YPDaily: Shamez Virani

Shamez Virani has an undergraduate business degree (HBA) from Richard Ivey School of Business at Western and a MBA with a concentration in real estate from Columbia University, which set him up perfectly for his position as Senior Associate at CentreCourt Developments. That’s not all, though. Find out how 15 minutes changed Shamez’s life just before graduating in today’s YPDaily…

Elevator Pitch: Describe your job in a nutshell.  
CentreCourt Developments is in the business of high-rise condo development in downtown Toronto. Working within a lean development team, I have the unique opportunity of being directly involved in all major aspects of our business including finance, development, marketing, sales and construction. In one afternoon I could sit down with a marketing firm to debate the marketing campaign for an upcoming launch, and then meet with our interior designers to discuss suite layouts and finishes.     

Why did you start working at your company? What was the inspiration for this career route?  
Since I was old enough to have career aspirations, I’ve dreamt of being a real estate developer. During my childhood, my parents owned a few rental properties, and I would get involved with these properties by shoveling the sidewalks and mowing the lawns.  Also, my mom tells me that from an early age, I would go silent and focus intensely whenever we drove past a construction site. 

Just before graduating from Columbia about a year and a half ago, a good friend of mine that knew what I was looking for put me in touch with Andrew Hoffman, the President and Founder of CentreCourt. I sent Andrew a cold e-mail requesting a 15-minute informational meeting. That 15-minute discussion turned into an incredible hour conversation about life, family and real estate. Sitting here today a year and a half later, I can genuinely say that meeting has changed my life.

What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part? 
Although everyone talks about all the cranes in the sky, what many people don’t appreciate about Toronto is the fact that no other city in the world is developing the quality and quantity of condos that we are developing here in Toronto. So for a young guy like me to get the chance to work with the world’s best architects, interior designers, marketing firms, brokerage firms and PR agencies is truly a dream come true.

The most challenging part for me is learning the development and construction side of the business. With a background in business and finance, most areas relating to zoning, design and construction are foreign territory to me. Fortunately, we have an incredible amount of in-house expertise as well as best-in-class consultants – I’m fortunate to be in such a great learning environment.   

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I can’t imagine leaving what I’m doing at CentreCourt, but I would love for our firm to someday work on a landmark mixed-use development similar to the Time Warner Centre in New York City or the recently-opened Shard building in London. Toronto is headed in that direction and I would love to be part of bringing a project of that stature to our city.  

What does success look like to you?
Health, happiness and prosperity in my life and the lives of those that I care most about.  I know that sounds cliché, but I really think it’s just that simple.  

What is the most memorable milestone in your career? 
The past year has been filled with incredible milestones for CentreCourt that I take a great deal of pride in. We have had the great fortune of being involved in the three most successful condo project launches over the past twelve months – Peter Street, Karma and INDX condos. Between these three projects, we’ve sold over 1,600 units or roughly 95% of all the units that we have released. On the back of this sales success, we’ve been able to start construction at Peter Street and Karma, and are on track to start construction at INDX early next year. Even in a hot market like Toronto, these achievements are truly incredible.

Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
The best piece of advice that I’ve ever received is to embrace calculated risk in order to follow your dreams. I left a comfortable “dream job” at Goldman Sachs in order to pursue my aspirations in real estate. At the time, many of those closest to me thought I was crazy but I’ve never looked back and could not imagine being happier with my career than I am today. 

Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you? 
One of the key philosophies of CentreCourt is charitable giving. When I joined the firm, I was offered the unique opportunity to get involved with a charitable initiative that Andrew had created called Hold’em for Life Charity Challenge. Hold’em is an organization focused on raising funds for cancer research through industry-focused poker events. Since joining the Hold’em volunteer team I’ve played a key role in planning three different events that have collectively raised over two million dollars. 

What to you is notable? 
Jarome Iginla and the Calgary Flames (my hometown hero and team). 

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