Diana Hoang has some straight-forward advice for other commercial real estate industry leaders as these turbulent times play out.
“Don’t give up,” says Hoang, the owner and managing director of Etobicoke, Ont.-based Spear Realty, in an interview with Canada Connect CRE.
She also advises her peers not to get discouraged by high interest rates, economic uncertainty and rapidly changing market conditions. Look back and review your company’s situation occasionally, but also keep forging ahead.
“There’s always an opportunity,” she said.
Hoang has definitely capitalized on her opportunities since beginning her commercial real estate career in analyst and communications roles.
“It wasn’t planned,” she said of her advancement. “I didn’t say I was going to be in commercial real estate. But when I was exposed to it on the marketing side and the process side, I found that it was an interest of mine to work with clients directly, and that’s why I wanted to go into the brokerage side.
“And then from there, I decided, after being in the industry with a larger brokerage firm, to launch Spear and a team of my own.”
Over the course of 13 years, Hoang became an associate vice-president with Colliers in Toronto. In 2021, she launched Spear with just herself and a receptionist, brokering deals in the Greater Toronto Area.
Since then, Spear has expanded quickly and become a team of 18 people. The company now transacts throughout Ontario and, in collaboration with partners, across the Canada-U.S. border in Buffalo.
Before 2023 is complete, Hoang plans to hire eight additional sales representatives and two more support staff members, bringing the employee total to 28.
In addition to being Spear’s broker of record, Hoang has become an investor and developer, mainly in the industrial property sector.
Spear’s strategic plan calls for the company to expand into new geographic markets in 2024 by opening three more offices, including one in the US. Hoang’s ultimate goal is for Spear to become a global boutique commercial real estate firm operating in every market.
Following her own advice, Hoang refuses to be dismayed by today’s challenges which, she finds, are actually emotions – and attitudes.
What’s the most common mistake leaders make in an inhospitable market?
Assuming they know the answers to everything and not listening to the clients and marketplace. Decisions are often made on ego and social influence, having short-term gratification at the expense of long-term success. I’m seeing leaders make emotional and hasty decisions due to unfavourable market conditions and pivoting from their original long-term goal and objective. For example, with rising interest rates, we see leaders hold off on expansion. Yet, their operations are still requiring more space; and when the market becomes favourable, they cannot react fast enough and are left behind.
What’s the most valuable leadership advice you’ve ever been given?
Never give up. Pursue your goals and vision with passion and determination. This is what separates successful leaders from those that remain stagnant.
What’s the best decision you’ve ever made as a business leader?
The best decision I have made is launching Spear and staying on target, being vocal and continuously sharing the vision as to where I see, and want, the company to be. Allowing staff, colleagues and industry peers to see that it can be done one step at a time. Sharing the passion for the industry and clients and mentoring the next generation of industry leaders. And, recruiting staff that have passion for new innovative ideas to improve the service to our clients.
Monte Stewart serves as Content Director - Canada for Connect Commercial Real Estate.
Based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Monte provides daily news coverage of major Canadian commercial real estate markets, including Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal and Calgary. He has written about the real estate sector for various media outlets and Avison Young since the early 2000s.
In addition, he has covered sports, general news and business for several leading wire services and publications, including The Canadian Press, The Associated Press, The Calgary Herald, The Globe and Mail, Research Money, The Daily Oil Bulletin, Natural Gas World and The Toronto Star.
Monte is active in his community as a youth basketball coach and raises funds for such charitable causes as Movember.