Today I am thrilled to share a report on my first 100+ days in office as President and Executive Director of the Kanata North Business Association. It was with an immense amount of pride and excitement that I stepped into the role in May 2018.
However, this journey began well before I “officially” assumed office in May. Seven months ago, my husband and I found out we were expecting our first child. Within the same week, I walked in to a meeting with the Kanata North Business Association Board of Directors for an interview that would change my life.
As a career driven woman in tech, I have spent many sleepless nights over the years, wrestling with the notion of change. Turning down job opportunities and holding off growing my family as I thought if I chose one, it would mean deciding against the other.
At the beginning of 2018 I decided to take a leap of faith and start saying YES. Yes to the job interview and offer of my dreams and yes to growing my family. It has been a whirlwind over these past seven months. Watching my body grow, feeling this little life inside of me and dreaming of what the future will look like when the baby arrives. All while leading a new company, getting to know the board, team and members of KNBA and planning for our future growth and direction.
Our past President, Jenna Sudds, alongside our dynamic team, set in place an incredible foundation for our Kanata North community to thrive. Over these past 100+ days I have had the pleasure of getting to know many fearless leaders in Kanata North, all of whom makeup the unique DNA and collective identity of our business community. With a rich base of 21,000+ skilled employees and 500 companies who call Kanata North home, contributing over $7.8 Billion to Canada’s GDP, it’s no wonder we are poised to be Canada’s capital of innovation.
Kanata North has a legacy of tech success, an existing track record of real time achievement and future potential to lead Canada’s innovation agenda on the world stage.
Underpinning our eco-system are a variety of retail and business support services. Consequently, this rich community attracts a high percentage and diverse mix of young, highly-educated and highly experienced people who choose to take advantage of the many career-growth options presented in Kanata North.
So what have I been up to over the past 100+ days?
Getting to know the incredible team…
Deborah Lovegrove and Vanessa Baillie are the backbone to our success as a business association. Working tirelessly day and night to support the needs of our businesses, these women are powerhouses in their own rights. As our business association has scaled in the level of support provided to our members, so have their efforts to keep the momentum going.
Now our team is growing. We are hiring a Community Coordinator and Director of Operations and will have exciting announcements over the coming weeks to introduce these new team members as a part of our KNBA family!
Meeting our members…
As a part of our new #MemberMonday initiative, Deborah and I have had the pleasure of meeting with many of our member companies over the past few months. Thank you Syntronic, Amika Mobile, Fidus Systems, Intouch insight, Ericcson, Newfound Recruiting, Nokia, Martello, Magnet Forensics, TrendMicro and many more, for hosting us for #MemberMondays. The conversations have been electric and it is evident, business is booming for our Kanata North tech hub and as a result talent attraction and retention remain a TOP priority for our members.
In fact, real estate services firm CBRE released a tech talent scorecard over the summer, which ranked Canada’s capital as No. 1 among North American tech hubs with the most “momentum”. I discuss this in greater detail on Techopia Live interview here: http://obj.ca/article/broaden-your-search-and-focus-potential-techopia-live-talent-panel
As the summer comes to a close and we move ahead in to fall, I can’t help but feel a surge of this momentum picking up in the Kanata North community. Long standing Kanata North company, Martello Technologies, for example, rang in its public listing at the TSX Venture Exchange . Solace Systems, also announced a landmark deal to underpin the connected car communications systems for one of the world’s biggest producers of premium vehicles, Dailmer. Further reinforcing our strength as Canada’s Autonomous Vehicle capital.
As momentum picks up, we have launched an economic impact study and benchmark talent and diversity study to better understand the current composition of roles and functions in our Kanata North community and evaluate future needs. Our HR leadership council have participated in numerous interviews with leading technology research firm, Doyletech, and I am looking forward to capturing their first round of results in a report that will be shared with the community in early 2019!
Consulting with Government leaders…
As I look around Kanata North I can see the impacts of our community’s growth. With the pace picking up, traffic congestion is at an all-time high. A sign of economic growth and business strength in our community but also a signal to our government leaders of the essential transformation required with our roads and city infrastructure.
I have had the pleasure of meeting with Mayor Watson as well as with Councillor Marianne Wilkinson, Councillor Allan Hubley, our incoming provincial MPP, Merrilee Fullerton and federal MP, Karen McCrimmon over these past few months. We have discussed at great lengths the needs of our business community in Kanata North. From talent attraction to infrastructure support, our government leaders have made clear commitments towards continued improvement of our ecosystem.
I also discussed government support of tech talent needs in an interview with CBC Ottawa.
With the municipal election just around the corner, soon we will have new leadership representing the priorities of our business community.
I encourage you to get active and share your thoughts about the issues that are important to your teams, businesses and families. Get engaged and informed. Most importantly, get out and vote on October 22nd, the future of our tech hub depends on it.
