What year did you join Cushman & Wakefield, in what office, and what role?
Chris Vardon: I joined the firm in the summer of 1986 as an assistant to Bruce Andrews in the midtown office of Yonge and Eglinton. I still remember him telling me that we have summer hours here: we work hard and long Monday to Thursday, but leave at noon on Friday. I thought that was fantastic, and have been here ever since.
What are the biggest changes you’ve seen to the way business is done over the decades?
Chris: Information and technology has made it easier to obtain sales data and therefore produce a report more efficiently. In the early days, sales had to be researched at the registry office, which was a time-consuming process.
Describe some high points in your career.
Chris: We were awarded the site-acquisition contract to acquire telecommunication sites for a start-up called Clearnet across the country. Today, that company is known as TELUS Mobility and is one of the three largest cellular providers in Canada. I was part of a great team that worked on that contract for over five years, which led to other cellular acquisition assignments.
On the valuation side, the people have been fantastic in terms of mentoring and sharing of ideas and projects. I have been fortunate to have valued a wide variety of assets including camps, auto dealerships, schools, retail, office, and industrial.
If you had to describe yourself in just 3 words, what would they be, and why?
Chris: Driven. Impatient. Friendly. I am an early riser that gets up without an alarm. I enjoy my work and look forward to coming to work but also realize the importance of a good work-life balance.
If you could have dinner with any one person, living or dead, who would he/she be, and why?
Chris: That would be my father. He passed away when I was 12 years old, and I would like to spend some time with him.
What have you liked about working for Cushman & Wakefield?
Chris: The people at all levels are very supportive in terms of your success and well-being. A number of my co-workers over the years have left Cushman & Wakefield only to return years later. I like the global feel and work with people across the world.
What are some of the secrets to your personal success?
Chris: My motto has always been: ‘What goes around, comes around.’ I try to be fair and treat other people with respect.
What’s something that many of your colleagues would not know about you.
Chris: I once tried to be a Good Samaritan and picked up a hitch hiker during a snow storm on my way into work. She turned out to be a prostitute. The family still laughs about that.
What do you see as becoming the biggest future drivers of change for clients and real estate strategies as we move forward?
Chris: I am fascinated by the images that the drones can produce these days and would like to see them used in valuation reports. Currently, such reports are typically pretty dry reading material. Imagine if there was a link showing an overview of the property and the comparables via drone technology.
What advice do you offer young people getting into the business today?
Chris: Don’t be afraid to try new challenges. Get to know as many people within your organization.