By Rosa Saba
For virtually her entire career, Jamie Petten had a front-row seat to see the strength and ingenuity of the Kanata North tech community as its established anchor firms and startups alike expanded locally and abroad.
Now, as the newly appointed executive director of the Kanata North Business Association, Petten is preparing to shepherd in a new phase of growth.
“There’s a unique opportunity for Kanata North as Canada’s largest technology park to really drive our Canadian innovation forward,” says Petten.
Petten began her career fresh out of university with the SPA Group of Companies, building the brand-new business’s home offices and overseas development in Jamaica from the ground up.
She had stayed in her home city to study communications and psychology at the University of Ottawa, and though the responsibility of building a new company was a big step for a new graduate, she took the challenge on with confidence. The company was, and still is, successful. But after four years, Petten says she was ready for a new – and bigger – challenge.
“What I learned about myself during that time is my passion for building businesses and building brands,” Petten says. “Being from Kanata, I turned to where I knew, from legacy, to an entrepreneur that had built many businesses and brands in Kanata.”
That entrepreneur was Terry Matthews, who played a key role in founding the L-Spark Accelerator Program through his company, Wesley Clover, along with Invest Ottawa.
Petten saw an opportunity to do the kind of work she had grown to love, but on a larger scale and focused on her home community. So, like many of the tech startups Petten champions, she scaled up, this time as a member of the founding team of L-Spark with Leo Lax and Patrick White.
She helped build the business accelerator from the ground up, finding inspiration and reward in helping small tech companies establish themselves and eventually attract venture capital.
Petten says the Kanata North tech community itself was “the impetus behind forming L-Spark.” The company’s focus was on connecting experienced people from some of the successful tech firms in Kanata with emerging entrepreneurs as part of an accelerator program meant to steer startups toward the investment they would need to maintain their momentum toward success.
“We worked diligently with those companies on a day-to-day basis,” Petten says. “There was nothing that we thought we couldn’t do.”
With 36 companies in L-Spark’s portfolio and a growing, diversifying community of tech firms in Kanata North, Petten once again began to look to bigger projects. Many of the companies in the technology park were making their names known nationally and globally, and with the Kanata North Business Association – now five years old – she saw an opportunity to continue the work she loved on yet another level.
“I started to really see the full picture of Canada’s technology community,” Petten says. “The creation of the Kanata North BA has enabled the community and the technology companies within it to connect and leverage their collective resources in a way that could not have been done otherwise.”
Where she once had just one company under her wing, Petten will now have several hundred. Nevertheless, she feels her experience and passion for helping businesses grow will translate well to the growth of the Kanata North community. She says she wants to continue the push to attract diverse talent into the technology park, as well as to show companies the potential talent available in Kanata.
“I am looking forward to being a champion for talent … both as a young leader and as a woman leading in technology,” Petten says. “I’m looking forward to working with those that are already here in the region and attract others who have unique and diverse perspectives to support our companies.”
—- by Rosa Saba