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June 01, 2021

Q&A with Cadillac Fairview’s Inventor Mentors

Caleigh Silmser, Senior Manager, Brand, Cadillac Fairview

What’s your top tip for identifying a creative solution to a real-life problem? What’s one example of a time you came up with a creative solution to a real-life problem?

Keep an eye out for "workarounds" – things people do in the process of completing a task without even realizing it. For example, we found out that managers working in Cadillac Fairview shopping centres would walk the mall to poach other great retail workers (i.e., lure them away from another store to come work at theirs). We took this insight and built a recruiting platform called CF Front Door to help connect retail managers with job seekers.

What’s an invention or innovative idea that you have helped to develop and what steps did you take to develop it?

I created an online library of marketing materials for our leasing team to use anytime they wanted to pitch a new retail client. This approach was innovative because previously they had to download and store these files on their computer. They would be out of date every month when the data was updated.
 
To develop the library, I first interviewed the leasing (sales) team to understand their needs and what they would want if they could wave a magic wand – the best question to ask someone when innovating!
 
I then worked with people in the company who had experience building this type of microsites and got their advice on how to approach it. Then I developed all the materials with a design team, built the site, and launched it to the team.

What advice would you give your middle-school self? Consider how the skills you learned when you were younger influenced your career path.

Don't let perfection get in your way. Getting ideas out into the world early will help you figure out where your gaps are and how you can improve. People actually LIKE being asked for their advice and help!

Tell us about a time when you did something awesome and innovative.

I helped build a series of programs and tools that helped improve service at all of Cadillac Fairview properties. The best part about the work was that it helped build more meaningful connections between frontline workers and guests/clients of Cadillac Fairview.
Candace Harris-Parker, Delivery Project Manager, Cadillac Fairview
 

What’s your top tip for identifying a creative solution to a real-life problem? What’s one example of a time you came up with a creative solution to a real-life problem?

I have two tips:
  1. I'd encourage you to seek help.  It is a great opportunity to collaborate with your peers.  Seek people who will give you different perspectives. Have a group session and brainstorm or talk though the problem and potential solutions. 
  2. Sometimes it helps to step away from the problem and take a break.  Take your mind off it and do something relaxing or fun; then return to the issue at a different time when you are more likely to approach it with a fresh/relaxed frame of mind. It will be easier to identify a solution. 

What advice would you give your middle-school self? Consider how the skills you learned when you were younger influenced your career path.

Advice I would give my younger self is to be confident.  Being confident doesn't mean having all the answers – it’s okay not to know everything.  Essentially be confident enough to ask questions and seek out information and experiences that will increase your knowledge base.  Also, it is okay to make mistakes along the way. Your failures are actually opportunities to learn.  Don't be afraid to ask for help.
 
Jeff Simmonds, Senior Manager, National Specialty Leasing, Cadillac Fairview
 

What’s your top tip for identifying a creative solution to a real-life problem? What’s one example of a time you came up with a creative solution to a real-life problem?

My top tip is to learn what it means to "start with the end user in mind." In order to fully understand the problem, it's best to go to the end user – those affected by the problem – to pinpoint the problem and help uncover pain points that you can then solve for. 
 
An example of this would be at Cadillac Fairview where we went to our retailers and identified that there was a lack of break rooms / staff rooms in retail.  Understanding this pain point, we set out and created the "CF Lounge," a location for retail employees to take their break, heat their lunch, grab a glass of water, etc. We utilized unused shopping mall space to pull the idea together and it was a roaring success

What advice would you give your middle-school self? Consider how the skills you learned when you were younger influenced your career path.

FOLLOW YOUR PASSION! Pay attention to the things in which you are "overly interested." Learning this at a young age can help to set the tone for how your adult life will unfold, be it your career, how you raise a family, what you do in your spare time, etc.
 
Life will always throw curveballs and pressure your way. If you stay true to your passion(s) and remain your true self, accomplishing goals will not only seem easier but will be more fruitful!
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