A strong community can promote new ideas and ensure accountability. It can also act as motivation, support, and even provide a little friendly competition. The power of community is undeniable and the Okanagan tech community is no exception.
Our community is strong and growing with record speed and maintaining a connection through a period of growth like this can be a challenge. Nobody panic, we’ve got a plan.
We are #OKGNtech is a showcase of Okanagan tech entrepreneurs, partners, supporters, and cheerleaders designed to fuel more connection, more growth, and more excitement. Follow along on the blog and on Instagram @OKGNtech to learn more about our growing community and what makes them awesome.
Meet Doug. Doug Gilchrist is the Chief Administrative Officer for the City of Kelowna. When he’s not strengthening the partnership between the City of Kelowna and the tech community, you’ll find Doug skiing, boating, hiking, or coaching his son’s lacrosse team.
Where do you work in the Okanagan?
For the last 4 years, I’ve been the Chief Administrative Officer for the City of Kelowna but I’ve held various positions within the city since I started in 2003. In this state of maturity, I can’t think of a better place to advance a city like Kelowna. We’re in a growth scenario now which makes it an exciting time for the city—development happening everywhere as we’re emerging new sectors like tech, aerospace and healthcare industries.
What advice would you give to someone interested in a job like yours?
Public service is a noble profession that gives you a lot of opportunities to leave something behind. The work that we accomplish gives me a lot of pride. You can make a difference in any level of government but I find that local government where you’re building, developing or managing a city, has the most immediate impact. At the end of your career, you can drive through the city and see all the projects you’ve been a part of.
How did you get involved in the tech community?
The connection between the City of Kelowna and the tech community was an area where I felt that we were a bit detached and wanted to bridge that gap. A lot of bits and pieces came together at the same time—aerospace taking off, the healthcare sector expanding, the tech sector growing, and our organization recognizing what can be delivered through technology. That’s what I’m trying to do and, hopefully, someone will take my spot and continue to foster and develop the link between government and tech.
What do you enjoy about the OKGNtech community?
The community here is broad-reaching. It’s not just about animation or gaming, it’s real people creating applications for social programs and charities, or look at Pela manufacturing sustainable tech products, and so many more examples. The depth and breadth of our tech community make it a good place for entrepreneurs to grow their business compared to other industry-focused communities. As we continue to have successful company exits, it helps keep that momentum going. It’s a helpful community too, entrepreneurs are supportive, not ultra-competitive or stealing resources from each other. They want to see one another be successful.
Are there ways you like to give back to the community?
I love getting people together. When someone has an idea and the other has funding or the wherewithal to deliver that idea, I like to connect those individuals. The work I do with the city is around building the community, and a focus I’ve enjoyed advancing is affordable and supportive housing. There’s much more work to be done, but it’s been rewarding to see the wins we’ve had.
Is there a piece of advice that you often share?
Be bold and think about the future differently. Whether it’s climate response, social issues, tech or innovation, you need that confidence to think and do bold things. You will get reeled back into what’s feasible by the influences around you but, to take that next step, you need to be active. We have a community of entrepreneurs who collectively think and act boldly, and I always encourage people to adopt that mindset and push the envelope.
Who inspires you?
I’m inspired by people who accomplish great physical feats, like cycling around the world or crossing the Atlantic in a rowboat. They go on these great adventures and find a way to parlay what they’ve learned into a career or piece of work. The human race has been around a long time and we still find ways to break through the thresholds of our abilities. It makes me wonder what the limits really are.
Is there something you want to be remembered for?
I would really like to see this community and our organization in a better state when I leave than when I arrived. It’s something I take seriously, but I recognize that it’s a window of opportunity. As the city moves forward, the organization moves forward. Whatever I can do while I’m in this position, I hope it makes a positive impact.
Be bold and think about the future differently.