Perspectives Lecture Features SmartCentres Founder Mitchell Goldhar
On October 23rd, the Schulich Real Property Alumni Association and the Brookfield Centre in Real Estate & Infrastructure hosted their 14th annual Perspectives Lecture in downtown Toronto at the Ritz-Carlton. This year’s event titled, “Trust Your Vision” featured Canadian businessman Mitchell Goldhar, Founder & Executive Chair of SmartCentres REIT, who shared stories about his life, career and how he helped Walmart enter the Canadian market.
Following the networking and cocktail dinner reception, Co-Chairs Eric Midvidy (MBA ’07) and Nathan Tracey (MBA ’17) kicked off the evening with welcoming remarks. Jim Clayton, Director of the Brookfield Centre in Real Estate & Infrastructure, provided a lively update on the program and highlighted the importance of this event for students, alumni and industry leaders to network and engage.
Goldhar took to the podium to deliver his keynote address sharing many of his formative memories, life accomplishments and, unexpected detours during his career. “What I’ve experienced and learned is that a vision to be achieved must represent incremental change to the status quo,” said Goldhar. His vision has grown well beyond the original one as SmartCentres’ network of shopping centres is now being transformed into city centres including the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre.
Goldhar elaborated on a moment in his career when he promoted a development opportunity by installing a sign on land that he did not own yet. That sign later helped him form a working relationship with Rob Walton, former Chairman of Walmart and eldest son of Sam Walton, the founder of Walmart. Rob Walton is the visionary who had the idea to expand Walmart internationally and became a mentor to Goldhar.
Goldhar was determined to challenge the status quo by developing value-oriented, accessible and convenient retail centres for Canadians. “To lead the way to change, even slightly, involves courage and sacrifice,” said Goldhar. “You will experience emotions including fear, stress, anger and excitement to the extremes… If you are on the right side of change and you pull it off, you will have lived through something extraordinary.”
Congratulations to this year’s Perspectives Lecture Committee Co-Chairs Eric Midvidy (MBA ’07), Nathan Tracey (MBA ’17) and members Abishek Bhasin (BBA ’11, MREI ’18), Christian Petersen (MBA ’13), Miranda Gobran (MREI ’19), and Umehani Kanga (MREI ’19) for their hard work and commitment organizing a fantastic event. The annual event raised over $18,000 towards the Student Experience Fund, which provides financial assistance for Real Estate and Infrastructure students to attend and participate in case competitions, site visits, industry conferences, skills development and mentorship opportunities.