President of Pinnacle Capital Partners Mike Panayi discusses life as a refugee, kite sales, how business furthers scientific research, and more.
Mike Panayi was born in Milia, Famagusta, Cyprus in 1964 of Greek Cypriot Heritage. He became a refugee at the age of 10 in August 1974 as a result of the Turkish invasion in Cyprus. He spent the next three years as a refugee in his own country, living in a tent with his family in a Red Cross refugee concentration camp. He immigrated to Canada with his family in July 1977 seeking a safer and prosperous future and became a proud Canadian Citizen in 1983. He studied at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo obtaining an Honors Business Administration degree with an option in Economics in 1987 and continued his studies while working, obtaining the designation of Chartered Business Valuator (CBV) in 1997 and Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), designation in 2001.
He started his career working in public accounting before joining Canada Revenue Agency from 1988 to 1999 as a tax auditor and then as a Senior Business Valuator. In 1999 he returned to public accounting for one year before venturing out in 2000 to co-found the Pinnacle Group of Companies, commencing with Pinnacle Consultants Inc., a company offering SRED consulting services and Pinnacle Capital Partners, offering financial advisory services in Canadian company expansions into the US, mergers and acquisitions, financings and divestitures. In 2005 he commenced his own self funded private equity group under Pinnacle Capital Partners and started investing in business interests as part of a diversified portfolio. He spends most of his time in completing acquisitions and serving on the board of directors of the companies held within the group, helping grow the companies. Holdings are in Canada and the US, well diversified with equity interests in the areas of pharmaceuticals, software, biomedical instruments, plastics, and gear manufacturing for the wind energy, mining and hydro power generation industries.
He supports charitable organizations in the local community of Waterloo region, as well in the greater Toronto area and was also a founding board member of the Greek Cypriot Community of Waterloo Region in 1997. He serves on the dean’s advisory council for the University of Waterloo Engineering, and the board of directors of The Hellenic Heritage Foundation based in Toronto (raising funds for charitable causes promoting Hellenism, such as the endowment of the Hellenic Studies Chair at York University, the Hellenic Home for the Aged, and the Hellenic Theater for the performing arts at the Greek Community of Toronto as well as the construction of day camps for children under the Greek Orthodox Metropolis). He is also a past president and current board member of the Canadian branch of the International Coordinating Committee for the justice of Cyprus (PSEKA Canada), a human rights organization seeking a fair and viable solution for all the people of Cyprus which includes Greek, Turkish and all other minorities, regardless of ethnicity, race or religion. He is passionate about this cause as it has had a profound effect in his life starting from a very young age.
Mike enjoys live theater, Greek music, good food and interaction with people, golf, squash and running. He enjoys spending time with his wife Christina and his twin four-year-old daughters, Eleni and Jacqueline.
LINKS FROM THE EPISODE
What are your greatest professional accomplishments? [1:40]
What is your motivation in investing in the companies in your portfolio? What is your biggest investment success? [3:07]
What experiences during your childhood put you on your current path? [4:54]
Tell me more about your experience as a chid working for your father's store. [6:15]
How did having work responsibilities at a young age affect your character for honest? [11:45]
Can you tell me more about your life as a refugee? [15:38]
While living in a refugee camp, how did your father's entrepreneurial spirit and your own entrepreneurial disposition affect you? [19:16]
What lessons during your father's meetings with his accountant were fueling your later understanding of finance? [21:29]
Tell me about your arrival in Canada. [22:24]
Upon arriving in Canada, did you maintain your entrepreneurial spirit? [26:16]
Do you have any advice for today's parents? [29:58]
What is your favorite charitable cause? [32:08]