Diana Pan, Analyst at Altus Group
Interviewed by Oriana Gertsman
Diana Pan graduated from Sauder in 2016 with a specialization in Real Estate. She now works as an analyst in Altus Group’s Property Tax department.
1. When and how did you realize you were interested in a career in real estate? Was there something specific that inspired you?
Growing up in a beautiful city like Vancouver can do that to you. Before Sauder, I didn’t know much more about real estate other than residential sales. I was initially drawn towards this because I didn’t think of commercial real estate as much more than just land and structures. But a house is more than just a building; it’s someone’s home and memories. So I thought I wanted to be a realtor!
2. What about your Sauder experience best prepared you for your current role?
This might be surprising but the skills I gained from non-academic courses like Business Writing and Business Communication are the ones I weigh a lot of value on in my current role. A lot of the analyses I complete has to then be communicated to various colleagues as well as to external parties. Completing thorough analysis is meaningless if it can’t be communicated effectively.
3. For those students who aren’t familiar with what appraisal is or the jobs pertaining to the field, how would you best describe it?
Appraisal, or the study of value, is the foundation of everything real estate. You can’t broker a sale without understanding the value of the property that’s being sold. You can’t develop a project without understanding the value of the property that’s being built. It’s the building block that drives everything.
4. You work in Altus’s property tax department which is an interesting branch of appraisal. What does Altus’s property tax group do? What does Altus as a whole do?
Altus has the largest property tax practice in Canada. Using appraisal theory, we help our clients by managing assessment appeals, conducting due diligence studies related to property tax, and completing tax projections. Altus as a whole is a commercial real estate consulting group. We provide various advisory services, software, and data solutions to the industry on a global scale. Altus has 75 offices throughout North America, Europe, and Asia.
5. Did you partake in any extracurricular activities/groups which led to your current path during your time at UBC?
Competing in NAIOP Real Estate Challenge really helped to cement in my mind that real estate was the right path for me. In my opinion, you can’t just “coast” in this industry. You need to be passionate about it and you need to care about it.
6. What kind of qualities do you think are most valuable for real estate consultants or anyone pursuing work in your field?
Passion, resilience, and good time management!
7. What is one thing you wish you knew about life post-graduation as an early-years Sauder student?
Don’t spend your entire time at Sauder worrying about securing your first full-time job. Your time at Sauder is about so much more than that.
8. What most excites you about your work?
I’m a people person so I love that my work isn’t all “head-down” work and that there are a lot of communication and relationship requirements. I really enjoy the consulting aspect where I get to communicate to clients about the work I’ve done for them and the results achieved.
9. Are you or have you been a member of any industry organizations you’d recommend to our members?
CREW is a great network for girls interested in commercial real estate. Real estate is an industry that is still mostly dominated by men today. As a girl, it can be hard to figure out where you fit in within the industry. I remember wondering if girls could be industrial brokers (the answer is yes). In CREW, you can learn more about accomplished women in various roles within real estate to gain inspiration.
10. Are there any additional certifications/credentials that would likely be considered an asset for a student pursuing real estate consulting?
I’m currently pursuing my PGCV through the Real Estate Division and Appraisal Institute of Canada to obtain the AACI designation. While I don’t currently work in appraisal, I really believe the study of appraisal is the building block for so much of this industry. The theories related to appraisal study are definitely assets for any type of real estate work.