The Real Estate and Housing Student Association (REHSA) hosted an amazing event on Wednesday. Billed as “An Evening with Industry”, students, alumni, faculty and friends of the program met at a hotel in downtown Toronto, looked at the past 20 years of both our major and the industry, and looked to the future.
The location, the wine and the dinner were excellent but the main attraction was the panel discussion packed with industry leaders:
- Stephen Diamond (President and CEO, Diamond Corp.)
- Michael Emory (President and CEO, Allied REIT)
- John Gillander (Principal, Sweeny and Co. Architects Inc.)
- John O’Bryan (Chairman, CBRE Ltd.)
- Stephen Sender (Managing Director, Scotiabank)
- Glenn Way (Vice President, GWL Realty Advisors Inc., and a UG graduate)
They offered perspective and advice to people about to enter the industry. (It being the 201Xs, pictures and important comments were posted to Twitter immediately.)
Several references were drawn to the early 1990s, since our major started during a time of great change; many outstanding companies have disappeared from the landscape since then. So, there is no room to be complacency.
The most provocative insights on the current state of the residential market might have been on young people wanting to start families and live downtown. If true then the looming problem will not be excess building of condo (which attracts so many headlines today) but that too few larger units are being built (Diamond). In the office market, the looming puzzles concerned “productivity per square foot” and managing the “four generation workplace” (O’Bryan).
Words of advice to the graduating class deserve to be remembered:
- Since facts are now easy to find, the people who will go furthest are those who are trained to think (Emory)
- Career-oriented education offer a non-traditional mix of theory and practical skills
- Join a company with a good culture even if your first job with them is not what you were hoping for (Way)
- Business life (even in the real estate business) is about people.
I have never seen a student-organized event like this before. The sponsors deserve a big “thank you” for their support but spending money is easy. The harder task is to spend money effectively and this broad cross-section of people benefited from the hospitality and the thoughtful discussion. I am sure that the students in the audience recognized the networking opportunities.
This event shows how far people can progress after arriving on campus as a teenager a couple of years ago. It suggests how far they will go.