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Tim is really excited for this week’s guest. He somehow managed to convince the President of BOMA Toronto to join him on this edition. Susan Allen has a ton of experience in building management, including a decade at Cadillac Fairview. Tim’s been super-impressed with her work ethic for a long time and was thrilled when she agreed to appear on the show.
Susan has been in the industry for a little over twenty years. She worked at TD Centre for about eight years and later was asked to move over to the retail side of the business. Her first property was at Woodbine Centre which was a faltering shopping mall in Etobicoke. She managed to turn the place around and learned a lot about retail in the process. Moving from commercial to retail was very different. The commercial world is a lot more buttoned-down and corporate. Woodbine depended on a lot of small businesses with very different expectations. Tim gets to brass tacks right away.
“Who pays their rent better? Retail or commercial?” He asks point blank.
Susan is very diplomatic in her answer. She says big corporate retailers are pretty easy to deal with because they are so stable. The smaller mom and pop operations are often struggling and that meant Susan had to make accomodations for them.
Susan had already worked with BOMA for more than a decade before she came over to work as President. She had left her position at Cadillac Fairview to get her MBA. Shortly after the President of BOMA left and she was asked to take over.
“Is BOMA an old boys club?” Tim asks.
When he was more involved with the organization he found it to be a pretty insular place. Susan says they have worked very hard to change that. Every member can apply for any position now and they will all be guaranteed at least an interview. BOMA has also been working hard to open the organization to younger professionals.
“Do women get paid less than men?” Tim asks.
Susan says she hasn’t experienced that in her career, with the caveat that she has worked with two great companies over the years. These days top talent is in such high demand that she would be shocked if it was pervasive practice.
“It just doesn’t make any business sense.” She says.
Tim wraps up the conversation by asking if she works more or less hours since moving to BOMA. Her husband asked the same question. She says she’s just not wired that way. She’s always working to raise the bar higher.
“You’re a total powerhouse.” Tim says.