Today’s Notable Young Professional is Montreal real estate guru Jeff Soliman, who’s involved in some of the city’s most exciting commercial developments. We caught up with him to find out what inspires his work, where he sees himself in five years, and what advice he would share with other young professionals…
Elevator Pitch: Describe your job in a nutshell.
I’m an executive at Group Mach, one of Quebec’s largest and fastest growing commercial real estate owners. I’m in charge of all acquisitions and financings. Basically, I get to buy as many buildings as possible.
Why did you start working at your company? What was the inspiration for this career route?
I’ve always had a passion for real estate developments and beautiful architectural designs. I’m intrigued how land turned into skyscrapers, and was curious to know who owned these massive structures. I decided in college my career will be in real estate and I never looked back.
My objective is to be the best at everything I do. And if you want to be the best, you have to learn with the best. Group Mach to real estate is the Harvard University of all business schools. Vincent Chiara, the Founder of the company, is the most knowledgeable mastermind in the industry. After 15 years in business, Group Mach owns and manages a portfolio worth over a billion dollars and is considered the fastest growing real estate company in Quebec. It didn’t take long for me to realize I had the right mindset to work for this empire.
What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
Best part: Waking up at 5am before everyone else!
This is also the most challenging part.
All jokes aside, the best part of the job is the unknown. There’s something about uncertainty that drives me. I never know what we’re buying next. I never know what kind of problems we’ll run into, but we’re confident enough to know there’s always a solution. It’s also very exciting to end the day knowing you just closed another great deal. Dealing with our sophisticated partners, our great team, and the best professionals in the industry (lawyers, bankers, appraisers, notaries, engineers, brokers) is another perk that makes my job worthwhile.
What is one sign that you’ve seen over the years to suggest that your work/life balance is off?
Real estate is usually the second or third topic of conversation on a first date.
Where do you see yourselves in 5 years?
Career-wise, it’s hard to foresee that far ahead when you accomplish so much in a day doing what you love. Improving my day-to-day is my top priority.
Personally, married with kids… with a beach house on the way!
What is one major challenge that you’ve had to overcome in your career? How did you overcome it?
My age – the gift and the curse! I’m only 28 years old and have been in the industry for eight years already. It’s challenging to reach for the skies when you’re constantly getting shut down because of a lack of experience. I’ve heard all the reasons in the book. But without these setbacks, I would have never pushed for more. I overcame this challenge by standing out and being persistent. Going beyond the call of duty. I offered to work for free to gain knowledge. I must have over a hundred different cover letters and personalized resumes. I simply never gave up. And now, proof is in the pudding; hard work does not go unnoticed.
What does success look like to you? Does Money = Happiness?
I have no idea what success looks like. Success is limitless. Constantly reaching higher levels. For some, it’s the result of a process. To me, the fun part is in the process, much less the result. In other words, I get excited buying a new building, not owning it. The thrill of ownership only lasts a short moment. Any passionate professional will never be satisfied and will always want more. It’s a disease that I proudly live with. If I had to give an answer, success is health and happiness.
Funny enough, I never work for money. I work to gain a wealth of knowledge. So knowledge = happiness. The day I stop exploring my knowledge is the day I’ll be bored and miserable.
What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
My parents taking pride in my accomplishments in light of their combined sacrifices for my sister and myself.
On a deal basis, my biggest milestone was buying the St-James Hotel. There’s only one five-star boutique hotel in Montreal, and we bought it!
Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
The formula is simple: Passion + Hard Work + Loyalty.
Find the best mentor in your industry. Then learn to sit back and listen.
Leverage everyone in your network. It is the only way you will experience exponential growth.
Nothing matters if you don’t take action. So, TAKE ACTION!
Where is your favourite place to wine/ dine in your city and why?
Tough question. Wining and dining is part of the job. I’ll have to categorize, although a great restaurant starts with a great wine list!
Date night: Tapeo
The ultimate answer is a nice home-cooked meal with friends and family and many bottles of wine.
When you’re not working how do you love to spend your “Me” time?
Training at APC. Quality time with family and friends. And, notably, my attire should always be on point – so I’m often shopping for colourful socks and getting my suits fitted.
Where is your favourite place to travel? Why?
Unfortunately I’ve sacrificed travelling outside of North America for my career and education. But I’ve realized that culture from different countries has proven to be a great quality, so I’m determined to travel as much as possible.
If you had to choose a theme song, what would it be?
Big Poppa by Biggie – long story short, when your Egyptian father starts jamming an old rap song, you simply never forget the sound of it.
If you weren’t doing what you’re doing, what would you be doing?
Travelling the world. Exploring different cultures. And supporting less fortunate children.
Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
Considering our position in the industry, we get involved with several charities. Personally, my heart goes out to children. I’ve been very fortunate; blessed to be well supported. So I try to focus on supporting less fortunate children and giving them an equal opportunity to grow their passions. The plan is to one day grow my own charity.
What to you is notable?
Anyone who makes a positive impact towards society within their given capacity.
Blackberry, iPhone, Android, or Other?
I’d like to say other, as in one that can survive longer than 12 months. Currently iPhone.