Adam talks about the joy he finds on the job and as a co-host of a popular commercial real estate podcast.
One of First National’s points of distinction is experience. Many members of our team have been with us 10, 15, 20 and 25 years – and in a few cases since we began operations in 1988. We salute those committed individuals who are celebrating a milestone anniversary by presenting their stories in their own words. Today, we profile Adam Powadiuk, Assistant Vice President, Commercial Financing.
Adam, what brought you to First National?
In my previous job, I was working in industrial property brokerage. My territory was very specific, west GTA, and I very rarely strayed out of that region or and asset class boundary. My goal was to expand my horizons by working across a range of property types and across different geographic markets. When I came to First National for an interview, I made my ambitions known and the company absolutely delivered for me. Because First National has such a broad platform, I’ve worked on deals in most every province since I joined and across a variety of assets. I did realize through that experience that you can’t be an expert everywhere, so I have since refined my focus to B.C. and Ontario, but that’s a way wider scope that just the western part of Toronto.
How did you get your foot in the door?
Through my brother-in-law, Mitch Tomulka. Mitch started at First National in 2008, four years before me. He suggested I come in for an interview. I met Jeremy Wedgbury, the head of our division, and was impressed. He talked about the vision, the growth opportunities and the accomplishments to date. I got a good feeling all around.
Is it a blessing or a curse having a relative at the same company?
Put it this way, you don’t stop talking shop when you leave the office. We happily discuss deals over dinner. I think we’re like a lot of people in the industry, we don’t have an off switch. I’ve been on the same team with Mitch since the beginning. Originally it was just the two of us, now we are a team of 15. There has been substantial and ongoing growth.
What was your first job?
I started as a Commercial Analyst. It was exactly the position I wanted….an incredible learning experience. I liken it to drinking from a firehose. Deals coming at you from all different angles. It was a bit overwhelming at first but a great way to jump in. Coming from real estate brokerage, I didn’t have much exposure to the capital stack, and how it relates to capital returns. I gained a significant amount of foundational knowledge and learned how to make financing work for everyone.
Do you remember your first day?
Yes. I was given a tour and introduced to everyone. It felt like an environment where people wanted me to succeed. I remember meeting Moray. The encounter was the highlight of my day. The welcome was noticeable.
You went on to become a Business Development Manager for three years, Director of Commercial Financing for almost five years and then to your current role in August 2021.
Correct and the common element is that people with those titles represent First National to clients. We’re responsible for forging client relationships and hopefully growing them and earning a place as a trusted advisor. When you are part of a financing, it’s necessary to think long term. You don’t just lend and walk away. You are building a bond for the long run.
What are your proudest career moments?
Pride comes at different times in your career. I remember taking a lot of pride in being trusted to work on a deal in an assisting manner, then the first time I ran a financing from start to finish on my own after about a year on the job. Then there was the first time I brought in business. It was a $2 million financing for a beer store-anchored strip plaza. Looking back through those experiences, I realize I got to be part of more and more complex deals. Whether it’s working on guarantee structures or complex environmental issues, solving puzzles for clients is a great feeling, no matter what size of deal is on the table. Today, a typical financing for me would be in the $20 million range but I recently closed a $100 million transaction. Regardless of size, there is still a borrower counting on me to bring everything together on time.
Where do you see yourself in another 10 years?
I see myself working on more and more complex deals. I find a real joy in it.
You co-host a real estate podcast which is available at crepodcast.ca.
That’s right or on your favourite podcast app. While First National is a large institution, we are also entrepreneurial so when Aaron Cameron and I came up with the idea of hosting a weekly interview-style show, the company immediately bought into it. We now have a listener base numbering about 3,000 and we’re tied into the Canadian Real Estate Forums, which has opened a lot of doors for us as we produce podcasts at many of their national conferences. We receive requests from some of the brightest minds in the industry to come on our show, which is exciting.
What advice do you have for someone starting out at First National?
In the first two years of your career, volunteer for projects and say yes to everything. It might be exhausting but through those experiences, you will learn your strengths, identify your interests and get where you want to go a whole lot faster. It’s also important to be yourself. The most successful people in our industry are authentic.
Is this still a place to build a career?
Absolutely, there is a lot of upward mobility at First National. Many senior people started as analysts and grew from there. It’s what happens when you work for a thriving company. Put it this way: when I came to First National 10 years ago, they were at the top of the industry and we’re still at the top today. There is no better place to be.
If you’d like to join us in congratulating Adam on his important career milestone, you can reach him at email@example.com.