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Earlier this year, Choice Properties REIT opened the Toronto Stock Exchange to celebrate its 10-year anniversary as a public company.Provided

Michael Smith, who worked as a plumber for nearly two decades, has always enjoyed building things and seeing projects through from commencement to completion. In his current role as operations manager for Choice Properties REIT, Smith draws on that skill set and passion as he manages properties for this leading real estate investment trust.

“Buildings live and breathe and present new challenges every day,” says Smith. “My background gives me good basic knowledge of how systems are put together and how to manage and troubleshoot.”

Smith also learned the importance of teamwork, something he sees in abundance at Choice Properties.

“These days, I sit in an open workspace where, at any given time, there can be four vice presidents sitting with us,” he says. “All of them are supportive and will collaborate with you. What’s most important here is that everyone is rowing the boat in the same direction.”

Headquartered in midtown Toronto, Choice Properties creates value through the ownership, operation and development of more than 700 commercial and residential properties across Canada.

While the value of its assets is huge – some $18-billion – Choice Properties is a tight-knit company of just 300 employees. That combination provides some unique opportunities, says Simone Cole, vice president, general counsel & secretary.

“This is a vibrant place where people who are still relatively early in their careers can make a major impact and grow exponentially,” says Cole. “There’s tremendous scope and latitude for up-and-comers and we’re a company that’s willing to invest in talent.”

Cole says the tone is set from the top by CEO Rael Diamond. “He is just a gravitational force, someone people want to work with and for,” she says. “He’s incredibly connected to our projects, but he strikes the right balance by empowering employees to exercise judgment and run with their respective projects. He gives his team the ability to soar.”

Smith has been similarly impressed by Diamond’s hands-on management style since joining Choice Properties two years ago. “Any time someone walks by our CEO he remembers their name,” says Smith. “I find that to be very respectful.”

In fact, respect is one of Choice Properties’ CORE values, the other parts of that acronym standing for care, ownership, respect and excellence.

“We all strive for excellence,” says Smith. “No matter how well we’ve done, we always look for ways to improve. Everyone is encouraged to come up with ideas and the company is there to help people challenge themselves and succeed.”

The value of care extends to both employees and the larger community.

“People here really work well together and look out for one another,” says Cole. “We support each another, socialize together and celebrate our strengths.”

At the same time, the company’s Choice Cares program encourages employees to volunteer and fundraise for local charities.

In her case, Cole and other lawyers at Choice Properties volunteered with Pro Bono Ontario, a not-for-profit hotline which provides low-income Ontarians with free legal advice on topics such as housing and employment insecurity.

“Personally and professionally, I think we have an obligation to give back,” says Cole. “I feel exceptionally privileged to be at a company that encourages us to do just that.” Cole is also proud of the company’s strong commitment to addressing climate change and promoting diversity.

“Choice Properties was one of the first companies to set science-based targets for its path to net-zero emissions,” she says. “From the board of directors down to Choice colleagues, we also have diversity targets for visible minorities and women. We are public and accountable about meeting our commitments.”

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Advertising feature produced by Canada’s Top 100 Employers, a division of Mediacorp Canada Inc. The Globe and Mail’s editorial department was not involved.

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