Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

Judi Hess to depart as Copperleaf CEO after leading firm to unicorn status

Hess to assume new duties as vice-chairwoman and chief strategist early next year
Copperleaf CEO Judi Hess is set to transition to the role of vice-chairwoman and chief strategist in January 2023 | Rob Kruyt, BIV

Copperleaf Technologies Inc. (TSX:CPLF) will kick off 2023 with a new CEO leading the Vancouver-based technology company — a moves that comes about a year after going public and reaching unicorn status.

Current president Paul Sakrzewski joins the company’s board of directors effective Tuesday (Sept. 6) and will assume CEO duties this coming January 1.

He will replace current CEO Judi Hess, who will assume the role of vice-chairwoman and chief strategist at the start of next year.

“[Sakrzewski] has been at the helm of our successful global go-to-market and strategy team, focused on driving our sales, marketing, services and support teams to advance the company's overall vision,” Hess said in a statement. 

“Having worked with Paul for many years, I have the utmost confidence in his abilities to lead Copperleaf into our next chapter of growth and I look forward to working closely with him to ensure a smooth transition."

Copperleaf is best known for developing software that helps clients who manage critical infrastructure — such as electricity generation or natural gas distribution — to make investment decisions.

It reached a $1-billion valuation after going public in October 2021, raising $160 million and seeing its shares debut at more than $24 each upon its first day of trading. Share prices have steadily fallen since that debut and are now trading at $6.20 as of Tuesday, 7:30 a.m. PT.

The company was originally founded as a consulting firm in 2000 before Hess took over in 2009. At that time, it employed just a couple of dozen people, was facing a squeeze on revenue and was dealing with a lawsuit brought on by its founder.

“When I joined, the first thing I really needed to do with the team was to basically raise money and actually capitalize the company,” Hess told BIV last year.

Hess helped Copperleaf raise $8.2 million in 2010 and eventually expanded it to a team of 250 employees ahead of last year’s IPO.

“We decided that we really wanted to raise money to really have the opportunity to build the company out even more, go after more sectors … grow geographically,” she said, adding that her team determined an IPO was the best route to accomplish that.

“We’ve proven that out being one of the best-performing tech IPOs in 2021 and also actually the only female-led tech IPO in 2021, as well, so I’m hoping more women will join me in the next little while.”

Hess said in Tuesday’s statement that with the IPO completed, now is the best time for her to focus on her passion for strategy and help boost Copperleaf’s global reach.

Previously an executive with SAP, Sakrzewski joined Copperleaf in 2018 and built out the company’s team focused on Asian markets.

A spokesman working on behalf of Copperleaf told BIV he has moved to Vancouver after previously being based out of Singapore.

“I look forward to working with Judi to further develop and grow the business while ensuring a seamless transition,” he said in a statement. “I'm truly excited to build on the company's great foundation, strategy and culture alongside our industry-leading team as we continue to deliver innovation to our clients."

Notable B.C. tech sector C-suite shuffles of 2022:

[email protected]