Lisa Patel runs her own mortgage business, volunteers for numerous non-profit organizations, is grooming herself for municipal councillor and still finds time to upgrade her skills at college.


You can get exhausted just listening to Lisa Patel talk about her career.


This tireless go-getter runs her own mortgage business, volunteers for numerous non-profit organizations, is grooming herself to become a municipal councillor — and keeps returning to college for new skills to help her reach her goals.

“My parents taught me a lot through the family businesses we had,” Patel, 27, says. “I learned how to take risks, was shown how to grow a business and do effective planning.”

Having worked in her family’s entrepreneurial ventures as a teenager, she was drawn to Centennial College’s Hospitality and Tourism Administration program in the hopes of starting her own travel agency.

But that goal changed with the advent of the Internet, which decimated the traditional travel business model.

Instead, Patel joined CIBC at its downtown Toronto headquarters. She became a co-ordinator of event planning and communications, helping the bank with its special events — a skill she learned in her hospitality program.

While the work was challenging and fun, Patel couldn’t shake the feeling there was more to learn and accomplish there. So she transferred into the bank’s mortgage subsidiary, Home Loans Canada (HLC).

She liked the idea of becoming a mortgage specialist, reliant on her own wits and motivation to succeed. With the challenges of her new job, Patel recognized the need to go back to college to acquire more knowledge.

Centennial’s Project Management certificate program, offered part time in the evenings, gave Patel new skills in business planning, team building, risk assessment and communications. And she didn’t stop there.

“I ended up applying for the Teacher of Adults program and met some amazing individuals and had a great time,” Patel recalls.

She says teaching moments present themselves often in business.

“I educate people about mortgages, for example.”

Patel also completed a mortgage agent course at Centennial, and is currently taking courses in professional writing, public relations and public administration.

“I’m looking to get into politics,” she reveals with a smile. “I ran for councillor in the town of Ajax during the last municipal election and I came in second.”

If it sounds like Patel’s long-term goals may be a little unfocused, nothing could be further from the truth.

“Being a councillor is a part-time job in Ajax. I will have plenty of time to grow my business, volunteer for different organizations and go to school.”

The energy and resolve she has demonstrated to date suggests she’ll reach her goals and then some.

Patel attributes her successes to her steadfast adherence to lifelong learning.

“In life we are given so many options, paths and choices. One of my best decisions was to go back to school,” she says.

“It’s not easy, but it’s definitely beneficial and rewarding.”

For more details about Centennial College’s part-time courses and certificate programs, visit