“My career in real estate was really by accident,” is a phrase you don’t often to hear, but that’s the case for Sherif Samy. His love of analyzing numbers initially propelled him toward a career in stocks and investment, and he studied economics and accounting at Wilfrid Laurier University in Ontario. Soon he realized that real estate asset management combined his interest in analyzing stats with understanding the story behind the numbers, and so his career took a turn.
Today Sherif, who holds certified public accountant (CMA), certified management accountant (CMA), and Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA) designations is an associate, asset management with Triovest in Toronto, where he focuses on retail real estate. He is also a recent graduate NAIOP Certificate of Advanced Study in Real Estate Finance program, based upon the completion of courses covering core competencies in real estate finance.
NAIOP: What do you see as the future of commercial real estate? How is the industry changing?
Samy: From a Canadian standpoint, I believe we are well into a trend where commercial tenants want less gross leasable area (GLA) space, with a shift toward downsizing office space and offering greater options for working remotely. Where there are larger companies looking to downsize, I also see startup companies slowly coming in to fill in the excess supply. I do see a combination of factors happening in the office environment.
NAIOP: What are some of the most rewarding aspects of working in this industry? What makes it exciting and challenging?
Samy: I work in asset management on the retail side, and what I enjoy most is that every day is something different. My role requires me to put myself in the shoes of all sorts of real estate professionals, overseeing leasing, construction, property management, accounting and more, so I am constantly learning and pushing myself. What I find pretty cool about my job is I get to work with industry veterans that have been in the industry for 25 years or more, and the wealth of knowledge I can get absorb from them is something that I know will take me a while to learn on my own.
NAIOP: Why did you pursue a NAIOP certificate, and how has it helped you professionally?
Samy: The issues and topics covered in the courses that lead to a NAIOP certificate can be applied to any real estate asset. I like to say that, “I don’t know what I don’t know,” and so taking the NAIOP certificate helped me broaden my understanding of real estate in general.
NAIOP: What advice would you offer to rising professionals in commercial real estate?
Samy: My advice to rising professionals in the industry to keep pushing and challenging yourself. There is always something to learn so try to keep an open mind about everything. Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions if you don’t know something – it’s the greatest way to learn.
Kathryn Hamilton, CAE, is Vice President for Marketing and Communications at NAIOP Corporate.