary of CIBC, encouraging both companies to develop a continuous improvement culture.


Work Experience

Senior Agile Transformation Coach | Scrum Master

2021 - PRESENT
Sun Life Financial Canada
  • Helped develop an SAP Center of Excellence using a general ledger account and SAP Business Warehouse, dividing the organization into pods of long-standing teams.
  • Built a strategy for SAP staffing to avoid the unpredictability caused by a high SAP staff turnover.
  • Collaborated in the development of OKRs for the corporate application services team, identifying critical strategic objectives and associated outcomes for the digital enterprise.
  • Created a strategy for scaling skills and deploying digital capabilities, helping teams adapt to changing business needs.

Senior Agile Coach | Delivery Manager | Scrum Master

2017 - 2021
CIBC - Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce
  • Received the CIBC Individual Achiever Award for the second quarter of 2020 and the CIBC Team Achiever Award for the third and fourth quarters of 2018, the second and third quarters of 2019, and the first and second quarters of 2020.
  • Encouraged CIBC and CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank to develop a continuous improvement culture, enhancing the capabilities of agile coaches and scrum masters.
  • Developed several courses and workshops for CIBC's Agile Center of Excellence, including topics like user story writing, Kanban fundamentals, role mapping, and the skills matrix.
  • Certified over 150 people on various SAFe and PMI courses.
  • Collaborated with HR to empower product owners to push back, filter, select, and remain in control of their projects.

Agile Coach

2016 - 2017
  • Prepared and delivered several Scrum and Kanban courses to more than 175 engineers, including Kanban managers, Scrum Masters, and product owners.
  • Conducted numerous workshops on developing a skills matrix, the definition of done (DoD), the definition of ready (DoR), and story writing.
  • Built and organized more than 20 Scrum teams from scratch.
  • Supervised the implementation of Atlassian technologies for enterprise-wide workflow management and issue resolution.
  • Raised awareness of the Agile methodology by training functional managers, project managers, configuration management staff, security employees, independent validation and verification staff, business analysts, and domain experts.
  • Introduced innovative retrospective sessions that helped Scrum teams improve their velocity by 25% and focused on delivering business value rapidly without sacrificing quality or customer satisfaction.
  • Collaborated with the Agile Center of Excellence to standardize procedures across the enterprise, develop best practices, and establish governing rules for processes and systems.

Associate Director of Infrastructure Planning | Scrum Master | Kanban Lead

2012 - 2015
  • Joined the team as a database manager and, within six months, was promoted to associate director of infrastructure planning after successfully building the disaster recovery site in record time.
  • Set up agile processes and held workshops encouraging members of the infrastructure and development teams to adopt agile practices. This resulted in the implementation of both the Kanban and Scrum frameworks.
  • Introduced Delphix, a DaaS tool, in record time using Scrum, eliminating the need for database development environments, freeing hardware, and expediting the software development lifecycle and ERP implementation.

Technical Lead (Projects)| Senior Database & SAP Basis Administrator

2010 - 2012
Americold Logistics
  • Decreased the refresh time on the SAP application by 95% from two days to four hours by redesigning and deploying the SAP backup (Brtool) and adjusting the homogeneous SAP copy.
  • Performed Failure Mode Effect Analysis (FMEA) across the system to alleviate multiple underperformance issues affecting the company’s ability to remain competitive.
  • Successfully introduced the concept of story mapping, which helped Americold by bringing all the stakeholders on the same page regarding scope and complexity, building a shared understanding.
  • Introduced the Kaizen spirit through extensive retrospective sessions. This improved processes, practices, and tools.

Project Manager | Manager Database and SAP Basis

2004 - 2010
  • Performed Failure Mode Effect Analysis (FMEA) across the system to alleviate multiple underperformance issues affecting the company’s ability to remain competitive.
  • Delivered a positive ROI in six months. Was handpicked by the CIO to resurrect a highly visible SAP project experiencing multiple management issues. Returned the project to the original scope without additional resources within budget.
  • Implemented Xosoft in record time for high availability and disaster recovery at different plants in North America and Europe.
  • Pinpointed weak points in hardware, software, and processes, working with multiple internal and external stakeholders to eliminate inefficiencies, streamlining the IT organization to swiftly reduce downtime and lower IT costs by $500,000.

Applications Rebranding

Rebranded the UI/UX for more than 30 applications in record time.

I oversaw approximately 30 developers, testers, and UI/UX analysts across three internal application teams, managing and coordinating updates to off-the-shelf software products with six distinct vendors simultaneously. The project was conducted efficiently and quickly by collaborating closely with the different business stakeholders and skillfully pairing UI/UX designers, programmers, visual designers, information architects, business analysts, content writers, and product managers.

Agile Methodology Implementation

Fast-tracked more than 200 engineers in the Agile methodology.

