Kanata North BIA hires L-Spark’s Jamie Petten as new executive director

The Kanata North Business Association’s search for a new leader culminated with a pick from its own tech park. 

The BIA announced Thursday that L-Spark’s Jamie Petten will take the organization’s helm as its new president and executive director.

Jamie Petten
L-Spark's director of marketing Jamie Petten will take the reins of the Kanata North Business Association. Photo provided.

Petten said in a statement that she’s “honoured” to represent the community of more than 500 tech firms. The University of Ottawa graduate says she’s looking forward to building on the KNBA’s first five years, adding that the “future is bright” for the tech park.

“I believe in the existing track record and future potential of the businesses in Kanata North to be globally dominant players in their respective markets,” she said. “(Founding executive director) Jenna (Sudds) and the KNBA team have set in place an incredible foundation, and I look forward to cultivating further opportunities to gain national and international recognition for the region and businesses within it.”

Petten, 28, is perhaps best known in the community as a founding member of Kanata’s L-Spark SaaS accelerator and its director of marketing for the past four years.

Her work with L-Spark saw her support 36 portfolio companies and connect a community of more than 10,000 entrepreneurs, mentors and partners, all while building the brand of the local accelerator.

L-Spark executive director Leo Lax said Petten has been integral to the accelerator’s growth.

“Her drive, focus and leadership has been a key part of L-Spark becoming the leading SaaS accelerator in Canada,” he said. “She will be sorely missed. However, I am even more pleased to see her reach higher as she takes on this prime leadership role. I look forward to hearing even more of her successes as she leads Kanata North BA to new heights.”

Petten also has her predecessor’s seal of approval. Sudds, who helped launched the BIA, left the organization last September to head up the federal government’s CIO Strategy Council. She also recently announced she is running for city council in Kanata North.

Sudds said in a release that she’s “thrilled” the board of directors picked Petten, calling her a “proven and demonstrated leader.”

“I sincerely can think of no one better to guide the association forward in the coming months and years,” she said.

Sudds herself was involved in the process to pick a replacement, which was expected to wrap up last fall. That search continued into 2018, and Jeff McNamee has filled the role in the interim. The initial round of 105 applicants for the position contained only 25 women, a stat that disappointed the BIA’s former leader.

The choice to keep a woman at the helm also resonates with members of the Kanata North tech park.

“I'm thrilled to see the KNBA continue its tradition of smart, community-building women in leadership,” Tracy King, director of marketing at Martello Technologies, said in a statement.

Petten is also directly involved with initiatives that promote female engagement in technology. She serves on the board of Women in Communications and Technology and as a trustee on Mayor Jim Watson’s scholarship fund for women in tech.