Monday, March 03, 2008

Founding staff skipping out on iProvo, UTOPIA

Utah’s 2 largest municipal telecom systems are struggling to maintain their senior staff. UTOPIA’s founding executives—Paul Morris (Executive Director), Roger Black (COO) and David Shaw (General Counsel)—have all left in the last six months, and iProvo has failed to hire a telecommunications manager for more than a year. Filling these positions will prove challenging. Not only will these potential executives have to solve UTOPIA’s and iProvo’s persistent financial problems posting), but qualified and interested applicants will be few and far between.

Centerville City Council member Paul Cutler and Orem City Manager Jim Reams have been hired as interim directors, but the UTOPIA board is actively seeking a new executive director and accountant. As with so many other aspects of UTOPIA’s life cycle, iProvo’s experience suggests serious problems. Initially a triumvirate of Kevin Garlick (Energy Director), Paul Venturella (Telecommunications Director) and Mary DeLaMare-Schaefer (Communications and Marketing Manager), were to run iProvo. Only Kevin Garlick remains. Venturella jumped ship in February 2007, and DeLaMare-Schaefer left in June 2007.

For more than a year, iProvo has actively sought to hire a new telecommunications manager. The problems they’ve faced are so significant that Provo’s HR manager participated in an iProvo summit last December just to announce new strategies to fill this position. Another 3 months later, the position remains unfilled.

Given the similarity of their services, there’s no doubt that they are competing with each other, and with the private sector, to fill these positions. And since iProvo’s job posting has already languished for more than a year, it’s hard to imagine that UTOPIA’s entry into the fray will make it any easier for either municipal telecom system to fill the position.