Dr. Ken Spencer, LL.D. (Hon)

Dr. Ken Spencer, LL.D. (Hon) (1944 – 2021)

Born and raised in Burnaby, BC, Ken Spencer is a tech legend in British Columbia. Ken graduated from the University of British Columbia in 1967 with an electrical engineering degree and in 1972 with a PhD. In 1981 he received his MBA from Simon Fraser University.

Spencer approached the business world with the same dogged determination that earned him academic accolades. In 1971 Spencer started his career as a design engineer at Macdonald Dettwiler which designs and manufactures equipment for imaging satellite receiving stations. Spencer was the 7th employee and he quickly moved into project management. By 1979, he was the Vice-President and General Manager. The firm grew from a startup to $100 million in sales during those years, making it one of Canada’s most successful technology companies.

Ken Spencer’s entrepreneurial spirit took over and he moved on to become the co-founder of Creo Products Inc. in 1983. Creo grew to become British Columbia’s largest technology company by revenue, with over 4,000 employees worldwide and $1 billion in annual sales. Creo was recognized through awards and in the media as innovative in both products and in the way it motivated employees by empowering them to make significant decisions without management approval. Ken retired as Creo’s CEO in 195, remaining on Creo’s board until Kodak acquired the company for $1 billion in 2005.

Spencer is as much defined by his business acumen as by his sense of social responsibility. Spencer has given back to the community, generously sharing his technical expertise, and investing in philanthropic projects. Spencer is an angel investor for BC tech start-ups. He has served as chair or director of numerous BC-based technology companies and not-for-profits including the Sciences Council of British Columbia and Canadian Educators Association. Spencer has also sat as a board member for educational institutions including BCIT, and currently serves on advisory boards for UBC and SFU. Spencer’s post-secondary involvement transcends board membership. Ken designed and taught an Engineering Management course at SFU in the 1980’s. He remains an Adjunct Professor today. Ken Spencer has received a number of awards including an Honorary Doctorate of Laws degree from Simon Fraser University in 2001.

Spencer’s main not-for-profit involvement was with Science World where he was a board member for 10 years, Chair for three. He also made a $1 million contribution to the organization to build an Outdoor Science Park. Spencer’s community contributions have not gone unrecognized. He was made a Friend of Science World in 201, one of only six honourees.

Spencer has three adult children and three grandchildren and is married to Judy Gale.


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