As president of Strand, a Vancouver-based real estate finance, development and investment company, Mike Mackay has real estate in his blood.
He took the helm at Strand in 2014 when it was focused on financing developers mainly in the U.S. Under Mackay, Strand has achieved significant growth in less than four years and successfully expanded into the local market.
“I have seen many of my friends struggle to afford to live in Vancouver, a city they grew up in, so I saw an opportunity to take action by building a variety of housing types for people from a diverse range of backgrounds,” he said.
Known as a calculated risk taker and skilled real estate entrepreneur, Mackay has formed lasting partnerships with investor groups and major banks. Heading a team of 12 employees, he has established a reputation for leading by example, collaborating and maintaining a flat organization.
He developed a passion for buildings at an early age, subscribing to Winston Churchill’s maxim: “We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us.”
“I am passionate about real estate because it is intimately intertwined with almost everything we do, every day,” said Mackay.
While he learned the ropes from his father, John Mackay, who founded Strand more than 40 years ago, he gained solid industry experience elsewhere. After graduating from the University of Victoria with a bachelor of arts, Mackay worked as a developer at Onni Group of Companies, where he was promoted twice and was responsible for the development of nine residential and commercial sites across Metro Vancouver. Mackay later worked for Dayhu Capital as manager of lending, acquisitions and development.
Mackay lives in Vancouver with his wife, Sophie, and two children. He is a member of the Urban Development Institute, the Greater Vancouver Home Builders’ Association, Urban Land Institute and Greater Vancouver Board of Trade. He is a member of the St. Paul’s Foundation Future Leaders committee, sits on the community engagement board of the BC Centre on Substance Use and is a board member for Youth Education Farms and for Face of Today.
Where you live now: Kitsilano, Vancouver
Highest level of education: Bachelor of arts (history), University of Victoria
Currently reading: Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success by Adam Grant
Currently listening to: “Loud Places” by Jamie xx
When you were a kid, what you wanted to be when you grew up: Professional athlete
Profession you would most like to try: Archeologist
Toughest business or professional decision: Deciding to leave a comfortable, well-paying job in order to risk it all starting a real estate development company in a market with a notoriously high barrier to entry
Advice you would give the younger you: Don’t worry so much – everything will be all right
What’s left to do: To build an international real estate investment and development company and to deliver homes in urban locations across the world