Having joined ULI Toronto as a young professional new to the real estate profession and not sure where I wanted to end up in the field, I knew this was a step in the right direction. After graduating in 2010 from York University with a bachelor in Finance, I waded into real estate by managing properties for several friends and family. Since being naturally drawn to working with people, I felt that it would be a great fit to join ULI and from the very first event I volunteered in, I quickly realized the broad scope of the organization and its extensive network of professionals. I was encouraged by Alexandra Ryback and Erin Carroll to join the Mentorship Program and am grateful to them that I did.
The initial ice breaker event was very exciting, a chance to meet over a dozen real estate industry professionals from a range of backgrounds, ideal for someone new in the industry trying to find what interests them. I was lucky to be matched with Nasim Adab, an architect, designer, and planner who started at Urban Strategies and has since moved onto the City of Toronto’s planning department. The open-ended framework for the mentorship program allowed us to make the program our own and contour it to the goals and objectives we set out to achieve. With my interest in city planning we delved right into the planning process, how Toronto has taken shape, what the guidelines for development generally are, and how to best use the public resources on the City of Toronto website. Thereafter we followed up with walking tours of specific neighborhoods that Nasim had been a part of the team which put the design and planning into place. Nasim would provide me with some online resources to do some research prior to our walking tour to enhance my understanding of the opportunities and challenges in revitalization projects such as Alexandra Park, Regent Park and the King-Spadina Corridor. After doing my research, the walking tour brought the project to life as I was able to see the planning objectives and guidelines and how they would enhance an area that was to be revitalized, like Alexandra Park, and manifested in a partially completed project like Regent Park.
Continuing to broaden my understanding of the ways Toronto has taken shape, Nasim introduced me to a series of books and films that were excellent introductory materials to the planning field. Works in particular by Jan Ghel, the renowned Danish architect and urban design consultant based in Copenhagen whose career has focused on improving the quality of urban life by re-orienting city design towards the pedestrian and cyclist (and one of Nasim’s favourite architects and planners), were very engaging and gave me a basis for understanding the field. We attended several ULI events together and had discussions about the ideas expressed and implications of them. Given our different backgrounds — Nasim in planning and design and I in real estate sales — gave us a broad range of perspectives to analyze proposed guideless and regulatory frameworks and critique them based on what property buyers and sellers are really concerned with when purchasing properties.
All in all, the Mentorship Program was an excellent experience to say the least. Since working with Nasim I have gone on to apply for a Masters in Planning at Ryerson University. I would highly recommend the ULI Mentorship Program to anyone looking to broaden their industry perspective, expand their network of professionals, and seek personal growth. Thank you ULI Toronto and Nasim!
Mentor: Nasim Adab
From the very first time that I started acting as a mentor, I learned about the joy behind this experience. Before becoming a mentor, I came to realize that the most invaluable things I learned were transferred to me through my seniors, who voluntarily shared their professional experiences. I understood the importance of passing one’s knowledge to the younger generations, which is not only in favour of the individuals, but also in favour of the profession, as well as the society. If one becomes better in what they do, the impact can go a long way. This eye-opening realization motivated me to start acting as a mentor and help young professionals find their ways to success much faster and easier.
Last year, I came across ULI Toronto’s Mentorship Program and found it a great opportunity to get in touch with young professionals who are motivated, enthusiastic and willing to become better and better at what they do. I applied for the program and got paired with my mentee, Bahador Khani, in April 2013.
Bahador works in real estate and as I expected he was a keen and determined individual who was eager to learn about urban planning, urban design and the process of related projects. Bahador’s attitude encouraged me to attend our sessions eagerly and educate myself throughout the year.
During my mentorship with Bahador, I realized it was not a one-way learning experience, but an environment with the opportunity for mutual learning. Bahador shared a lot of interesting information about real estate with me, and his point of views about urban planning coming from fresh eyes were inspiring and stimulating.
Bahador and I had regular sessions, talked about different projects, urban planning and design, opportunities and constraints in cities, policies, guidelines, zoning, land use, built form, heritage, and so on. I have to say that I am very happy I applied for this program and had the chance to meet Bahador. Our professional relationship definitely does not end here. We decided to continue this relationship and give ourselves the opportunity to continue learning from each other in the future as well.