New CEO of British Columbia's Council of Forest Industries brings fresh set of eyes despite lack of forest sector experience, says board chairman, notes role can be 'like herding cats,' needs someone who can focus industry's 'triple-A' personalities

VICTORIA, British Columbia , September 4, 2013 () – While students were heading back to school on Tuesday, B.C.'s acting deputy minister of education was going the other direction.

James Gorman announced his departure from government to become president and chief executive officer of the Council of Forest Industries.

Gorman, who was also the deputy minister of advanced education, begins his new job Sept. 23.

An 18-year veteran of the B.C. public service, Gorman became deputy education minister in 2008. He moved to Advanced Education after the provincial election in May but remained acting deputy for the K-12 system while the government searched for his successor.

The government has yet to announce a new deputy for either ministry.

In a note to the Education Ministry on Tuesday, Gorman thanked staff for their support over the past six years.

"I enjoyed my time at Education more than any other in my professional life, in large part because of the remarkable people with whom I had the opportunity to work in the ministry and across our sector," he said. "I am proud of your many accomplishments and the work you do each day on behalf of B.C. students."

Nick Arkle, chairman of the forest council's board of directors, said the selection committee wanted someone with energy, enthusiasm and the ability to work on complex files. He said the council also put a priority on strong leadership and strategic thinking skills to guide the industry as it emerges from a deep recession.

Arkle said the committee wrestled with Gorman's lack of experience in the forestry sector, but felt he brings a "fresh set of eyes" and an ability to work with diverse groups of people.

"Let's face it, we've got an industry with some very, I would call it, triple-A personality individuals," Arkle said. "I've heard it said before that it's a little bit like herding cats, so you need someone who's able to do that and really get people focused on what's important."

The council also hopes to draw on Gorman's experience in education to help attract more young people to the industry.

"People are not thinking about forestry or the forest industry as a way to feed their families," he said. "As we all know, they're wellpaid jobs, but for some reason that hasn't been getting out there and we've lost that impetus of getting people to head off to school and take something connected to forestry." Gorman, who earned $246,000 in 2012-13, replaces John Allan, another former deputy minister, at the council's helm.

The Council of Forest Industries describes itself as the voice of B.C.'s Interior forest industry.

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