By Eunice Wong, EY Transaction Real Estate
As an active member of ULI Toronto and an emerging leader under 35, Fabienne Chan’s passion for city building has not gone unnoticed. In ULI Toronto, she is known for having played an essential role within the Communications Committee, helping to grow the organization’s presence, both online and offline. In the industry, Fabienne is known for her former position as a market analyst at residential market data firm Urbanation and as a founding member of #SitTO, a campaign that advocates for more seating in Toronto’s public spaces.
Despite only receiving her Bachelor’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning at Ryerson University less than 3 years ago, Fabienne’s resume is anything but short on accomplishments. Her social media acumen and genuine enthusiasm for city building has promoted the online presence for multiple organizations, including the Canadian Association of Planners (CAPS) and its 30th anniversary conference in February 2014. While Fabienne was the social media and marketing representative at CAPS, the conference hashtag (#CAPS30) became a national trending topic on Twitter for the first time in the organization’s history. As an undergraduate student and an active member of ULI Toronto, she received the Joseph Lebovic Award and the A.S.M. Pound Planning Scholarship, both recognizing her remarkable commitment to urban planning and development.
During her undergrad, Fabienne was invited by a friend to attend an information session for ULI Toronto. It was from this session back in 2012 that spurred Fabienne’s growing interest in the real estate and development world. Recognizing ULI Toronto’s student learning and networking opportunities, Fabienne landed a role as the senior student liaison for Ryerson University.
“ULI Toronto opened up the door to the world of real estate development for me,” she says. “It breaks you out of your academic silo and offers invaluable perspectives that can shape your career path. I cannot think of a better way for a student to be introduced to and engaged in the industry than by volunteering for ULI.”
As one of the youngest volunteers at ULI Toronto, Fabienne was a prominent and integral member of the Communications Committee. Taking on the management of ULI Toronto’s Twitter account (@ULIToronto), Fabienne increased and promoted the organization’s online presence. Now, @ULIToronto has over 3,000 followers and, on a national scale, is considered to have the most live tweets and retweeted events. She has helped elevate ULI Toronto’s online profile through her knowledge and experience in engaging in meaningful conversations through the social network. Her communication and social networking competencies piloted her development of the ULI Toronto social media guidelines that are still widely used today in the Communications Committee and have also been recognized by Patrick Phillips, Global CEO of ULI.
At the 2013 ULI Summer Social, Fabienne met Pauline Lierman, Director of Market Research at Urbanation, a connection that eventually led her to be hired as a research analyst with the firm, a recognized industry leader in residential market intelligence in the Greater Toronto Area. Within her two and a half years at Urbanation working alongside a highly efficient and compact team, Fabienne recognized the magnitude of data usage in the city building industry. She notes that a key takeaway from her experience at Urbanation was that inherent in the data is the ability to tell a story.
An interest in big data led Fabienne to complete a certificate in Data Analytics, Big Data, and Predictive Analytics from Ryerson University. Her capstone project took parking ticket information from City of Toronto’s Open Data catalogue and geocoded it to identify geospatial trends in ticket issuance. From her post on Medium, Fabienne notes that the issuance of parking tickets has declined 24% from 2008 to 2015, while highlighting converging trends from urbanization, growing popularity of other modes of transportation (for example, walking, biking, public transit, Uber), and declining car ownership.
When asked what her next step is, Fabienne says she will continue to seek opportunities geared towards city-building, with a focus on big data and building better cities. Currently, she has accepted a job offer as a Planner/Real Estate Analyst at NBLC.
Fabienne remains loyal to Toronto and says living anywhere else would be unimaginable. Born in the city, she acknowledges that Toronto’s strong support for diversity gave her the strength to come out as an LGBT youth. In her June 2016 post in TOmillenials.ca, Fabienne describes Toronto as “eclectic, full of people unapologetically embracing themselves, their identities, their passions.”
Her efforts toward making Toronto a better city have not been limited to her ULI involvement. Fabienne is also one of 10 founding members of #SitTO, an urban initiative that aims to address the lack of public seating in Toronto. In an attempt to change the stigma associated with loitering and public seating, the group staged urban interventions with their Ikea chairs at Nathan Phillips Square and other prominent public spaces across downtown Toronto. #SitTO has since been featured in the Toronto Star and UrbanToronto. On January 6, 2017, TO Transportation tweeted with the #SitTO hashtag that over 1,330 new pieces of furniture (including 206 benches) were being installed across Toronto in a partnership with the City and Astral Media. The TVO documentary “The Life-Sized City”, a global television series focused on highlighting examples of urbanism in global cities, will feature Fabienne and #SitTO in September 2017.
Fabienne is an active role model for not only emerging leaders, but all professional women. A strong advocate of Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In” philosophy, she pledges to help young women in their careers. Humbled by the opportunities and challenges that shaped her own career, she recalls that “you don’t forget where you came from.” Her mentorship from industry professional, Stephen Job, was crucial in shaping her professional development and something she strives to pass forward. As an avid networker, Fabienne’s advice to emerging leaders and young professionals is “fake it until you make it.” Understanding that the first step is simply to show up, she expresses support for those struggling to step out of their comfort zone. “If you are comfortable, you are not growing,” she says.
Fabienne points out that ULI Toronto’s growth has been directly aligned with how Toronto has been growing as a city, recognizing that the events and networking sessions truly reflect the direction of city building issues that Toronto faces. As she finishes her certificate program, Fabienne looks forward to her continued involvement with ULI Toronto, while bringing new skillsets to the table. Despite the fact that it has only been about three years since Fabienne graduated, she has already made significant strides as an emerging leader in Toronto’s real estate and development industry.
TOmillennials.ca article: http://tomillennials.ca/diversity-our-strength/