BCIT president Don Wright reflects on his career, his five years at BCIT, and what’s next
Just two days after he announced his official resignation from his nearly five-year term as president of BCIT, The Link was able to sit down and talk to Don Wright about his career leading up to where is he is now and where he’s going from here.
As he leaned back in his chair to reflect on his time at BCIT, Wright emphasized how fortunate he feels.
“I really do mean it when I say it has been a magical five years,” he said.
He went on to discuss the diverse portfolio he developed before coming to BCIT. “If you look at my career, the one thing that you’ll see from it is that your career just takes you where it will take you.”
Wright listed the variety of experiences that led to his role as president, including academia, government service, the private sector, consulting, and finally BCIT. He revealed that it’s important not to pass up opportunities.
“You never say never in terms of what might happen, interesting opportunities come along and I just have been very lucky.”
DEPARTING FOR NDP
Wright’s resignation is a result of his decision to accept the position of deputy minister of the BC NDP if the party is elected in the May 2013 election.
“I first started conversations with [the current BC NDP leader] [pullquote]“You never say never in terms of what might happen, interesting opportunities come along and I just have been very lucky.”[/pullquote] Adrian Dix late last year and then it crystallized really with a dinner we had just before Christmas.”
Wright confessed that much deliberation went along with the decision to accept the position with the NDP and to step down from his post at BCIT.
“I’m going to be without a paycheque than two months and you don’t do that lightly,” said Wright with a chuckle.
He went on to explain that he couldn’t take on the potential role with BC NDP if he didn’t spend the better part of the next three months preparing, nor would it be in the best interests of BCIT to keep him as president during this time.
“I couldn’t do that with integrity if I continued to be president of BCIT,” said Wright. “BCIT would not be getting the appropriate value out of me and I think people after the fact might say ‘you know there was a bit of a conflict between where he was going and where he was.’”
He felt a “clean break” was the right thing to do.
MAKING THE CALL
“I spent a good part of the Christmas holidays reflecting over it, talking it over with my family and then came to the conclusion,” said Wright who sat down with Tony Gugliotta, chair of the board of governors, in January to discuss how to handle his decision.
It was officially announced to the board at a meeting on February 12, a day before Wright made the official public announcement of his.
Wright said in a phone call prior to our interview that the next few weeks will be like that: busy with transition. Incoming acting president Chris Golding, who is the current vice president of institute planning, learning and technology services, originally intended to retire next month.
“One of the things you realize when you are at the executive level is that you carry a lot of stuff around in your head,” said Wright. “Very little of what you do is actually down on paper and so it’s real important for me to spend a lot of time with Chris.”
Wright happily explained that the board, Golding, his colleagues, and family are all supportive of his decision and optimistic about the road ahead for him.
“I am truly excited … but I’m anxious because it’s a huge job,” said Wright who added that getting his mind around every new detail about his job — and quickly — seems overwhelming.
Some of his new tasks will include weighing in on how the government will be structured, the policy platform the BC NDP will pursue, [pullquote]“I really do mean it when I say it has been a magical five years.”[/pullquote]and how that will be translated into short-term and medium-term plans and personnel decisions. “You just have to remind yourself that you take it one step at a time.”
Wright was hesitant to answer any questions about the incoming president of BCIT, whoever that might be, but he guesses it will take about six months to find a new president and that by September 1 the position might be filled.
Wright thought hard before describing characteristics he personally believes a new president should have, emphasizing that this was his own personal opinion.
“Integrity has to be first and foremost,” said Wright, “and the person I think needs to have the same commitment that I have that the students are what this organization is about.”
During the half-hour interview with Wright, it was clear that he was sad to be leaving BCIT but also very optimistic about his future — keeping in mind that if the BC NDP is not elected in May, he will be looking for a job.
Wright plans to step down from his position effective February 27, at which time he’ll be working on a volunteer basis to prepare for his potential role with the BC NDP.[hr]
Neetu was born and raised in the Okanagan Valley (minus the few toddler years she spent living in Punjab, India where her line of heritage is from). She moved to the lower mainland to attend BCIT and is now in her graduating year of the Broadcast and Online Journalism Program. Her writing and editing for Link magazine often happens late at night because when she’s not at school she works as a reporter and anchor for CKNW Newstalk 980 and is also involved in the start up of a charity called the Beautiful World Foundation. She loves to travel and feels fortunate to be in a field where she can share the stories of interesting and inspiring people from around the world.