Building Out and Digging Deep
Ever since he graduated from Simon Fraser University, Nate knew that commercial real estate was right for him. “My peers, who were a few years my senior, were all in the construction, commercial real estate, and the engineering world,” Nate recalls. “I was intrigued about the industry right out of university.” He got his foot in the door of the industry at a multi-national commercial real estate brokerage, working on a team that was specifically focused on land transactions.
Nate spent the first few years in that role learning the industry through a real estate equities lens. Throughout that time, he knew there were many challenging and dynamic aspects of the industry to learn. He was just seeing a small piece of the entire puzzle. After a successful 2014 that saw his investment sales team produce a significant amount of volume, Nate knew he was ready to be more entrenched in the world of commercial real estate. He wanted to be involved in a much bigger way. “Just out of pure luck, I ended up meeting Doug Milne — our managing director in Calgary — at an industry event,” Nate says. “We talked a little bit about Canada ICI. I saw their signs everywhere. Actually, a lot of the land sites that we sold were purchased by Canada ICI clients who would later develop the properties on those sites. Canada ICI had a strong reputation in Calgary, and I was intrigued by the possibility of working with them.”
For Nate, the transition from real estate equities into the debt financing sphere was an exciting proposition, especially considering that ICI focused on all parts of the capital stack. “What attracted me to Canada ICI was the fact that they had a wide range of services and financial products that positioned them as an integral advisor to their clients’ programs,” he explains.
“From the very start, developing deal-strategy and all the way through the modelling and underwriting of a transaction, they’re positioned to add a lot of value to developers and investors from day one.”
Nate started at ICI in early 2015 and committed himself to learning the ins and outs of the debt market. “As a broker with a commercial brokerage, it was very transactional in nature. Vendors and purchasers need you and then they don’t,” Nate recalls. “In my current capacity at Canada ICI, I’d say there’s much higher complexity. I am much more vested in our stakeholders’ long-term business strategy. Now, I play an integral role in our clients’ infrastructure, as a valuable resource working to ensure their long-term success.”
One aspect of working at ICI that Nate truly enjoys is the culture, and the comradeship he experiences with his colleagues. “Coming from a large, multinational firm where the organization grew so large that you had sub-cultures within a corporate culture, I was much more attracted to Canada ICI’s organic and grounded culture,” he says. “It wasn’t an artificial kind of corporate ego that was instilled in everybody. It was a real, authentic, winning mindset, with a lot of humour, a lot of fun, where people cared deeply about their team. You have a real sense that people are themselves when they are at work. That was a huge breath of fresh air for me as a young person, to really enjoy the people I was working with, and to look up to the people that I was working for.”
While there’s no question in Nate’s mind that he made the right choice moving to ICI, there was certainly a steep learning curve as he adjusted to the debt industry. “I’m always learning and growing confident in telling the story of Canada ICI, the products and services we provide and how they can be used in a wide variety of situations to people outside the organization and new clients,” he says. “In real estate, there’s an art to it and a science to it. The technical aspects of commercial real estate you can learn over time, but the art of it comes down to who you are, and some of the natural abilities you have. Being such a relationship-driven business, a lot of it comes down to your ability to connect with people, understand their needs, and then deliver on the assignment.”