Bruce Saville - Brentwood Governor, Parent and Benefactor
The portraits of Martin Luther King, Bobby Kennedy, Winston Churchill and JFK behind Bruce Saville’s desk reveal his enduring interest in civil rights causes and his great respect for these influential leaders. They also signify that he identifies with visionary and ambitious men who have a strong sense of contributing to the greater good.
Bruce Saville’s career started in the Sales and Service division of Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company in Ontario where, among other things, he was responsible for producing a 10 page sales summary for the executive team, using just a manual calculator and data provided to him in a mountainous 4-foot thick computer printout generated each month. This task was, of course, ridiculously time consuming and inefficient! On several occasions he spoke with IT personnel about getting the system computerized, but to no avail – they brushed him off with the excuse of being too busy.
Frustrated by the manual nature of the traditional process, and his IT Department’s unwillingness to explore any automation, Bruce decided to seek external help from one the guys on his hockey team – a systems analyst. At the next ice hockey game, this team-mate turned up with 5 volumes of Cobol programming manuals.
To most people, reading a programming manual is like reading a book in a foreign language, but it clicked with Bruce. He worked around the clock to read the manuals and then design a system for Goodyear’s sales reporting. A week later he took his program to the IT Department and asked them to run it. Much to their amazement, it worked! And so began Bruce Saville’s spectacular career in the computer industry. He was immediately seconded as programmer/systems analyst for Goodyear and subsequently Canada Systems Group.
His response to Northern Telephone Limited’s 1974 search for a Manager of Computer Programming was a further defining period in his career. The knowledge he ultimately gained in this role took Bruce to Edmonton where, in 1982, he established Saville Systems. His company became a leading provider of convergent billing and customer care solutions for telecommunication companies, and teamed with some of the biggest players in the industry, including AT&T, Sprint, Unitel (AT&T Canada), Deutch Telecom and Nippon Telecom. It grew from a small start-up in Edmonton and Toronto to a publicly traded company, operating globally with offices in the U.S., Canada, Ireland, Australia and Singapore, with more than 1,700 employees worldwide. In October 1999 the company was purchased by ADC Telecommunications, with head offices in Minnesota, and then was subsequently purchased by Intec Telecom Systems of Great Britain. Bruce currently acts as President of the Saville Interest Group, a private investment company.
When his company began to grow exponentially, Bruce decided it would be prudent to hire a President to take over running the business. With his work load considerably reduced, he began looking for new and rewarding opportunities to which he could apply his energies. Serendipitously, at about the same time, a questionnaire from the Inner City Agencies Foundation, directed at businessmen and donors, arrived in his mailbox. Bruce duly filled it out, including checking a box which indicated his interest in helping out. Within days, he was invited to his first meeting, where he was promptly appointed Board Chair! This Edmonton organization raises funds and awareness for seven intercity groups addressing poverty, housing, hunger, health and mental health issues and the needs of seniors and youth. With Bruce at the helm, the Board decided to focus on raising awareness for these issues within the business community by hosting a fundraising luncheon called “Mac & Cheese at the Mac” – gourmet macaroni and cheese at the Macdonald Hotel in Edmonton for $25 per plate – which sold out in the very first year! By its 10th year, the luncheon had to move to the Convention Centre to accommodate the 1000 people who paid $250 per plate to attend; it continues to be an important annual fundraiser in Edmonton. Bruce is understandably proud that over $1 million was raised during his time on the Board. When asked why he has worked so hard for this cause, he humbly stated “There but for the grace of God go I. None of us is exempt and any of us could end up in bad circumstances. I believe in the importance of helping my fellow man.”
Bruce has also been drawn to the needs of sick or disadvantaged children, whom he calls “innocent victims of their circumstances” – hence his nine year commitment on the Board of the Stollery Children’s Hospital. During this time, enough money was raised to build a children’s hospital within the University of Alberta’s hospital complex, at a time when the government would not provide any additional funding for bricks and mortar.
A former board member of NAIT, a Governor of the University of Alberta and a tremendous supporter of education, Bruce made a donation to the U of A which resulted in the naming of their world class gym and curling complex, the Saville Sports Centre. This multi-purpose 135,000 sq.ft. facility is used not only by the University, but also by the community – from elite curlers and Special Olympics athletes to seniors. A spectacular new 260,000 sq.ft. gymnastics, volleyball and basketball complex adjacent to the first complex has just opened, and it was recently announced that both facilities together will now be referred to as the Saville Community Sports Centre.
Throughout his demanding professional life, Bruce maintained balance by pursuing his passion for ice hockey. In fact, he has been involved in the game from every angle – coach, player, fan, team owner and philanthropist. Bruce continues to play in a senior men’s league – always as goalie. His son Kennedy (Class of 2003) was also on the team for a couple of years. Bruce has had the opportunity to be a practice goalie for the Edmonton Oilers, often attended the Gretzky Fantasy Camp, and has strapped on his pads with some of the great names in the game, including Wayne Gretzky. From 1998 to 2008 he was one of three senior investors in the Edmonton Oilers, and billeted one of the young Oilers stars from the Czech Republic. He is currently the Chairman of the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation, which works collaboratively to improve and support organizations and charities throughout “oil country.”
This provides only a glimpse of Bruce Saville’s remarkable career and philanthropic work. He has been a member of a multitude of boards and not for profits. In 1991, he was honoured as Entrepreneur of the Year; in 2001, he received Edmonton’s Philanthropist of the Year Award; in 2003, the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Award; and, in 2005, he was inducted into the Alberta Business Hall of Fame and was awarded the Alberta Centennial Medal.
Since 2003, Brentwood has been fortunate to have Bruce’s expertise and perspective on the Board of Governors. In response to Kennedy’s Brentwood experience, and the influence and mentoring of his Rogers’ Houseparent, Bruce and Kennedy dedicated the Bruce Tate Laboratory. More recently, Bruce also made a generous lead gift to establish the Saville Centre for Business and Entrepreneurship in Crooks Hall. He believes that Brentwood motivates its students to achieve their best, and is developing future leaders through rigorous academic challenge, a broad range of co-curricular opportunities and personal encouragement. Through his leadership and support, Bruce Saville continues to enhance and influence the Brentwood experience.