Every family has a story. For John McCarthy’s family, that story is deeply rooted in philanthropy.
John’s great grandparents were immigrants to Canada from Czechoslovakia. When John’s great grandfather, John Jambor, lost his wife, Joan, to cancer, he set in motion the family’s legacy of giving by making a substantial donation to the BC Cancer Foundation in 1972. Since then, that passion for giving back to their new country has continued to inspire the family’s legacy of charitable giving.
Today, the BCIT alumnus says he lives by the guiding philosophy passed down from his great-grandfather: Work hard, live well, and give back.
“That’s been our family’s guiding principle through generations. We believe that, along with doing well and being successful, comes living well and giving back to others,” explains John, who was recently named the youngest Board Chair in the 86-year history for BC Cancer Foundation. He has big plans for the future of cancer care including promoting the organization’s 10-year plan, which involves building regional cancer centres throughout the province.
A passion for community, cancer care, and real estate
Born and raised in Burnaby, John is particularly passionate about developing philanthropic initiatives in the area. His family is also supporting the new $1.4 billion Burnaby Hospital development, which will see not only a new hospital, but a state-of-the art BC Cancer centre.
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“It’s a really meaningful thing for our family because it allows the two major causes that we’ve supported for generations to come together,” says John, emphasizing the positive impact that having a world-class cancer clinic in Burnaby will have on the local community.
John applies the ‘work hard’ pillar of his life’s motto as Vice President of his family’s company W.P.J. McCarthy and Company Ltd. The family business owns and operates a privately held real estate portfolio, concentrated in Burnaby and Greater Vancouver. John is responsible for all management and leasing functions for the portfolio.
“I’m a real estate agent by trade, so I’m responsible for marketing and leasing all the space in our portfolio,” explains John. “I’m involved in several different asset classes, mostly between commercial, retail, and industrial, and also a fair amount in residential real estate.”
He adds what keeps him passionate about the industry: “Real estate markets in Greater Vancouver are very tight right now and there is a lot of upwards pressure on price. It’s competitive. It’s fast-paced. So, you really have to be on your toes to keep up.”
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John’s advice for starting a career in real estate
John is a two-time BCIT alumnus, graduating from the BCIT Marketing Management – Professional Real Estate diploma program in 2010 and earning his Bachelor of Business Administration in 2011.
As a child, John entertained a broad range of career ideas, but eventually he honed in on business. It was his father who encouraged him to enrol in BCIT’s real estate program after high school.
John says he was interested in attending BCIT for the smaller class sizes and opportunity to learn a specialty and connect with real industry professionals.
Today, John is an advocate for the program: “If I were talking to someone who wanted to get into real estate, I would tell them to start with BCIT.”
“Real estate is hyper competitive, so you need to differentiate yourself to stand out,” advises John. “I would say the first step towards that is education, and then understanding your local markets.”
John encourages others to seek mentorship like he had from his father: “My dad is an extraordinarily accomplished person in the real estate industry. I’m very aware how lucky I am to be taken under his wing.”
He adds that it wasn’t just real estate mentorship he received from his father, but also mentorship for how to imbed a culture of giving back into his life. He hopes to inspire others to seek mentorship and find a cause to which they feel passionate about giving back.