Success Starts with a Spark and an Opportunity
After 20 years at TD Bank, Marg Sebzda thought that her career journey had essentially reached its destination. “I just figured banking was my career, and that I was going to die being a banker,” Marg recalls. However, when the branch Marg worked at closed, she turned down TD Bank’s offer to transfer her to a different one. Instead, she called one of her longtime banking clients who repeatedly asked her to come work for him — Canada ICI founder Dale Klein — who set her up with a new career as an analyst.
Even though Marg didn’t have any specific experience in the commercial mortgage industry, she did have two decades of experience in finance from working at TD Bank. More importantly, Dale saw something in her. “Dale liked the fact that when he asked me to do something, I was very proactive,” Marg explains. “I got on it right away, and I called him back with answers to his questions. He liked that work ethic in me. He just figured I’d probably be a fit for what I do.”
Once Marg got her start at Canada ICI in 1996, she began to climb the ladder to becoming a senior director for the firm. For her first three months though, she spent her time making the physical books that ICI used to put together for loan packages. “We actually made physical books that we had to bind. We had to go take pictures of properties, and along with the write up about the financing we were seeking, put them all together in these books It was extremely tedious work,” she says.
“I said to Dale that if this is all it’s going to be, I’m sorry, but it’s not going to work for me; I need to be challenged. He said if you want a challenge, no problem.”
From there, Marg took on an advisory role, working closely with borrower and investor clients directly, as her role started to shift toward brokerage. Dale took Marg under his wing, giving her a desk in his office to better assist her in developing her brokerage skills. “In 1999, Canada ICI bought a servicing company called ICI Mortgage Managers, which was in Toronto,” Marg recalls. “Dale was on the road a lot for about four or five months.” With Dale juggling multiple priorities throughout the country, Marg assumed the responsibility of managing his clients, which led to her becoming a broker herself.
Today, Marg has funded over $4 billion in commercial mortgage transactions. “To me, it doesn’t matter how big the deal is,” she explains. “I just love doing deals that help my clients.” In addition, Marg also has two associates working with her in her office that she enjoys mentoring. “I love watching them flourish and get more confident in what they’re doing. That’s what I really enjoy about my job.”
Marg says that the most challenging aspect of her career back when she started is still the most difficult hurdle today. “I’m a woman in a very male-dominated world,” she says. One major difference in this regard was the expansion of the Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) Network into Edmonton in 2010. Marg now regularly attends CREW’s monthly functions in Edmonton, which she says give her “a good shot in the arm of female companionship” with fellow commercial real estate professionals.
At the end of the day, Marg is glad she switched careers to come work for ICI 22 years ago. After two decades as a banker, she was ready for a new challenge. “I don’t have any regrets,” Marg says. “I’m happy with what I do. I work hard, and my clients appreciate it.”