DNA CRE_Dallas Wingerak

DNA of a Commercial Real Estate Leader
Interview with Dallas Wingerak

Dallas Wingerak is the Vice President of Real Estate and Operations, Western Canada for Choice Properties REIT. Almost two years into the role, she previously held the role of VP of Facilities, Development and Real Estate at Calgary Co-Operative Association Limited from 2011 until 2013 and previously worked as a Senior Director of Real Estate at Loblaw Properties West Inc. Dallas has over 20 years of experience in broad range of urban planning matters working for both government and industry. She began her career in urban planning working for towns and regional districts in the interior of British Columbia and for the City of Airdrie, Alberta.

VP Real Estate & Operations - Western Canada at Choice Properties REIT

Have you always aspired to becoming a VP in commercial real estate?

I started thinking more about it as I approached mid-career. I didn’t have specific aspirations before senior director level, but I really enjoyed the work and found a passion for it. I didn’t always know it was an option that was available to me until some of the senior people that I worked with started to talk to me about my future and give me the confidence that I was capable of working in a leadership capacity. This continues in my role today.

What is your advice to someone who is moving up the ranks in the field and wants to pursue a management/executive career?

As my career has advanced, I have started to act in more of a mentorship role with my own team and others in my industry, and my advice to people is to give yourself the time to really dedicate yourself to your job. Learn, put in the hours and take every opportunity to take on additional responsibilities and to complete the tasks that need to be done. Find someone in the industry or your organization that will to give you feedback and guidance.

Having mentors and coaches around you is critical. But having said that, at the end of the day it comes down to hard work and a good attitude.

What is the one thing you have to have to be a VP in commercial real estate in your opinion?

There are several of basic building blocks that you must have to be a leader in CRE, but for me the top thing is having strong communication skills and the ability to connect with people. This has to be two-way communication, not just the ability to speak well in public or in meetings, which is one way or dictating. Our whole business is made up of different people doing different things and if you can’t connect with people then you won’t be able to build teams that are fully engaged. Ultimately it’s the team that gets the work done, not one individual. You might be able to get work done on your own, but a truly effective leader builds teams which get the work done together.

How important has networking been in your career?

Network is everything and relevant in all aspects of your work life. Your network extends to your own department, your own organization, and right across your industry. It’s not just about who you know, it’s also your reputation among the people that you network with.

Building and maintaining business relationships has led me to every role that I have held. In every interaction you have with people, you should treat them with the same level of respect and dignity, whether it’s the CEO or the janitor. When people call me and ask me for information or assistance, I always strive to do whatever I can to help, when you approach life and work with that attitude, it will come back to you.

Has social media changed how networking works now?

I think it is an important tool in the networking tool kit if it is used effectively. However, I think that people must be mindful to project the image of the job you want to move toward, and always act in a way which is professional, whether it is in a social media forum or in person. If you want to be a VP, you had better be acting as one.

All of that being said, it is still important to make personal connections, both by speaking directly by telephone or more importantly with face to face interactions.

What advice would you give to the next generation of professionals aspiring to become a property leader?

Do your job 110% every day and listen more than you speak.(opens news window) Overall, leadership is really about work ethic and the ability to connect with people and build effective teams to deliver outcomes.

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