Property Biz Canada

New BOMA Canada CEO eyes growth

Benjamin Shinewald, named President and CEO of the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) of Canada in May, has ambitious plans for the national organization.

Toronto-based BOMA is best known for its flagship BOMA BESt environmental recognition and certification program, the annual BOMEX conference, as well as various annual awards programs.

Shinewald believes the Toronto-based association can do much more. “My job is to maximize the value that we can get out of programs like that and perhaps expand them as well,” he said. “There is lots of opportunity for growth in those programs.”

BOMA Canada has other initiatives in the works that Shinewald was unwilling to share currently. “We have a bunch of really exciting opportunities down the road and that road could be short or medium term, but I’m not sure I can talk about any of them publicly yet.”

BOMA Canada’s audience is rather unique. Rather than serving the roughly 3,200 BOMA members across the country, BOMA Canada has a membership of just 11, namely the 11 local BOMA chapters coast to coast which often implement programs created by the national organization and are the main contact point for rank and file members.

“One of the challenges is our profile among the grassroots is limited,” he said. “My job is to serve 11 locals.”

Shinewald is not hiding out in his new office, however. He has made a point of attending as many BOMA local events as he can. That’s a relatively easy task in Toronto with the local chapter quite literally down the hall. It is more of an effort for the other 10 chapters.

“I just got back from Vancouver last week where I went to two different BOMA BC events,” he said. “They had a fantastic under 40 event the night before – I snuck in even though I am not there anymore. The next day they had a monthly luncheon where I went” and talked a bit about BOMA Canada. He made a similar foray to Halifax in June, Ottawa in September for BOMEX and his next stop is Calgary.

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“It is important, even though we have technically speaking 11 members, it is important that the grass roots membership has some connection and understanding of what BOMA Canada is.”

He is somewhat amazed by BOMA’s diverse membership base, which runs the gamut from “really big property owners and managers, including the very biggest companies” to “small independent owner-operators” to engineers and suppliers to the commercial real estate industry.

His impression after five months on the job is that the industry is in good shape economically. “In Alberta, right now, it is booming. In other parts of the country, it is booming. My sense is there is health across the board with sort of peaks and not a whole lot of valleys.”

Small but growing

BOMA Canada works out of a downtown Toronto office adjacent to BOMA Toronto, and actually shares a staff member, which explains Shinewald’s staff count of “five and a half” people.

That tally also includes the currently vacant position of director of energy and environment, a post that was vacant when the new CEO joined BOMA Canada. It’s an important position to fill as the person in the role “will be most closely linked with growing and expanding the BOMA BESt program,” explained Shinewald. “We are in the final stages – we hope – of filling it.”

A varied background

Before joining BOMA Canada, Shinewald worked as Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Jewish Congress, served as a senior analyst on economic policy with the Privy Council Office in Ottawa under both the Martin and Harper governments. He also formerly practiced law on Bay Street with Torys LLP.

Shinewald does not consider his lack of experience in commercial real estate to be a handicap. “The advantage for me is that I can come in with a genuinely clean slate and with some fresh perspective and new ideas that I can bring from other parts of my life.”

The former lawyer and bureaucrat brings a mosaic of talents and experience to the table. Born and raised in Winnipeg, he has also lived in Israel, England, France and the United States and speaks English, French and Hebrew, along with some Spanish. According to his bio, he is also an award-winning amateur photographer.

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