Dave Mullen, Managing Director, Highland West Capital Ltd., Winner of 2022 Barry Gekiere Lifetime Legacy Award
For Dave Mullen, being “semi-retired” means continuing his leadership at two private equity firms, sitting on six boards, and deepening his philanthropic work.
“I’m not really a retirement kind of guy. I enjoy being busy; I think it’s a little bit in my DNA,” says the executive who has helped put together more than 200 deals over the past 30-plus years.
Mullen spent most of his career as the head of private equity for the Americas at HSBC and led the 2011-spinout of its U.S. and Canadian subsidiaries to create Graycliff Partners and Fulcrum Capital Partners. In 2015, he joined Vancouver-based Highland West Capital as a managing director. He remains a managing director at Graycliff and Highland West today. Mullen is also the past chair of the CVCA and remains active with the organization.
This combination of industry leadership, experience, and success led Mullen to receive the CVCA’s Barry Gekiere Lifetime Legacy Award, named after the well-known venture capitalist, who passed away in 2020. The award recognizes leaders who positively impact the industry and help drive innovation and value creation.
Mullen does all this and more, say his peers who put his name forward for the award.
“Dave has a long history of mentoring and supporting team members as they grow in their careers in the private equity industry,” says David Rowntree, managing director at Highland West Capital, who has known Mullen personally and professionally for more than 40 years.
Rowntree says he has witnessed Mullen’s ability to provide mentorship and guidance to entrepreneurs and business leaders over the years, helping them grow their companies.
“He’s a hugely experienced, knowledgeable, and hard-working guy who thoroughly understands the metrics required to create value in our industry,” Rowntree says.
Mullen also raised the profile of the private equity and venture capital ecosystem through his years working at the CVCA, including helping governments and the public better understand the importance of these industries to Canada’s economy.
“It’s thanks to Dave that more people today understand what the industry does and how it creates value,” Rowntree says.
Mullen continues to support the CVCA by helping it develop a training program for young people coming into the industry. He also sponsored an internship program at UBC’s Sauder School of Business to educate more students about the opportunities in the private capital ecosystem.
“I’m a strong advocate of private capital markets,” Mullen says. “The more alternative sources of capital available to companies as they develop, the more options they have. It makes for a more vibrant and growth-oriented country. We need to continue developing talent and expanding those markets.”
Mullen also remains active with the many charities he supports, including the BC Cancer Foundation and True Patriot Love, a non-profit that helps military members, veterans, and their families.
“Dave has been a true and dedicated supporter of the military and Veteran community for years,” says Nick Booth, CEO, True Patriot Love.
“In 2018, he hiked side by side with Canadian veterans as part of our Himalayas Expedition, trekking up to 17,600 feet to the Everest Base Camp. The expedition raised over $1M and Dave was a huge part of that success, helping to support Veterans as they transitioned to civilian life.”
Booth says Mullen has continued to be engaged with True Patriot Love, most recently supporting the successful bid to secure a new winter hybrid Invictus Games in Vancouver Whistler for February 2025.
“Our congratulations to Dave and we look forward to continuing to work with him in the future on raising funds and awareness about the unique needs and challenges facing the military community.”
Mullen says he feels it’s important to give back to the community: “When you’ve had some success in your life, I think it behooves you to give back – and that’s what motivates me,” Mullen says.
Mullen also says he’s honoured to receive the Barry Gekiere Lifetime Legacy Award, especially given that it comes from the CVCA, an organization he helped develop and continues to support today.
“I’m very proud of where the organization is today and where it continues to go,” Mullen says.