President, Gestion Immobilière Quo Vadis/Complexe Dompark
TELUS Trailblazer Award, EAST
Natalie Voland is the owner and president of Montreal real estate company Gestion Immobilière Quo Vadis, which does development, management, and design work for their own properties as well as for third parties and investors. They are the first B Corp triple bottom line company in Quebec, and the first real estate company to receive this certification in Canada, having been in business since 1993 with over 1.5 million square feet and 500 tenants in their portfolio. As a triple bottom line business, under Voland’s leadership the company has sought out how to innovate in one of the world’s most respected, yet socially backwards industries: real estate often uses short term, individualistic strategies that create long term consequences in terms of natural resource depletion, waste production, greenhouse gas offshoots, and the divide between the “haves” and “have nots”.
What do you wish you knew at the beginning?
I wish I knew the value of getting a mentor early on, so that I would be able to have someone to soundboard ideas off, someone who could open doors and someone to validate concepts with.
How did you know that your idea was truly innovative, and a viable business?
Innovation starts with doing things differently; question methods “just because they are always done that way”, and look to other industries to develop best practices for your own business world, and create the magical “peanut butter and jelly moments” to pave your new path. I knew that I had a viable business when I was able to pay all the monthly bills on their due dates, which was further validated when people stopped thinking my ideas were “cute” or “nice”, but when the established real estate VP’s started to ask for lunch dates to discuss possible collaborations.