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Char Fortune, Avison Young

Char Fortune

Editors’ Note

Char Fortune is an accomplished commercial real estate executive with more than 30 years of experience in the industry. Before joining Avison Young, Fortune was with Grubb & Ellis as Managing Director of the Corporate Services Group for the Southeast. Prior to that, she was a Senior Vice-President at Trammell Crow Company. Earlier, she worked for Cushman & Wakefield as a Senior Managing Director.

Company Brief

Avison Young (avisonyoung.com) is a leading commercial real estate services firm, headquartered in Toronto, Canada, that provides investment sales, leasing, advisory, management, financing and mortgage placement services to owners and occupiers of office, retail, industrial, multi-family and hospitality properties.

Would you provide an overview of your key areas of focus at Avison Young?

I have three areas of focus: Global Director of Learning and Professional Development for Avison Young University (AYU); leader of the Young Guns group; and corporate real estate advisor in our Enterprise Solutions group.

The majority of my time is spent on AYU developing and conducting on-site training throughout North America and Europe. I am certified to teach selling skills and sales negotiation. I teach listener-focused presentation techniques, prospecting and business development skills, as well as business planning and goal setting. I’m also responsible for the curriculum on our e-Learning platform, which houses more than 100 courses and is available to all Avison Young staff.

As the leader of the Young Guns group, I am responsible for providing training and education for our younger professionals who are in the early stages of their careers. I affectionately say I am raising the next generation of brokerage professionals in our company.

For Enterprise Solutions, I work with multi-market companies to develop real estate portfolio strategies and assist account teams in organizing and managing these key relationships.

Would you discuss Avison Young’s commitment to learning and professional development?

People win assignments using the skills that we teach through AYU, so they get excited about that. We get calls all the time from people who say, “What AYU taught me gave me the confidence and skills I needed to win an assignment.” With results like that, our commitment to learning and professional development grows every day.

It starts at the top with our CEO, Mark Rose, and is a huge part of our culture. Our Managing Directors enthusiastically embrace the on-site workshops I conduct, as well as the online courses we offer. I’ve been all over North America and Europe this past year responding to requests for training in selling, presenting, negotiating and prospecting for all levels and roles, whether senior principals, Young Guns just getting started, business developers for property/project management, or support staff involved in any of the above.

What was the vision around the creation of Avison Young University, the firm’s internal training program?

It matters to people that you care about them personally, not just professionally. It was Mark Rose’s vision to invest in our people through a formal training program that would provide them the opportunity to grow. Our industry has historically done a lackluster job of developing its people and Mark wanted Avison Young to be different. He wanted our company to be at the forefront of providing training and education to attract and retain the best-of-the-best talent. It has been a very successful recruiting tool for us over the years.

How critical are diversity and inclusion to Avison Young’s culture?

They are mission critical. We actually provide a live-training experience that addresses the company’s culture and value system entitled “AY engAYge: Culture Matters!” The presentation focuses on the core values of Avison Young centered on diversity, inclusion, collaboration and investing in our talent.

We highly value all aspects of diversity including diversity of thought, political views, knowledge and credentials, as well as gender, age and disabilities. We also have a diversity and inclusion group under which we started a Women’s Network and an LGBTA group.