Kristine, you have worked in various development-focused roles since graduating from Sauder. Could you tell us what initially drew you towards development? What is your favourite thing about it?
I started my career as a Development Coordinator with Matthew Carter (former President at Great Northern Way Trust and Principal at MGC Projects). I was part of Matthew's team that delivered the new SFU building at 308 West Hastings at the corner of West Hastings & Hamilton (now known as the Charles Chang Innovation Centre). I learned so much through that process and had the opportunity to be hands on through the entire lifecycle - from acquisitions, design, approvals to construction & completion.
What I enjoy about working in development is the need to adapt with a constantly changing environment – external and internal forces are constantly shifting and evolving so it keeps things interesting. I love the intersection of expertise from so many different disciplines – which I think pushes me to expand my knowledge in so many directions. It is impossible to be an expert in everything so I love being able to work closely with so many different skillsets from start to finish, getting everyone to where we need to be. It requires you to put on a lot of different hats and deal with many different types of problems. I enjoy the challenge of working on this broad spectrum in making meaningful buildings.
Now you're at The Salient Group. Tell us about Salient and what sets it apart from the "typical" developer in Vancouver?
I've always been fortunate enough to work in unique organizations with great leadership and Salient isn't an exception to this. We're a pretty small and fairly flat organization so maybe that makes us kind of unique.
Everyone associates Salient and Robert Fung with heritage redevelopment and restoration, and it's because we have such a rich history and portfolio of experience with heritage properties. Heritage isn't the only thing that we do but it is definitely a passion of ours.
I would characterize The Salient Group as an opportunity-driven developer that focuses on the creation and restoration of vibrant communities in urban environments. We're big proponents of adaptive reuse projects to sensitively grow and create new activity in underutilized neighbourhoods, and redevelopment opportunities in urban settings to do the same.
Something that most people don't know is that we are also an asset manager, and we created a property management company, Servissio Property Services, to manage the buildings that we develop to the standard that we have promised to our tenants. We see this as being critical to the genuine success of our buildings within the context of the communities we are invested in – because we can curate commercial tenancies that create the most holistic value for the asset, not just financially, but also for the neighourhood. We maintain and manage buildings to a higher level of customer service without being dependent on a third party to do so.
When did you get involved with CREW and what inspired you to join? Can you share with us what you have gained since joining?
I've been involved with CREW for about three years now and am currently the Membership Committee Chair. I first became involved with CREW through two prominent CREW members and former volunteers – Mandy Newton, a past President of CREW, and Julia Bennett, the former Membership Committee Chair. I was fortunate enough to have worked with both of these great women and their involvement with the organization inspired me get involved too.
Since joining CREW, my network within our industry has grown significantly. It has also translated directly to new resources, new consultants and new project opportunities. I would say that being a part of CREW has advanced my career in several ways. This all comes with a caveat – you get from the CREW what you put into it – and I haven't reached a ceiling for what that limit is yet. If your goal is to create more connections, then you have to put the effort into attending events and being involved. But the opportunities are all there for you to take advantage of for yourself and to support the advancement of other women in the industry.
Speaking of what you have gained since joining CREW, you attended the CREW Network Convention recently on September 25-27th in Orlando, Florida! Could you share some of your key takeaways with us?
Yes! I was one of the three lucky scholarship recipients and am still excited to talk about my experience at the CREW Network Convention.
First of all, I want to thank CREW Vancouver for the opportunity. It was an incredibly empowering experience filled with opportunities to develop my personal and professional growth. Whether you're there to build your knowledge base in a specific area, create new connections and expand your professional network globally, or to explore a new city from a CRE lens – the convention was structured to create an environment for all delegates to thrive and get the most out of their experience.
I appreciated the caliber of speakers and sessions, and also the emphasis that CREW Network puts on creating new business with other delegates. Over the course of the 3-day conference I made connections across North America and I look forward to continuing to build my professional relationships through the CREW Network. I'd be more than happy to share my experience with anyone looking to attend a future CREW Convention.
Ok, last question. What's the best professional advice you've ever received? What does it mean to you?
I don't know if it's the best advice I've ever received but something that's definitely stuck with me. I was once told that regardless of your geographical location, real estate is a small industry and what you do, how you interact with others and how you carry yourself will stay with you for your entire career. So be gracious while doing good business and don't burn your bridges. Maintaining good infrastructure is usually better than building from scratch.