I efficiently trained over 200 engineers in agile practices like Scrum and Kanban, accelerating enterprise agility and leveraging Agile to reimagine customer journeys, product excellence, and innovation.

I introduced the "doing Agile" and "being Agile" concepts. This transformation renewed the overall customer commitment, increased business social networking, and took advantage of the information explosion by using new data analytics. All this helped in making quicker and more efficient decisions.

Agile Center of Excellence for CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank

Enabled the creation of an Agile Center of Excellence for CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank, a subsidiary of CIBC, encouraging both companies to develop a continuous improvement culture.

I trained Agile coaches, Scrum Masters, and product owners to improve their effectiveness and capabilities. I collaborated with managers and team members to create a backlog of KPI improvements to work on over a 12-week program, sharing best practices and insights across the division during this process. Additionally, I introduced the lean and flow principles, the primary metrics to measure improvement.

Some key areas I measured and reported on:
• Work in progress
• Throughput
• Sprint progress
• Impact of user story acceptance
• Effect of adding work into the sprint
• Defect leak
• Capacity utilization
• Estimation variance
• Backlog health
• Commitment reliability

SAP Operating System and Database Migration

Revived a high-profile SAP operating system and database migration project upon the CIO's request.

The CIO selected me to revive a high-profile SAP operating system and database migration project experiencing multiple management challenges. I returned the project to its initial scope in six months with no additional resources or budget increase.

I reduced the project's scope and broke it into multiple independent phases, realigning resource involvement and responsibilities to strengthen decision-making and ease the project's complexity. With the CIO's approval, I also delegated the authority to make decisions to directors rather than VPs.

CRM Migration

Cleaned and migrated data from Siebel CRM to Microsoft Dynamics.

I executed this data migration project on time and within budget, managing a team of ten internal Canadian testers and ten developers from a vendor in the Philippines.

The project required close collaboration between the business team and IT. I encouraged this partnership by implementing Scrum, a framework they continued using for continuous improvement and future releases.

Disaster Recovery Site

Built a disaster recovery site in record time and was promoted to associate director.

I was parachuted into the project by the VP when only two months were left to deliver the disaster recovery site per audit requirements. I managed to build a cross-functional team using the Agile methodology, completing the site in two months with two-week sprints.

During this process, I deployed more than 85 applications and tested disaster recovery failover by trimming the tail and using aggressive application prioritization. The project was completed on time while meeting all SOX and internal and external audit requirements.

Client Profitability Index

Moved away from the waterfall methodology and successfully implemented Scrum in a data warehouse application project.

This project involved building a long-standing and cross-functional team to create a data warehouse application built on Netezza, Informatica, and IBM Cognos. Due to the nature of the project, Scrum was adopted, allowing releases to happen every month in an effective and planned manner.

SAP Security Project

Implemented SAP security with the help of consultants in a record time.

I initiated, planned, and implemented relevant projects and provided high-level support, including problem determination for all SAP security needs within the development, QA, and production phases. I also supervised the design and implementation of new authorization concepts along with business departments and IT stakeholders. Furthermore, I oversaw the SAP user administration on approved procedures, the integration of SoD conformity processes, and authorization validation to meet SOX requirements. Our team obtained clear and concise requirements from the senior management and user community and met all task deadlines assigned.

SAP Upgrade from 4.6C to ECC6

Supervised and managed the project of moving the SAP from 4.6 to ECC6 after migrating the operating system and database.

Along with two SAP consultants, ten developers, and 15 testers, I upgraded SAP from 4.6c to ECC6. This involved number of SAP modules such as FICO, SD, and MM. We first migrated from Windows and SQL Server to Sun Solaris and Oracle, and later, using R3COPY, we upgraded the SAP environment as per SAP recommendation. Some updates were also needed for the SAP kernel, like brconnect and database.

High Availability Implementation

Created a couple of PoCs on off-the-shelf software and selected XOsoft.

I prepared the whole project plan and, with the help of DBAs, implemented the CA XOsoft scenario, which replicated data on a NAS device. We have implemented both real-time replication and scheduled replication in 40 plants across North America and Europe.

Data Archiving

Streamlined the process to avoid huge storage requirements.

I designed and implemented data archiving processes in many organizations. The primary purpose was to meet NFR and speed up the response time. I supervised four DBAs to script the archiving process for SQL Server and Oracle database.

Joy 1.0 to Joy 2.0 at Fortune 50 CPG Company Migration

Helped create a migration roadmap with milestones.

