5 Questions: Bosa Properties’ Sally Parrott talks diversifying the development industry and her Aritzia past

The executive vice-president of Bosa is making her mark on the company

1. You joined Bosa Properties Inc. (BPI) right after the pandemic started. What was it like joining at that time and how have things progressed for you since?

It was really interesting. My last day with Aritzia was March 13, 2020. I was meant to be starting with BPI right away. However, we couldn’t imagine at that point in time a universe in which you’d start remotely. So I delayed it and didn’t start until September 2020, because we kept thinking that we would be going back into office imminently. When it became evident that this wasn’t going to be the case, we decided that I just needed to start. We were fully remote; it feels like a million years ago now. It was challenging. In some respects, you just adapt, figure it out. Trying to build those relationships with new teams and partners when everything is entirely remote is a challenge.

2. You must have done it pretty well—you were promoted this year (from senior VP, customer, digital and technology, to EVP). What are some of the things you’re most proud of in your time with BPI?

It’s unusual in real estate development to hire from outside the industry. Particularly for my role at a leadership level. Colin [Bosa], my boss, gave me a lot of leeway as far as identifying other resources I thought would be best for the team. The unique opportunity I had was because I was structuring and building a team from the ground up and was putting the puzzle pieces together from different industries. I was able to hire Jen Riley from EA as my VP [of brand and communications]. I hired someone from event management and another that came from Herschel Supply Co. I was able to put together a team that was going to have unique capabilities in what they did. I also partnered with people who are on the team that have a lot of deep expertise and have been there for a lot of years. Finding that balance of the right talent and right resources to come in from outside the industry and figuring out how to combine them with people who have a lot of expertise was part and parcel of that.

3. What are some similarities that you’ve found in the retail and real estate industries?

When you think about the experience of buying a home, the interplay of what you need to physically experience, particularly in pre-sale—being able to touch, see and feel what the home will be and visualize something that doesn’t exist yet—coming from retail, there’s that omnichannel relationship between the retail store and the digital environment. At Aritzia, I was there from the inception of ecommerce and having to make those decisions around how we could allow someone to buy clothing online. Fifteen, 20 years ago, that was unimaginable.

4. Speaking of Aritzia, there was an Insider article that came out recently with some hefty allegations about that company’s workplace culture. You were a member of the senior leadership team for over 10 years. It couldn’t have been a great feeling to see that people felt that way at the company.

No, of course not. To see that people had that experience is extremely difficult. It’s important to acknowledge that experience, seek to understand and do better when you need to do better. Regardless of whether or not that experience aligns with your own or you were directly responsible. In a high growth environment, where there’s high expectations, a lot of pressure and a very specific way of working, it can be challenging at the best of times. As an organization scales and evolves it needs to learn and adapt—as does its leadership. I have an enormous amount of faith in that leadership team’s ability to do that—they care very much about their people and their experience there.

5. For our Leadership issue we asked some of B.C.’s most influential folks about the best leadership advice they’ve ever received. What say you?

When I was as younger, how I accomplished things was by driving forward. Give me the ball and I will take it down the field. This ball is going past that goal line, and if I need to drag everyone with me, I will. What I had to learn through advice and experience is that you’re far more likely to get the ball down the field and past the line if you’ve engaged and inspired the people who are there with you, rather than just trying to drag them through. I know it sounds simple, but it’s something I’ve had to learn. You don’t have to be the knower of all things.


Hobbies: Skiing, hiking, swimming—I like to be outside

Last book I read: Unleashed by Frances Frei

Favourite recent TV show: Shrinking

Most memorable concert: Sting with Tracy Chapman at an outdoor amphitheatre in Ohio

Pet peeve: Excuses

Guilty pleasure: TikTok—my friends are over it with my forwards