Woman to Watch: Renee Wasylyk

"I wanted to build…a company that would be one of the backbones in the communities we built in and developed in.”

Renee Wasylyk

Renee Wasylyk has seen Troika Group grow in just 15 years from a Kelowna-based development business to a national company that has developments throughout B.C., in Alberta and in Manitoba.

Wasylyk is the owner and CEO of Troika, which she began as a consulting group 17 years ago. She always knew she wanted to get into development, and two years after founding Troika she transitioned it into a development firm.

“Every day is completely different,” Wasylyk said of why she loves working in land development. “For me it’s a highly collaborative process. I think some developers see it as antagonistic, but it’s not. It’s about trying to figure out what the vision is from the council you’re working underneath, and then working with city hall to see how they want that vision enacted. Then we get to be the doers, the ones that get to see the vision become a reality. I really enjoy that relationship aspect, and then the creative, building something from nothing or seeing some tiny old house and seeing what could be there.”

When she drives through Kelowna, Wasylyk often comes across buildings built by Troika, and seeing structures that she built that will be there for 100 years is a thrilling feeling. However, she noted it’s part of what makes up a much larger responsibility for her as a developer.

“My whole business plan was not about development, it was about community benefit,” she explained. “That focus has been there from the genesis. It was all about how are we going to do things positively, how are we going to be change agents, how are we going to get involved with the communities. I never wanted to be the cult of one with ‘Wasylyk Developments’ where it was my last name, and as soon as I was done with it, it wouldn’t continue. I wanted to build something with sustainability and a company that would be one of the backbones in the communities we built in and developed in.”

Wasylyk has completed many developments over the past 15 years and there a few that really stand out in her mind, one of which was a project on Leon Avenue in downtown Kelowna that highlighted the collaboration of development.

“We chose to buy a property in the middle of a downturn and really reinvest in the downtown core based on what the vision of council was,” she recalled. “We got behind what they wanted and then even the design of the building was a collaborative process with city hall. To me that’s an example of how we really participated with the community and the council of the day in making that happen.”

In addition to bringing positive change through development, Wasylyk is also focused on finding ways for both Troika and herself personally to become benefactors in the community by supporting many charities and non-profit organizations. Wasylyk also serves on many boards, including the Interior Health board, Downtown kelowna association, national council for girls and women, the national board for the breakfast club of canada where she specifically represents western canada, and for the past year and a half she has been the vice-chair on the Premier’s Women’s Economic Council, which advises the premier on issues that will directly affect women in industry and the economy.

Wasylyk’s guidance in the direction she has taken Troika has earned her recognition throughout the province, as she was recently acknowledged as the Entrepreneur of the Year for the Pacific region for Real Estate and Construction.

“That’s a huge honour that’s not because of my age, I didn’t win a female award, I didn’t win an award for a young person. For me that’s a category that spans the 18 year olds to the 80 year olds, and for me it’s probably one of the largest awards I’ve ever won. What I really liked about it was that it wasn’t just based on my business, although they tore [examined] the business up and down. What was really thrilling for me was that they looked at the ethos. They looked at how Troika had been built, what we’d said and determined to be and how we’ve enacted that over the past 15 years. For me, that community aspect was huge.”

Wasylyk added she owes a large part of her success to her team at Troika as they are passionate, proficient and believe in the vision that started 15 years ago. Without them, she would never be able to do what she does.

 

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