At a 2023 ULI Spring Meeting panel titled “View from the Top,” Tsering Yangki, executive vice president at Dream Unlimited, one of Canada’s leading real estate companies, with over $23 billion in assets across North America and Europe, spoke with WLI chair Ellen Klasson, managing director at Robert Charles & Lesser & Co. (RCLCO).
The discussion began by tracing the trajectory of Yangki’s early life. Originally from Tibet, her family fled the country and ended up in a refugee settlement in India, where they lived for several years. Yangki described these years as challenging but ultimately formative, instilling in her a foundational sense of resourcefulness, as well as an understanding of the need for safe places to live around the world.
“When you look back on your life, everything starts to connect,” she said, “even if it seems like a very nonlinear journey,” citing how these experiences informed the choices she would make later in her professional life.
Yangki came to Canada in the early 2000s as a decorated academic with degrees in international finance as well as international relations but faced no shortage of challenges and kindness in her pursuit of a career in real estate. Her first job was as a telemarketer, she said, but she remained vigilant for opportunities and eventually found her way into Dream Unlimited, filling a junior position.
Climbing the ranks, Yangki said, required her to take some risks.
“Gradually, there were people there who recognized that they could take a chance on me, but it was also about making sure that I was confident enough to raise my hand and seek those opportunities,” she said.
Discussing how she found the confidence to put herself out there in that way, she said the question she always asked herself was: “Why not?”
“We each contribute, and we have to do that with humility, because there are things we don’t know, but we also need to have confidence in what we do know and what we can bring forward.”
The discussion then turned toward looking at some of the work that Yangki has been a part of in her time with Dream Unlimited, focusing on two recent projects: Quayside in Toronto and Zibi in Ottawa, Ontario/Gatineau, Quebec. Both of these projects do well to capture the scope of Dream’s mandate, which is to deliver communities that are welcoming to all while taking no shortcuts on efforts to build sustainably.
For Yangki, this aspect of the company was something that helped her affirm that she was in the right place.
“My mother always says each one of us has to be a good ancestor to the future, and that’s something that has really stuck with me—am I being a good ancestor?”
To close the discussion, the conversation shifted toward the topic of leadership, giving Yangki an opportunity to reflect on what she has learned in her role at Dream Unlimited, and share what she felt are some of the pillars of good leadership.
“You need to have clarity and precision,” she said, “but you also need to be collaborative. I think, as a leader, sometimes we just want to get outcomes, and we forget to pause and listen to our teams.” She tries to remember that everyone brings his or her own expertise to a team, and being a strong leader means allowing each person to bring that set of skills to the table.
She also added, “How you treat yourself is equally important,” stressing the importance of finding ways to disconnect from her job and be present in her life at home.