BY GARY THANDI
“Be true to yourself and know that life’s a journey. It’s not about seeking recognition through a title, but doing your best and being a contributing member of whatever team you’re on. And, and at the same time learning a broad set of skills you can build on as you move forward in your career that are aligned with your personal values.”
Kathy Kinloch has spent over 30 years as a respected health care provider, educator, and leader. She is currently the President of the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT), which serves approximately 50,000 students annually. Holding this position since 2014, she was previously President of Vancouver Community College for three years, and the Dean of BCIT’s School of Health Sciences before that.
Kathy started her career in nursing after obtaining her Diploma in Nursing and a Bachelor of Science with honours from the University of Alberta. She also holds a Master of Arts in Leadership and a Graduate Certificate in Executive Coaching from Royal Roads University.
“I was raised in Edmonton, graduated from high school, and went straight into nursing,” Kathy recalls. “I had the good fortune to begin my career in a cardiac care intensive unit, which was unusual for a new graduate in those days to join a highly specialized team. It was a wonderful experience, and it taught me not only nursing but about working with people in vulnerable situations, and the corresponding impact on patients and loved ones.”
After several years of working as a registered nurse in Alberta and B.C., Kathy taught at UBC School of Nursing, and then led several clinical nursing units at Vancouver General Hospital. She then moved to Royal Columbian Hospital where she was responsible for the development of a Quality Assurance plan, which was unique at that time. She then moved on to Surrey Hospital as Vice-President of Nursing, a position she held for 15 years. She eventually took the position of Chief Operating Officer within the Fraser Health Authority, and then a Senior Advisor at the BC Ministry of Health, working on the restructuring of cardiac and orthopedic services provincially.
“My leadership style is based on values, the premise of leading from behind and encouraging those who report to me to evolve and learn
“Early in my career, I would jump into things more quickly, but with experience I have learned to seek wisdom and learning from a broad network of advisors. My style in leading teams is to take calculated risks, support each other, and learn and adapt as we go along. So, if there has been a skillset that was helpful in my career, it is the ability to trust, as well as to encourage.”
When the opportunity to move into the post-secondary education sector presented itself, Kathy took on a new adventure to broaden her experience. “I loved the role of Dean with BCIT’s School of Health Sciences,” she relates. Later, although it was hard to leave BCIT, she took on the role of President of Vancouver Community College to further enhance her skillset.
“Their vast offerings included language services for newcomers and teaching for the businesses and organizations in the downtown area and beyond.”
While she describes it as “a fabulous experience,” she was eventually drawn full-circle back to BCIT to applied education at a provincial level, with six schools and a provincial mandate to educate B.C.’s workforce for key economic sectors and employers.
“In terms of the future, like all post-secondary institutions in the post-pandemic world, BCIT will be evolving, innovating and adapting to ensure we continue to deliver a valued educational experience, for our students, faculty, staff and partners across key sectors of our province.
Kathy was named a Woman of Distinction by the YWCA Metro Vancouver in 2016, one of Canada’s 100 Most Powerful Women awarded by the Women’s Executive Network, one of the 50 most influential women in BC in 2015 by BC Business, and on the top 50 Power list by Vancouver Magazine. She also holds an Honorary Doctorate from Royal Roads University.