Assistant Professor in Brookfield Centre Real Estate and Infrastructure, Schulich School of Business, York University
Sector: Academia Sector
Magic Moment: As a legacy initiative from the 2018 G7 Summit held in Quebec City, I had the opportunity to partner with a consortium of leading institutional investors to create a solution that will address growing climate change and social inequality by stimulating investment in global infrastructure. This initiative evolved into a pioneering education program known as the Sustainable Infrastructure Fellowship Program. The Program seeks to bridge the growing global infrastructure deficit in emerging markets by building the capacity of senior government leaders to better prepare and structure infrastructure projects that are sustainable over the long-term and use different forms of private capital. A program like this is premised on knowledge sharing among investors, governments, and leading practitioners – a feat which at the time had yet to be executed on such a global scale. As Academic Director, I viewed this challenge as an opportunity to innovate, interact with a variety of dynamic and global city builders, and question the status quo of infrastructure delivery and finance. In under eight months, I led the conception, development and delivery of an intense and best-in-class experiential executive academic program for 13 senior government officials originating from five continents. This program proved to be a resounding success and continues to grow to encompass more participants from more countries while also evolving to reflect new thinking on sustainable infrastructure investment.
Key Influence: Godyne Sibay. Find opportunities to get a seat at the table and showcase your value. Once there you can introduce meaningful change by creating opportunities for others to participate as well.
James McKellar. We can redefine problems to identify meaningful solutions. Often what seems to be impossible can become possible by questioning our assumptions. We often do not know what we are capable of until we try.
Next Big Challenge As An Industry: How do we emerge from a global pandemic stronger – physically apart but socially closer – with a common goal to be more inclusive, sustainable, and resilient to future change?
Secret Talent: I am a tea-enthusiast and enjoy creating new blends.
On Championing Others… I am a firm believer that individuals from a variety of perspectives can thrive in the industry. As an educator, mentor, practitioner, and champion for future leaders, I actively seek opportunities to introduce new members of the industry. For example, for the past five years I have encouraged and accompanied each female student in my real estate and infrastructure graduate courses to the annual WIN CCPPP Breakfast. This offers an opportunity for students to meet other successful women in the industry, develop confidence to network, and explore the range of career opportunities that are available. In addition, I teach my courses in a way that are skills based which empowers students to speak up, hone their negotiation and presentation capabilities, and to showcase their talents to a range of external industry leaders who offer feedback and mentorship. I also speak at events that advocate for leadership roles for visible minorities and encourage current and former students to engage in their active career development. Sherena recognizes the importance of training and mentorship and has served as a mentor and role model to many professionals who are now well recognized in the field not only in Ontario but also in Canada. She has positively impacted the career of those she mentored and many of them are now in senior roles in various institutions. In addition, her unwavering belief in the need for a broad range of voices at leadership tables and in the infrastructure sector has given Sherena a respected reputation as not only a mentor and sponsor but also as an advocate and agent of change for many.
One word that captures you: Trailblazer – I am not afraid to walk a path less traveled.