Careers in Real Estate
Amanda Blacktopp, Manager, Industry Relations (REDI Canada) meets with Lori Suba and Laurae Spindler, of Scout Real Estate and the Leasing Out Loud Podcast to discuss the ways folks “fall into” careers in real estate, the benefits of participating in industry associations, and the role of professional development at any stage of a career in real estate.
This interview is adapted from Leasing Out Loud. Listen to the full episode online: Season 6, Episode 66: Interview with Amanda Blacktopp, Manager Industry Relations @ REDI Canada, released January 8, 2024. Lori Suba and Laurae Spindler, who head Scout Real Estate and are active leaders in Calgary’s leasing market, co-host the Leasing Out Loud podcast.
Amanda, tell us about how you “fell into” your career in real estate.
Most people aren’t aware of the different opportunities available in real estate, or even commercial real estate. For instance, there are so many different facets to commercial real estate, like development, law, architecture, design, or property management.
I was no different. I didn’t go to school for a career in real estate originally. Realistically, when I was first getting interested in real estate, a formalized pathway didn’t exist. Growing up, my grandmother was a realtor. I went to every open house since I could walk, but I didn’t want to be a residential realtor. I didn’t want to work in the evening or depend on a commission.
In 2005, I invested in a rental property and became a landlord. At the time, my full-time role was in event management. Eventually, I decided to leave that industry to focus more on real estate. I started out in residential condominium management, and then I made the move to commercial real estate in 2014. Working in all asset classes with both 3rd party management and institutional landlords, I completed my Real Estate Council of Alberta (RECA) licensing and Certified Property Manager designation. In 2018, I founded YYC Condo Review, assisting condominium buyers in a financial review of their condo prior to purchase.
How have networking and participation in industry associations influenced your professional journey in real estate?
Personally, I believe that industry associations advance our careers and create friendships that can last a lifetime. I am a proud board member of CREW Calgary and a Government Affairs Committee member with BOMA. I often wish there was more time to spare for industry involvement. When someone asks me how to get the most out of their career, I always recommend participating on a committee. You are forced to think outside your comfort zone, meet new people, and, sometimes, if you’re lucky, make a difference in the industry.
REDI’s approach to learning reinforces the value of building a network and making industry connections. The in-person Real Estate Development Leadership (REDL) program provides practical exposure to active leaders, Canadian content, and interactive projects. Learners network with their peers and get valued face-time with our instructors. These courses are not held in large lecture halls where the instructor doesn’t know you. Each course is conversational and driven by experience and idea sharing.
It is no secret that the last of Canada’s baby boomer generation will turn 65 in 2030. Once this group has retired, the remaining working population will be under strain and in demand. Practical real estate education is an important solution to these challenges.
How can new professionals get started with their careers in real estate (and current practitioners grow their careers)?
Participants in any REDI program can explore their own career path along the way, with insight from instructors who are active in the industry. We often see participants ask instructors, How did you get into real estate or development? What do you love about it? What do you not love about it? These opportunities for experience sharing in person and through our social networks, like LinkedIn, can open doors and minds to the possibilities of rewarding careers that might look different for everyone!
In 2023, REDI Canada launched an introductory online program for new professionals called the Real Estate Development Professional certificate. These online courses cover the same basic subject areas addressed in the in-person REDL certificate, but at a “fundamentals” level and in an “at your own pace” format. REDP learners gain the base-level knowledge to get started and curate their own learning based on their interests and current schedule.
Of course, in collaboration with Haskayne Executive Education and the Westman Centre for Real Estate Studies, we’re also a RECA-recognized provider of Pre-licensing Education, for folks interested in pursuing their residential or commercial real estate licences, as well as condominium or property management licences.