Andrew Petrou considers himself an entrepreneur, even though he has always worked in the public sector. He can trace his enthusiasm for new ventures back to his high school days in Scarborough when, on a trip to his parents’ native Greece, he became fascinated with the local FIX Hellas beer and managed to acquire the Canadian distribution rights. His days as a beer baron are long gone, but Petrou has continued to come up with a constant parade of new ideas in his 20-year career at Scarborough’s Centennial College, first as an accounting professor in the Hospitality program and now as Director of Strategic Initiatives and External Relations.
“I love that I’m able to use my imagination and creativity to help shape the future of the college.”
In his current role, Petrou is responsible for the blossoming Downsview Aerospace Innovation and Research Consortium, which began when he was asked by the Dean of Transportation to find a way to move Centennial’s Aviation program from the Ashtonbee campus in Scarborough to the Downsview urban park, taking advantage of its runway and Bombardier’s nearby manufacturing operation. Other government, academic and corporate partners followed, creating a $75 million research facility that will also be home to 900 Centennial students next year.
“It has become bigger than we ever dreamed of. It is resonating globally.”
In his spare time, Petrou is Vice-President of the newly revamped Scarborough Business Association and always looking for opportunities to think big about the sprawling district. “Scarborough is such a big radius of real estate in Toronto,” he says.
“We want to take a good look at its future and amplify the opportunities coming out of what’s happening here in the east.”