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Canada  + Cross Border News + Ontario  + Multi-residential Housing  | 
Glen Hirsh provides leadership insights.

Starlight’s Hirsh Provides Leadership Insights

(This is the first of a two-part interview with Glen Hirsh, COO for Toronto-based Starlight Investments, a global investor and asset manager that focuses on multi-residential properties. Hirsh looks back at 2023 and explains how he and his company are approaching leadership in 2024.)

How was your leadership style different in 2023 compared to 2022?

We continue to focus on creating a collaborative work environment for our people, and and I say that because we really have an exceptional group of employees at Starlight. We’re just shy of around 400 staff, all inclusive and we’re coming in focused on making an impact every day. If you look at our our strategic plan as one example, our purpose is investing with impact and that concept of impact,: Investing with impact, making an impact is threaded right through our whole ethos at Starlight. It’s present in our strategic plan. It’s present in our core values. It shows up in our vision as an organization. … And, that’s the thread I think that links each department and employee. I look at leadership from two angles: No. 1, internal, which relates to the impact that we as leadership have on our employees. And, No. 2, I look at as external: how do we make an impact on our partners, our residents and our communities that we serve?

What were some of the initiatives you undertook in 2023 to increase productivity, teamwork, or communication?

At Starlight Investments, we believe that companies like ours thrive when our communities thrive with us. So by devoting and lending our time and resources, we strengthen our ties with the communities that we serve. For example, [in 2023], we launched our inaugural Impact Day. This was an incredible initiative. It was a day where we saw more than 325 Starlight employees coming together to support a number of charitable and community-focused projects in Ontario, B.C. and the U.K. We volunteered collectively over 1,200 hours as an organization that day. Everyone got involved. We all felt amazing, serving the communities where we provide housing; it was a big success.

We’ve also participated in initiatives like corporate canine therapy, where we brought a bunch of puppies into the workplace. Studies have shown that that people engaging with with puppies and dogs and animals in general speaks to well being. It’s great for mental health. And, overall, it provides and fosters a healthy workplace.

To give you a couple of [other examples], our people and culture team launched a mentorship program. It pairs up our exceptional employees with leaders to provide career guidance and coaching. And then finally, we held a cultural day here at Starlight where we invited our exceptional staff to bring in meals and food that sort of represents their culture. People wore traditional clothing of their culture, and it was an opportunity for all of us to explore the diversity and have a sense of inclusivity at Starlight.

How do you think you’ll have to lead differently in 2024?

One of the things I would say is, we have to lead with what I’ll call a sustainability lens. And now more than ever, we need to prioritize sustainable growth. So we’re committed to increasing the sustainability of our communities. We’ve been recognized for the steps we’ve taken to reduce our environmental impacts and enhance the well being of our residents. For example, our Canadian residential portfolio ranked first in the GRESB [Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark] survey. That’s an annual survey. It measures key criteria and how companies and real estate companies measure up against criteria as it relates to sustainability. We ranked first in that survey for a second year in a row, confirming our commitment to sustainability and well being for our residents.

Leadership means continually promoting a culture of collaboration. That’s not going to change. Diversity and inclusion are fundamental to our work environment. And what we’ve seen is, our diverse workforce allows us to take on opportunities from different perspectives and create a greater impact. That’s our formula.

Editor’s Note: Some parts of this interview have been edited and condensed.


Inside The Story

Glen HirshStarlight Investments

About Monte Stewart

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.

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