I did the following for this project:

• Assisted with coach sync sessions.
• Collaborated with the marketing, platform, Joy Mobile, and 3rd-party teams in a coordinated effort to create a backup plan and cutover runbook.
• Prepared reports for senior managers (DTC).
• Identified risks and mitigation strategies.
• Obtained written approval for the migration plan that key stakeholders developed.
• Assisted with the Dry Run's execution.
• Moved from Excel to ADO for better tracking, converting the project from red to green.
• Stepped up and understood my key responsibilities in a short period of time while working on the project.
1986 - 1988

Master’s Degree in Business Administration (MBA)

Aligarh Muslim University - Aligarh, India

1983 - 1985

Master's Degree in Economics

University of Poona - Pune, India


Professional Kanban Level I (PK I)


Disciplined Agile Senior Scrum Master (DASSM)

Project Management Institute (PMI)


SAFe 6 Practice Consultants (SPC)

Scaled Agile Framework


ICAgile Certified Professional Agile Team Facilitation (ICP-ATF)



ICAgile Certified Professional Agile Coaching (ICP-ACC)



Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO)

Scrum Alliance


Certified ScrumMaster (CSM)

Scrum Alliance


Project Management Professional (PMP)

Project Management Institute (PMI)


Jira, SQL, Confluence, Slack, Oracle Forms, Oracle Reports, Trello, Siebel CRM, Informatica ETL, IBM Cognos, Microsoft Dynamics, Oracle Designer, SAS, Asana, Project Management & Work Tracking Tools


Agile Product Management, Kanban, Agile Leadership, Agile Workflow, Lean, Agile, Agile Project Management, Management, Scrum, Implementation Project Management, PMBOK, Agile Delivery, Change Management, Organizational Change Management (OCM), Requirements Analysis, Design Thinking, DevOps, Behavior-driven Development (BDD), Business Continuity Planning (BCP), Data Science

Industry Expertise

Logistics, Education Technology (Edtech), Automotive, Banking & Finance, Higher Education, Healthcare, Travel & Leisure, Architecture, Insurance


Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Oracle, Oracle Database


Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe), SAFe 4 Advanced Scrum Master, IT Project Management, Scrum Master, Coaching, Mentorship, Project Management, Project Management Professional (PMP), Databases, Agile Coaching, Scrum Coaching, Workshop Facilitation, Team Mentoring, Team Leadership, Remote Team Leadership, Leadership & Coaching, Mentorship & Coaching, Certified Trainer, Roadmaps, Scrum Product Owner Contractor, Scrum Product Owner, Failure Mode Effects Analysis (FMEA), Agile Product Delivery, Team Management, Project Scheduling, Project Reporting, Project Planning, Project Timelines, Cross-departmental Collaboration, Program Management, Agile Practices, Consulting, Agile Transformation, Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), Training, Operations, Scope of Work, Risk Assessment, Request for Proposal (RFP), Process Improvement Project Management, IT Projects, Minimum Viable Product (MVP), Hybrid Project Management, Customer Success, Agile Sprints, Facilitation, Project Management Infrastructure, Infrastructure, Product Planning, Reporting, Planning, Sprint Planning, New Product Rollout, Strategy, Technical Delivery Management, Optimization, IT Operations Management (ITOM), Enterprise, Enterprise Software, Training & Training Content Development, Product Management, Risk Management, Backlog Management, User Stories, Documentation, Creative Problem Solving, Feature Backlog Prioritization, Project Tracking, Process Optimization, PI Planning, Dashboards, Software Project Management, Organizational Leadership, Standard Operating Procedures Development, Process Control, Waterfall Methodology, Stakeholder Engagement, Digital Project Management, COE, Project Rescue, Project Coordination, Certified ScrumMaster (CSM), Process Documentation, Delivery, Estimation & Planning, Digital Transformation, Tracking, Information Technology, Econometrics, Value Stream Mapping, Product Owner, Value Proposition, User Journey Maps, Agile CRM, Data Warehousing, IT Infrastructure, Lean Canvas, Business Model Canvas, Process Flows, Business Continuity, High Availability Disaster Recovery (HADR), Business Continuity & Disaster Recovery (BCDR), PL/SQL, Process Improvement, Stakeholder Management, Organizational Behavior (OB), GAP Analysis, Product Ownership, Product Strategy, Websites, Communication, Technical Project Management, Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC), Agile Program Management, Discovery Workshops, Business Transformation Project Management, System Migration, System Implementation, Software Implementation, Discovery, Data Management, Best Practices, Budgeting, Data Migration, Migration, Core Banking Systems, Strategyzer, Technical Documentation, Enterprise SaaS, Learning Management Systems (LMS), Project Management Office (PMO), PMO Development, Google Workspace, Stripe, Software as a Service (SaaS), Disaster Recovery Consulting, Marketing, Finance, Big Data, Scrumban, SAP Basis, Loyalty Programs, Enterprise Loyalty Programs, Netezza, Product Roadmaps, Cross-functional Team Leadership, SAP ERP, Agile DevOps, Prosci ADKAR, Business, Projects, Workflow, Branding, Project Design, Large-scale Projects, Large-scale Systems, Data Architecture, High-performance Design, High-load, Proof of Concept (POC), Agile Certified Practitioner, Scope Management, CRM Design, Legacy Software, Web Platforms, Web Applications, Project Delivery, Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Cloud

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