Earlier this fall, Chard Development’s President & CEO, Byron Chard, was named one of 40 exceptional business leaders for Business in Vancouver’s (BIV) 2023 Forty Under 40 Awards.
Each of this year’s cohorts had a Q&A with BIV to share their career highlights, insights, and advice. Check out Byron’s Q&A below, and make sure you visit the BIV Website to read the rest of the Forty Under 40 recipient articles.
What career highlight are you most proud of?
In 2016, I was looking for creative ways to bring more affordability and a diversity of housing to our portfolio. Chard was able to establish a strong partnership with YWCA Metro Vancouver that would make safe and affordable homes for single women and their dependent children a seamless part of our North Vancouver rental community. The delivery of that essential housing in 2021 was a highlight of my career and I’m so proud to say that the partnership has only gotten stronger, with additional YWCA housing now in the works in Marpole, South Vancouver and the District of North Vancouver.
What was your toughest business or professional decision?
Leading a team through COVID was by far the biggest challenge to date. Finding a way to support our staff during this challenging time and manage business risk, while still growing our business, required a lot of difficult decisions. In March 2020, I made the tough decision to implement temporary leaves, reduce hours and reduce salaries. The Chard team was flexible, understanding and committed and at the end of the day, we were able to top up our staff to their full wages. Our commitment to relationships and our focus on execution proved the right decision through this tough time.
How do you lead?
My leadership style is changing daily as I continue to grow, learn and adjust. My early approach was to lead by example, rolling up my sleeves. As the Chard team has grown and expanded into the highly skilled, dedicated and motivated cohort we are today, I have had to focus more on how I can support the team to achieve project and business objectives. Some days are better than others as I continue to learn!
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned in business?
Business is all about people. At Chard, we design, invest and construct buildings to create community, homes and spaces for employment. Achieving that objective truly takes a village of people – consultants, city officials, Chard team members, lenders, real estate professionals and skilled tradespeople. Without an awareness of individuality within that village and a commitment to operating with compassion, empathy, understanding and support for people, we would never be able to successfully achieve our collective goals. A fair but firm approach that respects what’s important to those we do business with has been the key.
Best piece of advice ever received?
Say yes and be curious. Saying yes often opens up opportunities that previously didn’t exist or provides ideas around solutions to a problem we are trying to solve. By being curious, we ask more questions, which allows for a better understanding of the problem, mentors growth within our team and facilitates better discussion. When you ask questions, you get answers, build relationships, learn what is important and, ultimately, find better solutions.
What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?
I would tell my 20-year-old self that true success lies in the courage to be authentically you. Embrace who you are with conviction; the world will support and embrace it.
What’s left to accomplish?
We are just getting started! Chard’s vision is to continue to build and operate a community-focused rental experience that includes partnerships with not-for-profit operators. I believe we can be a true leader and part of the solution towards obtainable housing in B.C. by operating more with our heart and not just our head.
Is there anyone you would like to thank or acknowledge?
Thank you to my team at Chard for your commitment to our shared vision, your patience with me as I’ve grown into this position and for putting up with my late-night emails and crazy ideas. Thank you to the investors and lenders who have put their trust in Chard and in me. And finally, thank you to my parents for empowering me at a young age, supporting me as I found my own path and – when the time was right – trusting me with this role and to grow our family business.