Entrepreneurs passionately seek new opportunities and pursue them with enormous discipline. Alumnus and Professor Emeritus Joseph C. Paradi is a textbook example of a prosperous entrepreneur. His merit of distinction, however, lies in his desire to share what he has learned.
“There comes a time when you want to pay back to the next generation,” says Professor Paradi.
From humble beginnings working odd jobs to pay his way through his U of T degrees in Chemical Engineering, Professor Paradi now runs five lucrative small businesses – Parcorp Ltd., Translucent Technologies Inc., Softek Computer Services Ltd., DesignCo Ltd., and VeraPar Kft. – all of which have been operating for more than 10 years.
His first business, Dataline Inc., a computer services firm, brought in sales of $25 million and employed 185 people in 1987. Professor Paradi led Dataline for 20 years but decided to leave the organization in 1989 to join the University of Toronto as a Professor. In spite of his fruitful endeavors, Professor Paradi’s measure of success does not come from the profits generated from his organizations but from the success of his people, a mantra he has extended through the Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering.
For the past 18 years, Professor Paradi has been running the Faculty’s Centre for Management of Technology and Entrepreneurship, an initiative he brought to the forefront while teaching in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry.
The effects of technology on the environment, jobs, educational needs, and global competitiveness are a concern for many. The Centre, through its courses and research, prepares future Engineering entrepreneurs and leaders to grow their skills around the needs of society. Eight courses are offered through the Centre, including Entrepreneurship and Small Business (APS234), Entrepreneurship and Business Management (APS432), Entrepreneurship and Business for Engineers (APS1088), as well as a separate course for each of the Engineering disciplines. Students who take both APS234 and APS432 receive the Centre’s Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Small Business Management Certificate upon successful completion.
“Professor Paradi’s commitment to the Centre inspires its participants to work hard, persevere, and never back away from challenges or opportunities,” says Claire Kennedy, a legal law partner of Davies, Ward, Phillips & Vineberg, and a ChemE alumna and former student of the Centre.
For many, going into business is seldom a pre-determined plan. The key is to recognize opportunity, go for it, and engage the right people for support. Entrepreneurs focus on execution and engage the energies of everyone in their domain.