Cynthia Lim is Chief Operations Officer and Partner at PCI Developments, who has recently transitioned from a long standing role as Chief Financial Officer and Partner as she phases into part-time status after her tenure with the Company beginning in 1988. She’s been an integral part of the Executive Team in growing the company to one of Metro Vancouver’s most reputable real estate developers and investors, specializing particularly in large scale, complex mixed-use projects. Its sister company, Warrington PCI Management, has grown to be the largest commercial Property Manager in B.C.
Cynthia is also a past Board member of CREW Vancouver and is the 2020 recipient of the Association of Women in Finance Lifetime Achievement Award.
Q: Cynthia, thank you for being our new Member Spotlight. You are a past Board Member of CREW Vancouver and are currently participating as a Mentor in the CREW Vancouver Mentorship Program. Can you share what initially drew you to join this network and why you recently decided to become a Mentor?
Thank you for featuring me! My first experience with CREW was about 10 years ago when PCI was approached by the Sponsorship committee. Their mission resonated with me, as I loved the work they were doing to help females enter and progress in commercial real estate. Hence, this was an obvious topic of interest and discussion at our next executive meeting, and it was an easy sell with all the partners — there was unanimous support and we continue to be proud sponsors to this day.
I am excited to be a part of the 2021 Mentorship program as I have been informally coaching others and were open to formally get more involved again after my board role as Director of Finance 2015-2017. Mentoring has always been something I’ve enjoyed doing unofficially, so I thought with my new part-time role, I have a bit more time to reinforce my commitment. I have been matched with a wonderful, young lady and I look forward to fostering a meaningful relationship with her while guiding her along her career path!
Q: You have worked at PCI Developments for over 30 years. Can you share what it was like to develop your career within a rapidly growing company and what you enjoy most about being apart of this team?
I cannot believe it’s already been 32 years…you know they say time flies when you’re having fun, and in this case, it’s certainly been a very eventful and rewarding ride that on reflection, almost feels like the blink of an eye! When I first started with PCI, we were building primarily single commercial buildings, roughly 100,000 – 150,000 sf. Today, we are developing several of the region’s most prominent, complex projects. We have been particularly focused on transit-oriented developments and work with many sophisticated joint venture partners which adds layers of complexity and opportunities for me to grow. It was sometimes a challenge to test my resiliency and creativeness in finding solutions to problems while managing a dedicated accounting team, who by the way, always went above and beyond in helping the Company achieve our goals. As I joined PCI when it was a small merchant developer, it enabled me to be involved in much more than my University background of accounting/finance. I was responsible for Accounting, Tax, Financing, Corporate structuring, Human Resources, and Information Systems. I could not be more grateful for the autonomy given to me.
I love the work I do, but the part I most enjoy is the people and culture. We are always fully committed to our shared strategy and put out 100%, but possess unique opinions which often generates robust discussions. This is fantastic, because at the end of the day, we have the utmost respect for each other and can share our diverse thoughts to come up with the absolute best solution. We know each person brings a different skillset that is very complementary, which makes us a great team. Many of us have worked together for a very long time, so that helps.
Q: If you were asked to give one piece of advice for how to build a successful career or achieve a challenging professional work goal what would it be?
Make sure you are passionate about what you do. It may take some time to truly figure that out, but be patient, be honest with yourself without worrying about what everyone else thinks and learn everything you can along the way. Be sure to be friendly and likable, and expand your network, as you never know how many doors may open through these relationships. When you are working, continuously look for improvement opportunities, whether that be refining processes or creating digital innovations. Employers are always seeking people that are personable, adaptable and forward thinking.
Q: What do you think the biggest benefit is for becoming a member of CREW?
There are so many benefits, but one of the most compelling is networking with other wonderful ladies in commercial real estate and they are now friends for life. When I volunteered to join the Board, that was when I really got to know the exceptional ladies in CREW. We all worked hard and had immense fun doing it, so I highly recommend volunteering on one or more of these committees. It’s an easy way to network when you have a common purpose.
Q: Outside of work, what are some of your hobbies/passions and/or what would a typical Saturday look like for you?
Since COVID, I have been very fortunate to be able to spend most of my weekends with my husband going on beach & nature trail walks, and working out in our home gym. To spice up our routine, sometimes my two adult daughters join us to make it a full family affair. With the four of us, we would play board games and they repeatedly beat us at “Codenames” – they somehow have an innate advantage with their sisterly inner senses!