Executing the Perfect Play

A Culture of Execution
A Culture of Execution

With a background in professional hockey, Kevin Gardner — director of mortgage origination at Canada ICI’s Edmonton office — understands the demands of executing under pressure. After a successful NCAA hockey career at Northern Michigan University, he went on to play professionally in Germany and Denmark, before returning home and signing on with Canada ICI. As it turns out, finding success in professional sports requires many of the same attributes as the commercial mortgage industry does. As Kevin describes it, “my professional hockey background has been the foundation of being able to transition into becoming a better advisor. You have to have determination and resiliency.”

When asked to expand on the comparison between hockey life and commercial real estate, Kevin points out that successfully executing a deal is much like what goes into having a good game on the ice: “Create a plan, stay focused on key deliverables, keep your emotions in check, and focus on what you can control to ensure that plan goes as smoothly as possible. There will always be highs and lows, but at the end of the day, our advisors are tasked with providing certainty of execution to their clients and ensuring the interests of our investors are protected.”

Kevin says the reason Canada ICI is an industry leader is relatively simple: “It comes down to understanding what our clients value, communication, and setting appropriate expectations.” But what about the role of talent; a characteristic ICI employees have in spades? As Kevin explains, “hiring the right people is absolutely crucial,” but there’s more to it than that. “Skills can be taught, but there are certain intangibles that are difficult to simply hire,” he says. “How do you hire for resiliency? How do you hire for the right disposition and attitude? How do you hire for some of the intangibles that are required for a broker role?”

When it comes to those characteristics, to a certain extent, people either have them or they don’t. On the other hand, they can be developed if an employee is immersed in a culture of high performance like Canada ICI. “When I joined the firm seven years ago, my skills may not have been fully refined, but I had some of the other intangibles that could be brought to the table, which allowed me time to develop my craft,” Kevin explains. “You need to understand the person to ensure that their personality fits the specific role.”

Whether it is finding your stride on the ice or bringing your A-game as a mortgage advisor, Kevin knows that contributing to a high-performing culture means continually improving necessary skills and providing the very best for clients and investors.