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Ontario Teachers', Great Gulf, Nch’ḵay̓, UCPG name new senior execs

Pierre Cherki to lead OTPP's reorganized, in-house real estate division

Pierre Cherki is the incoming executive managing director, real estate, at Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan. (Courtesy OTPP)
Pierre Cherki is the incoming executive managing director, real estate, at Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan. (Courtesy OTPP)

Pierre Cherki will become the first executive managing director, real estate, at Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan on Jan. 22. The new investment leadership position at Ontario Teachers’ will oversee its in-house real estate asset group which was established on Jan. 1 as part of a corporate reorganization. 

Cherki will be based in Toronto.

Ontario Teachers’ announced in June it will bring Cadillac Fairview’s international investment professionals in-house, aligning it with Ontario Teachers’ other investment asset groups. Cadillac Fairview will remain a core part of Ontario Teachers’ global real estate portfolio, with a focus on growth, diversification and densification of its real estate assets. 

Cherki will oversee Ontario Teachers’ global real estate investing and portfolio management activities with a team of almost 40 investment professionals in Toronto, London, Singapore, Dallas and São Paulo. The portfolio was valued at $29.3 billion as at June 30.

Cherki brings over 25 years of real estate experience to the role, having spent most of his career at DWS Group, one of the world's largest managers of alternative investments.

He was a member of the DWS board and served in numerous senior management positions including global head of alternatives, global head of real estate, and head of real estate, Europe and Asia Pacific. 

Since 2022, he has been a member of the Cadillac Fairview board of directors.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in management and economics from Tel-Aviv University and an MBA from Northwestern University.

Wong to head new resorts group at Great Gulf

Great Gulf Group has bolstered its senior leadership ranks, including its resorts and leisure division, with three new hires.

Jay Wong has joined the company in the newly created position of president, resorts and leisure; Corinne Pruzanski is the new chief legal officer; and Kristopher Wojtecki has become chief operating officer.

Wong will lead the expansion of Great Gulf's resorts and leisure portfolio. 

He joins Great Gulf from Exclusive Resorts, a members-only luxury travel club. As executive vice-president of operations and member experience, he helped drive a major turnaround of the business.

Prior to that, he formed the Americas portfolio management team at Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts and held leadership roles across strategy, brand and operations at Starwood Hotels and Resorts.

Pruzanski is an accomplished general counsel and senior executive with over 25 years of experience in the commercial real estate industry in Canada, the U.S. and Europe.

Before joining Great Gulf, Pruzanski was general counsel for CAPREIT for more than a decade. Prior to that, Pruzanski was a partner in the law firm Stikeman Elliott LLP, which she joined after starting her legal career in New York.

Pruzanski is taking over from Tom Griffiths, leaving Great Gulf after 12 years in the role.

Wojtecki takes on the newly created COO position to lead Great Gulf's overall growth strategy.

Prior to joining Great Gulf, Wojtecki had an extensive tenure at PSP Investments, culminating as managing director, real estate investments.

His track record includes significant developments such as Downsview in Toronto, Seaport in Boston and The Wharf in Washington, D.C.

Podmore Russell takes role with Nch’ḵay̓

Nch’ḵay̓ has appointed Jennifer Podmore Russell as executive vice-president, real estate and development. She joins Nch’ḵay̓ after serving a short term as a director on the Nch’ḵay̓ Board.

Podmore Russell has nearly two decades of experience in real estate strategy, portfolio planning and development advisory. Most recently, she was senior vice-president on the advisory team at Rennie. 

Previously, she led the real estate division in B.C. for a top-four accounting and consultancy firm.

She was also the founder and managing partner of MPC Intelligence, a research and analytics solution for the new home development industry in Western Canada. 

She serves on the board of the Urban Development Institute, as an executive board member of the Royal Colombian Foundation, as director of the Arrowleaf Board and as past vice-chair of the Vancouver Economic Commission.

Bolte to depart from BTB REIT

BTB Real Estate Investment Trust (BTB-UN-T) has announced the pending departure of Mathieu Bolté, executive vice-president, chief operating officer and chief financial officer, on Feb. 23 to pursue another professional opportunity. 

He will remain in his role to ensure a smooth transition, including through the announcement of BTB's 2023 annual results.

BTB has launched a formal search for a successor.

UCPG names Cheema president/CEO

University of Calgary Properties Group (UCPG) has named Novy Cheema as its next president and CEO. He will take over from Gregg Callander, the interim president and CEO since March 2023.

UCPG oversees the development and management of university land projects, including current developments University District and University Innovation Quarter, both in northwest Calgary.

Cheema has more than 15 years of experience working in real estate and development and joins UCPG after leading Alberta and Prairie real estate development activities for a major North American development and construction company.

Prior to this, he practised commercial real estate law and also worked as counsel for a Calgary-based development company.

Cheema will begin his new role on Jan. 29.

Varghese joins Trez Capital board

Trez Capital has appointed Joshua Varghese to its board of governors.

Varghese brings extensive experience to the role, including as a founding partner and president of Axia Real Assets, a partnership with CI Financial Corp.

Prior to Axia, Varghese served as vice-president and portfolio manager at CI Financial for nearly 15 years where he was responsible for approximately $5 billion in real estate equities. 

As the lead portfolio manager on the Signature Real Estate Pool and co-manager of the Sentry Global REIT fund, First Asset Canadian REIT ETF, Signature High Income fund and Signature Diversified Yield fund, Varghese actively engaged with portfolio companies on strategic-level decisions.

Varghese is a CFA and holds a bachelor of international business, commerce, from Carleton University.

He succeeds Christopher Voutsinas, who has exited from the board.

Kuester promoted at Colliers Vancouver

Kirk Kuester has been promoted to executive managing director at Colliers Vancouver, effective Jan. 17.

Kuester has been active in the Western Canadian commercial real estate industry since 1983. After commencing his career in Calgary, he relocated to Vancouver and joined Colliers in 1988. 

He has had a variety of roles within the Colliers Vancouver office, including managing director and executive managing director for the Vancouver brokerage. Since 2021 he had been executive vice-president, national investment services.

Jacob takes new position with Arcadis in Toronto

Arcadis has appointed Audrey Jacob as city executive for Toronto to lead the company’s strategic growth initiatives, pursue new business development opportunities and partnerships and oversee client relationships.

Jacob brings more than 30 years of experience to this role across business development, urban planning/development consultancy and management.

Most recently, she was the integration director overseeing the successful structural integration of IBI Group into Arcadis.

A native of Toronto, Jacob is active in a variety of industry and professional associations, including ULI, Women’s Leadership Initiative, BILD, Lambda Alpha and Pragma Council.

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