Early years: An entrepreneur’s daughter with high ambitions
Lisa Kimmel grew up in Ottawa in an entrepreneurial family. Her dad, Arnold Kimmel, right out of school, opened his first convenience store the year Lisa was born, and today employs more than 300 people with a strong presence in Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec.
“My father encouraged me to get into business and would have liked me to get involved with the family business,” says Lisa. “I held summer jobs with the company when I was younger, but ultimately I wanted to chart my own path and do what I loved most, which he understood.”
Lisa admires her dad’s incredible entrepreneurial drive. His father (her grandfather) ran a fruit store, after immigrating to Ottawa from Russia in the 1920s.
Lisa later rose to general manager of Edelman, the world’s largest PR firm and connects her experience to her family’s entrepreneurial nature.
“I think that’s part of my attraction to Edelman – despite our size there’s definitely an entrepreneurial spirit here,” she says. “There’s opportunity here to take risk within the confines of a very well established firm.”
At university, Lisa studied political science and sociology, with the intention of becoming a lawyer. At the time she was writing her L-SATS, she was dating a lawyer and had two uncles in the legal profession. “It suddenly occurred to me that none of them seemed happy in their professions and I started to consider other career options.”
Interestingly, Lisa’s mother Roslyn had done a significant amount of volunteer work and event planning. “Her work intrigued me and I decided to apply to the Humber PR program to broaden my skillset beyond just event planning,” she recalls. “I looked at it as an eight-month investment – if I didn’t like it, I could move on and pursue something else.”
Turns out she loved it and was very definite that she wanted to enter an agency environment – so that’s what she pursued, despite the fact that her internship was in a corporate setting. She was offered a job afterwards but was determined to work at an agency and politely declined.