The 2022 Women of the Year Awards: Corporate Leader – Runner-up

The runner-up for the corporate leader category of The 2022 Women of the Year Awards is Copperleaf Technologies CEO Judi Hess.

Copperleaf Technologies' Judi Hess

Judi Hess
CEO, Copperleaf Technologies

To call Judi Hess a leader in the B.C. tech sector is an understatement. Armed with a math degree from University of Waterloo, the Toronto native started her career in 1982 as a software engineer with B.C. aerospace company MDA, where she headed major projects and programs. Joining Creo, she became president in 2002, steering the local digital imaging pioneer through its landmark US$1 billion sale to Eastman Kodak Co.

Hess then got recruited as CEO of Copperleaf, a struggling Vancouver provider of decision analytics software. Taking over in 2009, she stabilized the company by raising capital. Hess also collaborated with her team to create the right culture. “It’s how you think, act and interact,” she says. “It’s about behaviour, both inside the company and outside.”

Under Hess, Copperleaf has grown into a global player with more than 400 employees as its rivals got bought out. “I think we had bigger ambitions than just taking it to $50 million and then selling it,” she says of the business, whose customers oversee critical infrastructure such as electrical and water utilities. “The objective was to build this culture, build this team, make a difference in the world with our product.”

Copperleaf, which now manages $2.6 trillion worth of infrastructure for clients in 25 countries, went public on the Toronto Stock Exchange last fall. It was the TSX’s lone debut by a woman-led tech company in 2021—and just its second such IPO ever. 

Looking ahead, Hess is keen to work with Copperleaf’s clients, who are mainly in the energy sector, as they seek to reduce carbon emissions. “We can help companies put real plans in place to get to net zero.