By Sienna Richardson-Isberg, Anthem Properties
Members of CREW Vancouver receive exclusive access to the CREW Mentorship Program, a program designed to pair young and experienced professionals, who work in similar sectors of the real estate industry, together for a mentorship opportunity. Each year, program organizers meet with members to carefully select mentor and mentee pairings based on personality fit and relationship that they believe will be mutually beneficial. Participants are provided with questions, points of conversation and tips for how to get the most out of the mentorship program.
CREW recently sat down with 2018 mentor-mentee pair, Krystal Smith and Bahareh Tabar, and asked them to reflect upon their experience. Here’s what they had to say…
Krystal Smith, Director of Business Development at Stuart Olson Construction Ltd.
Bahareh Tabar, Associate at Avison Young
Q and A with Krystal (mentor) and Bahareh (mentee)
Can you tell us a bit about yourselves and your current roles?
Krystal: I am the Director of Business Development at Stuart Olson Construction Ltd. for BC, which is a national, publicly traded construction firm. We build commercial and institutional buildings with notable experience in office buildings, retail, healthcare, post-secondary, and municipal facilities. As Director of Business Development, I lead the growth strategy and pursuit of projects ranging from $20-250 million for the province, building relationships with clients, partners and rallying our team to win new projects. 2018 was my first year as a volunteer CREW mentor and prior to that I had participated in the program as a mentee.
Bahareh: I am a graduate of the BCIT Professional Real Estate Program pursuing my passion for commercial real estate. I started a new role in January of 2018 as an Associate in the Office Division of Avison Young after spending 2 years with Orange Group Commercial Real Estate, specializing in Tenant Representation. I am a member of Avison Young’s top brokerage team and focus on developing long-term corporate relationships with prominent office tenants. I believe the quality of an office space impacts productivity and morale, and I am determined to help companies find the best space to suit their needs. 2018 was my first year as a CREW mentee.
What interested you in the CREW Mentorship program?
Krystal: It’s a good connection point. I believe it is important to support fellow female business leaders. The program provides an opportunity to learn about each other’s experience and viewpoint within the commercial real estate industry.
Bahareh: I’m in the second year of my career. When you first start your career it’s important to soak it all in and learn and then as you continue to grow, it’s important to find someone who you can sit down and connect with that is completely neutral and easy to talk to.
I believe that the second or third company you work for is one that you should stay at for a while so taking my career to that next level and making the right choices is important. Krystal is experienced in working for a large firm and dealing with many different brokerages so she could provide a unique, unbiased perspective.
In our busy industry, how do you find the time to connect?
Krystal: Do it whatever way works best for you. Whether it’s a quick breakfast in the morning, lunch, or after work pow wow. I’ve even heard that one mentor liked to go on power walks during lunch with their mentee – walk and talk.
Outside of CREW, how have you found mentors and fostered relationships?
Krystal: You can often find informal mentors amongst your colleagues. It’s so valuable to gain insight from people who’s done it before – even in casual conversations.
Bahareh: Approach unofficial mentors. If you simply ask people in the industry as it relates to your role, “who should I sit down and get advice from?”, they’ll often be happy to point you in the right direction. I’ve even sat down with competitors. At first, I thought it would be uncomfortable to sit down with competitors, but I think senior leaders in our industry are happy to share insight and advice with our generation.
How should you focus your time together to get the most out of it?
Krystal: Ask a lot of questions. I like to know where people came from and how they got there. If you’re a mentee, ask how people moved from one step to the next. You both should commit your time and come together with the mindset of wanting to help one another. Plan to make time for each other.
Bahareh: I think it’s really important before your first meeting to brainstorm with yourself to understand what you’re trying to achieve through this relationship. Set out a purpose. As you don’t want to be wasting someone’s time, I think you need to do a lot of ground work and research before you go into the first meeting. Outline goals and struggles. Lay it out for your mentor.
What has been the greatest benefit of CREW for you?
Krystal: Strengthening connections and building friendly relationships with other women in the industry. CREW is actually just fun too – it’s good to connect and support each other!
Bahareh: The CREW Mentorship Program – the structure of it. Because you only have 1 year with your mentor, you are pushed to think harder and actually move forward.
Finally, any advice you can impart to women who may be looking to join the real estate industry?
Krystal: Really focus on learning and learning quickly in whatever role you are in. It’s about being a sponge. It’s about doing everything you can to help your organization move forward and being a team player. As long as you’re focused on the end goal, don’t think anything is above or below you.
Bahareh: Specialize in what you do. Stick to it. Become the master of it. Also, reputation means everything.
Both Krystal and Bahareh intend to continue their involvement in the CREW Mentorship Program in 2019.