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At 12, London Web whiz Keith Peiris is youngest Team Canada trekker ever

He's a kid on a (trade) mission

From playing computer games to designing Web sites to hobnobbing with the prime minister, Canada's business elite and foreign leaders.

Yeah, life's interesting when you're 12-year-old Keith Peiris.

New York-based Interep, a sales and marketing company with $1.4 billion in sales, is kicking in most of the $30,000 cost to send its Web designer, Keith, and his father on next month's Team Canada trade mission to China led by Prime Minister Jean Chretien.

"Some people hesitate because he is young. I say: 'Take this kid seriously because he will deliver,'" said Deepal Peiris, Keith's dad.

And Interep takes the boy seriously.

"We weren't hesitant at all to contribute to it," said Victor Lerio, project director for corporate communications. "We really wanted to support Keith.

"(The Team Canada trip) is a great opportunity for him to showcase his work (including Interep.com and InterepInteractive.com). He's a really good role model for the younger generation."

Keith is president and chief executive of Cyberteks Design, a company he co-owns with his mother and runs from the basement of the family's Pond Mills-area townhouse.

He'll be the youngest participant ever in a Team Canada trade mission.

Keith is a self-taught virtuoso in Flash, the latest Web design technology that creates moving images transmitted on narrow bandwidth.

He was the first to respond to Interep's request for Flash Web-design proposals. Father and son went to New York where, Lerio said, Keith had to prove his skills.

A Grade 7 pupil at St. Bernadette Catholic elementary school, Keith said he tries to keep work and school separate.

"If I don't, no good will come of it."

Keith got his first computer as a pre-schooler. "I played games, obviously," he said.

He got involved in Web design in 1999 using free online templates he customized.

"From there I discovered the limitations," he said.

Today, Keith has five part-time employees working from their homes in London and seven commissioned sales people in various centres in the United States.

The trade mission will visit Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong from Feb. 9 to Feb. 18, said Natalie Dube, a spokesperson with the Foreign Affairs and International Trade Department.

Keith's goal on the trade mission "is the same as the other 300 businesspersons going -- to diversify the Canadian economy by closing deals.

"The Canadian economy is completely based on the U.S. economy," he said.

Keith's dad, vice-president of operations, is an accountant who has worked in sales and marketing and was once president of a computer company. He said his son pays him a fair wage to administer the business.

"Still, I have not taken a single decision on my own. He has to learn the process," he said.

Dad sees his role as supporting his son's interests and ambitions.

"But we take our parenting responsibilities seriously. I force him to go to sleep."


2000-01-04


by Shelley Lawson
The London Free Press
Keith Peiris, 12, president and CEO of London Web design firm Cyberteks Design, will be part of the Team Canada trade mission to China and Hong Kong next month.
SUE REEVE The London Free Press



"Some people hesitate because he is young. I say: 'Take this kid seriously because he will deliver.' " -- Deepal Peiris, Keith's dad . . . "We take our parenting responsibilities seriously. I force him (Keith) to go to sleep."

 


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