OTTAWA—When Roger Greenberg stepped down as CEO of the multi-award winning Minto Group last fall, it was a smooth transition for the prominent real estate developer, thanks to an orderly succession plan that Greenberg had put in place years earlier.
As one of the capital city’s top business moguls, Greenberg recently shared some of the lessons he learned while going through the challenging process of “passing the baton” after two decades of leading the family business.
Greenberg inherited leadership of Minto from his late uncle and then-CEO Irving Greenberg in an unplanned succession in the early 1990s.
After having been fortunate to make it through that transition, this time he wasn’t going to just “bet it all on red at the roulette table” and hope for the best, he told the business crowd at the Westin Hotel on April 3 at the launch of a new speaker series featuring Ottawa’s top executives.
Rather then risk the uncertainty that comes with new leadership, he made sure Minto had a known quantity at the helm. Greenberg had the following advice for others facing a similar situation:
- Learn from those who have gone through the same thing.
- Plan ahead as far in advance as possible, because no matter how long you think it will take, it will take twice as long and require twice as many resources.
- Hire a successor and staff with the same value system as that of your company.
- Have something to go to when you exit, like another project or a cabin in the woods. Otherwise you will continue to be too involved.
Lately Greenberg is keeping busy working on the redevelopment of Lansdowne Park, a massive project to revitalize the former fairgrounds by building a large urban park and a mixed-use area that includes residences, shops, and offices.
He also has a new position sitting on the board of the Canadian Football League (CFL), and he purchased a cabin in the woods and a vacation spot in Florida.
He said all this enables his successor to do more of the job with less of his input.
After 59 years in business, Minto has grown from a small homebuilder to becoming one of Canada’s leading real estate development, construction, and management firms, with operations in Ottawa as well as Toronto, Calgary, Florida, and other locations.
It has built over 70,000 new homes and owns and manages a sprawling portfolio of residential rental properties as well as commercial real estate.
With the transition last fall from being a family-owned and family-led company to a family-owned company led by non-family CEO Michael Waters, Greenberg praises Waters as a humble partner willing to learn from the decades of experience the Greenberg family brings to the table.
Prior to this role, Waters served as Minto’s CFO, having joined the company in 2007.
Among other recognitions, Greenberg was named a Member of the Order of Canada in December 2013 for his charity work and many contributions to the larger community. He continues to serve as Chairman of the Board of Directors at Minto.
Greenberg was the first presenter at a new “CEO talk” speaker series hosted by the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce and the Ottawa Business Journal. The series will take place twice a year, in April and September, with a luncheon at a downtown hotel.
For more information on the “CEO talk” speaker series, visit www.obj.ca