Director, Colliers Project Leaders
Arlene Dedier is a seasoned project management professional with an extensive background in development, architecture, and construction management. A respected leader and director at Colliers, she is also an immigrant woman of colour who has risen to the top in a male-dominated field. As a tireless champion of women, Arlene has built an inclusive and diverse team of project managers, with women representing 50% of project managers in the private sector and 40% of national regional business leaders. Arlene continues to break down barriers and change the landscape of the construction industry.
How She Made Change
Over the last 10 years, Arlene has not only led women but has advocated for their promotion throughout the organization, successfully building a pipeline of young women leaders in a male-dominated field. One example is her recommendation for the regional promotion of women to leadership positions.
For the last two years, Arlene has overseen the Colliers Corporate Office Committee (CCOC), which includes 50% women and promotes a peer-to-peer exchange of best practices and learnings through open discussions and presentations. As part of CCOC, she teaches and offers guidance about the skills needed to become a project leader.
Arlene empowers her team by ensuring that women have a clear path, goals, and the means to surpass even their personal aspirations. Arlene pushes everyone in the organization to pay attention to their own unconscious biases against other business lines and one another, and she demonstrates how the organization can work to become an engine for change.
Arlene’s leadership approach has resulted in new avenues of revenue in three new regional markets: Moncton, Halifax, and Ottawa. Two of her most recent endeavors—in which she acted as the Customer Relationship Manager for delivering over a half dozen projects across Canada—were successfully led by teams with 60% women.
The One Colliers methodology, an organizational cross-collaboration response to clients’ real estate needs, has transformed Colliers’ Private Sector business. With Arlene at the helm, One Colliers has both provided innovative solutions for clients and built a diverse team of women and men who are innovative, empathetic, understanding, and intuitive. The methodology has created new opportunities for women in the company and allowed them to challenge the status quo in male-dominated industries such as real estate and construction. The One Colliers National Regional Team is made up of a diverse group of six women who are now the company’s go-to experts. Through One Colliers, they have created new models for this methodology and encouraged their male counterparts through various opportunities for collaboration.
Arlene joined the Colliers Diversity and Inclusion team in the Fall of 2019 as part of the Leadership Team for Colliers International. The 2020 Diversity and Inclusion focus is on building awareness and creating an inclusive workplace through four pillars: Leadership, Champions Network, Communications, and Internal Platform programs. There has been marked success under the Leadership pillar thus far, with 43% of mentees in the mentorship program being promoted. The team also implemented new programs to track progress in diverse and inclusive hiring. From 2016 to 2019, the proportion of women hires has increased in Canada from 41% to 48%.
Arlene has helped create a platform to mobilize individual differences as drivers for changing how employees have worked and serviced our clients. As part of her research for the One Colliers initiative, Arlene sat down with a diverse group of market leaders and business lines from each region within the organization—a Guiding Coalition—to gather information. This created a level of transparency that allowed for positive knowledge transfer and resulted in building stronger, more successful teams that included women for the first time.
Arlene demonstrates courage by not being afraid to point out the issues she sees in the company, but she does so in a non-divisive way that empowers all participants to enact change. By having these conversations, she encourages men to pay attention and recognize the problems many women and underrepresented groups face.
About Arlene Dedier
With over 25 years of experience, Arlene Dedier has an extensive background in architecture and construction management in the commercial, retail, and hospitality industry. She has a proven ability to direct new build, fit-up, and renovations projects, overseeing several multi-million-dollar ventures. With a lifelong interest in design, Arlene began a career in architecture and real estate development following the completion of her Architecture degree at Carleton University. Early on, she focused on managing development and construction, establishing herself as a designer and project manager for a large US development firm. Over the past 10 years, she has grown the Colliers private sector business in Canada. In her first year, her service line achieved a 150% growth in revenue that has only increased year after year. As it stands, there has been a total increase in revenue of 700%. Arlene’s passion for diversity and inclusion is evident in her interactions with clients and colleagues—as well as in the successful projects Colliers has built.