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Rockwell's Short Stint Heading BC Innovation Council

After just two years, expensive recruit leaves for Pulse Energy, run by BCIC board member.

By Andrew MacLeod 29 Sep 2010 | TheTyee.ca

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

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Dean Rockwell: Had $167,342 in expenses at BCIC first year.

Two years ago the crown corporation British Columbia Innovation Council spent over $100,000 to bring Dean Rockwell from Georgia to be its CEO. He's now leaving for a job with Pulse Energy, a software company co-founded by a BCIC director.

"He'll be our chief operating officer," said Dave Helliwell, who co-founded Pulse with Greg Kerfoot. Kerfoot, the chairman of the Vancouver Whitecaps Football Club, sits on the BCIC board.

Pulse sells software to help companies manage energy use in their buildings.

The BCIC's mission is to develop partnerships between universities and industry to commercialize technology.

Helliwell said he was aware of how the hiring might look with the board connection, and so they were extra careful to be transparent about it with everyone who was involved. "That's the main reason that made us tread extra carefully."

However, Helliwell said, it was his own contact with Rockwell that led to the hiring. Helliwell describes Rockwell as a capable, honest, reliable person who he came to recognize as a "kindred spirit" over the past couple years.

Rockwell's previous experience working for Cisco Systems with different sized companies in the U.S., Canada and Europe will be valuable to Pulse, Helliwell said.

Also, he pointed out that the technology industry in Vancouver is very small. "I would challenge you to find a company that wasn't involved in the council," he said. "It's hard to do anything in Vancouver without having some kind of partnership with somebody who's on the board of another organization."

Helliwell said Rockwell will start working full-time for Pulse on Oct. 18, but will continue to be involved in the BCIC. He said Rockwell's contract required him to stay at BCIC for two years.

The Tyee exchanged voice messages with a BCIC spokesperson seeking comment or an interview with Rockwell, but did not yet connect.

BCIC footed relocation costs

In October, 2009, The Tyee reported that Rockwell's expenses during his first year at BCIC were $167,342.

At the time, BCIC spokesperson Lin Kishore explained the money was "primarily one-time relocation expenses." It included costs to bring Rockwell to B.C. from Atlanta, including moving costs, money to close the sale of his home and transportation, she said.

Two people, Allen Salton and Jason Herbert, were registered to lobby the province on "executive compensation" for the BCIC in 2008, even though the organization is an arm's length body owned by the government, the Tyee also reported. The lobbying was related to Rockwell's appointment.

The BCIC issued a press release last week saying Rockwell is leaving. It quoted Rockwell saying he has enjoyed his time at BCIC and that he looks "forward to working alongside the organization."

The release quoted board chair Greg Aasen saying Rockwell shaped BCIC's strategic direction and that "we are happy that BCIC was able to attract an exceptional CEO such as Dean and are now pleased to see him transition into private industry right here in our province."

A BCIC search committee is seeking a new CEO.  [Tyee]

Read more: Politics, Science + Tech

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