ICC Property Management Ltd.
Year entered the profession: 2012 as a Site Administrator
Year RCM obtained: 2016
Other education: Advertising & Public Relations Diploma
Mentor(s) in the industry: Donald Balla, Crossbridge Condominium Services. Donald was the first Manager I worked with as an Administrator, and we worked together for about one year. The site was an older building with unique challenges. I gained so much knowledge from Donald in that year, and there are things that I learned that I still use every day.
My main takeaway was never to underestimate the value and importance of a good and fair leader.
What path brought you to a career as a condominium manager? I became a member of my condo board in late 2011. I was working part-time and looking for a change. I knew there was a growing demand in the condominium management field, so I had a conversation with the Regional Manager about the industry. A month later, I started working as a Site Administrator at an established building in downtown Toronto. I began taking the first of the RCM training courses that year. Approximately one year later, I began managing my first site, a boutique condominium in Toronto’s historic St. Lawrence Market area.
What is one must-have skill for a condominium manager? Why? Patience. Managers must be patient while boards review, discuss and plan. It can take months or even years for some projects to move from the idea stage through planning to implementation. It can also take weeks or months to find a resolution to resident challenges. Property Managers must be patient and take the time to listen to stakeholders, create an action plan and implement that plan accordingly.
Tell us about a personal success story on the job. At a high-rise building I managed, a resident had reported unwelcome cooking odours in her bathroom,
coming from another suite. This was going on for a couple of years before I had taken over the site and heard about the issue.
By this time, the resident was understandably upset about the issue and the failure of previous managers to find a solution. She felt that she was being disrespected and not believed. I was empathetic while I explained that we would need to tackle the problem step-by-step, and it would take some time. But I reassured her that I
did believe her and took her complaint seriously.
After asking the resident to document the occurrences in a log, we were able to rule out a couple of the surrounding suites. I worked with my contractor to determine if there was fire-stopping missing from around the vertical pipe runs, as this seemed like a possible source. We found some fire-stopping missing, which helped to rule out more neighbouring suites, but the odour issue remained.
It was at this time that we brought in our engineer and did a negative air pressure test. The results showed us that the offending odours were coming from a neighbouring suite’s cooking exhaust vent. The smells were being sucked into the suite from wind vortexes, changes in air pressure, and a defective vent flap. My contractor installed a new vent flap, and the problem was finally rectified.
By tackling the problem professionally and methodically, I was able to resolve the issue and earn the owner’s trust.
What’s your biggest challenge as a manager? The biggest challenge I have found is dealing with a wide variety of personalities. Whether it be an owner, tenant, or board member, Property Managers must sometimes be firm but always empathetic and respectful. We often encounter first-time condo owners who don’t fully understand the basics of condo life, how a condominium operates or their obligations as owners. Management must inform and educate owners and residents of the condo rules and their responsibilities professionally and courteously. Good managers will continue educating their residents and owners with timely seasonal updates on various topics.
What’s your favourite part of the job? My favourite part of the job is the people I meet. As property managers, we are constantly meeting new people: directors, residents, and industry professionals. I am always learning something new from the people I meet. They are from all walks of life, and for me, working in downtown Toronto, I meet people from all over the world. This is very exciting to me personally, as I grew up in a small town where everyone looked the same.
Every day on the job is different. A quick conversation about cleaning the parking garage can turn into an exciting learning experience. What could be more interesting?
Best business advice you ever received? “Don’t get involved in board politics” Brian Horlick LL.B. Directors come and go, boards change annually, and managers must adapt. Good managers lead by example and stay focused on the job at hand: managing the condominium corporation fairly and professionally. We do this by utilizing the tools we have at our disposal: the Condo Act, the declaration and by-laws. As Reveverend Jesse Jackson said, “Leadership has a harder job to do than just choose sides. It must bring sides together.”
Answer this statement – I am an RCM because… I am an RCM because the RCM designation immediately shows others that I’m an industry professional who goes above and beyond what is required of me. Attaining and keeping the RCM designation means additional work and education requirements, but it also demonstrates that I am voluntarily achieving a higher standard for my owners and other stakeholders in the constantly evolving condominium industry.
Where do you see yourself in five years? I hope I am still with ICC. It’s an exciting and progressive company, and they have welcomed me with open arms. I want to continue to grow in my career as a Property Manager. Eventually, I’d like to be managing a more significant site or portfolio of sites or even move on to a more senior role. I am interested in getting more involved in promoting the industry as a whole, and, as a start, I intend to run again for a position on the ACMO Board of Directors.
What recent project that you completed can we highlight? At a high-rise site with a very large underground parking garage (six levels), a contractor was awarded the job (sealed bid tender) of completing repairs to the garage waterproofing membrane, localized concrete-crack injections and some driveway repairs.
Due to the physical layout of the garage and the narrow drive lanes, the membrane portion of the work was going to be challenging and was expected to take about six weeks.
Keeping workers safe, allowing the membrane to cure properly and keeping resident vehicles off of the new membrane during this six-week period was going to be a tough balancing act.
The contractor mentioned that it would be much easier and quicker to do the membrane work if we could just close the garage outright for a couple of days. I took his suggestion to my board of directors, and they agreed with our proposed ‘Short-term pain, for long-term gain’ strategy.
We worked out an action plan and chose a weekend when the work would be done. Communication to owners was key here. I created multiple electronic notices and sent them at various times to ensure that everyone knew exactly what was going to happen and when. Additional notices were posted at all garage entrances and exits, building elevators, and notice boards.
When the time arrived, the contractor started on the P6 level and worked up. Residents knew that they needed to be out of the garage by a set time and could not return until Monday morning. The work was completed several weeks ahead of schedule. All in all, the plan was a massive success.