Building upon strong partnerships…
KNBA and Invest Ottawa have, over the past several years, established a strong working relationship, centred on the unified goal of attracting business, talent and investment to Ottawa in order to generate economic growth and opportunity for our city. I have enjoyed thorough discussion and collaboration with Michael Tremblay and the team at Invest Ottawa to lead efforts that will continue to reinforce Ottawa as the thriving technology, innovation and creative cluster that it is.
Anchoring this collaboration is an aligned focus on reinforcing Ottawa as Canada’s Autonomous Vehicle Capital.
Over the coming months, we will announce exciting initiatives such as a National Autonomous Vehicle Conference and National Autonomous Vehicles Institute. We are proud to be spearheading efforts in collaboration with Invest Ottawa and CAVCOE in order to establish coast to coast collaboration and access to partnerships that will strengthen Canada’s contribution to Autonomous Vehicle innovation globally.
Over the past few months, I have also had the pleasure of meeting with University of Ottawa President Jacques Fremont, Algonquin College President Cheryl Jensen and Willis College President Rima Aristocrat.
I look forward to working with each of these educational partners, and others in our community from La Cite and Carleton University to advance how the bright minds of the future connect to the opportunities that are abundant in Canada’s Largest Technology Park.
Among the exciting talent initiatives on the horizon for KNBA, we have been working in close partnership with the University of Ottawa’s VP of Research, Sylvain Charbonneau and several senior executives from the faculties of Engineering, Telfer, Law, Arts, Co-op, Alumni and Communications to create a stronger connection between academia and industry in the Kanata North community. There are several exciting announcements and projects coming down the pipe over the coming weeks that we will have to share with you!
Supporting our community…
Our Kanata Networker publication has been the authoritative guide to what’s new and what’s happening in the Kanata North community for several years.
Each quarter our team of journalists share compelling and unique stories of the people and companies in Canada’s largest technology park. We are proud to highlight the diverse ecosystem of high-performance individuals working on interesting and leading-edge technology. The publication, produced in partnership with Michael Curran and the team at Great River Media, will be soaring to new heights in 2019! Keep an eye out for exciting news and initiatives from the Networker both online and in person!
Increasingly, talent are considering social values and impact when making employment decisions. So much so that community-building initiatives and charitable involvement are now inherent to the DNA of our companies.
Leaders in Kanata North are asking themselves; How are we contributing to the broader community? How are our collective corporate resources being leveraged as a force for good?
Similarly, our Kanata North Business Association team have been asking ourselves, what can we do for our community beyond just what will we do in our community.
Over the summer our team led a few community driven efforts, including but not limited to:
- In June, we hosted Working Minds #GetLouder, as a founding partner with Snapclarity and brought together over 120 of Ottawa’s start-up and tech communities to #GetLouder about mental health care in the workplace.
- We corralled weekly summer lunch parties for several hundred employees from our tech park at the HUB with food trucks and live entertainment!
- Over the summer, we worked with the Bbetter Foundation to deliver youth entrepreneurship programs for the Ottawa Boys and Girls Club! Over 20 youth participated in startup pitches after weeks of hard work ideating their startups up at Camp Smitty!
- In September we co-hosted Startup Open House in partnership with L-SPARK, Invest Ottawa, Collab Space and Shopify. Over 30 startups from the Kanata North community rallied together at L-SPARK to celebrate and tap in to the entrepreneurial energy that exists in Canada’s largest technology park!
Diversity, inclusion, youth, mentorship, mental health, workplace wellness, grassroots entrepreneurship. These are all defining attributes of the social ecosystem that we are developing in Kanata North. Our KNBA members already have positive stories to tell and over the weeks, months and years to come, I look forward to developing a strong corporate social responsibility mandate to support these community driven efforts in our business community.
Planning what’s next…
So what’s next for Kanata North Business Association?
Our KNBA Board undertook a strategic planning effort over the summer to establish a set of strategic priorities that will reinforce the organization’s mission in “phase two” of Kanata North’s evolution and inform KNBA’s work plans for the next 3-5 years. I am grateful to be working with a group so passionate about delivering impact and growth for our businesses.
We plan to deliver the priorities of this strategic plan at our upcoming AGM on December 6th, 2018. Save the date to join us at The Marshes at 5pm.
As a lifelong Kanata resident, graduate of the University of Ottawa and recently recognized Forty under 40 recipient, I have spent the last ten years of my career in the local business community. As a result of my experience working in startups, venture capital and tech, I am extremely passionate about building supportive ecosystems for scaling Canadian businesses and their teams to live, work and thrive.
However, in so many ways growing a business is like raising a child and the notion that it takes a village rings true now more than ever. Our greatest responsibility as leaders is to recognize that we don’t have to know and do everything alone. By working together, collaborating and leveraging the collective strength, wisdom and expertise of those around us, our businesses and communities can reach new heights.
The future is bright for Kanata North and I am honoured to work with an active board, passionate team and engaged group of partners to cultivate further opportunities for businesses in Kanata North. Together, we will strengthen existing pride, build national and international recognition of this thriving tech hub and attract diverse talent to the region as a part of phase two of Kanata’s North Business Association’s next chapter!
– Jamie Petten,
President and Executive Director, Kanata North Business Association