U/D Recognizes Female Leaders

March 18, 2019

A celebration of influential women who have made a positive impact on our community


While International Women’s Day was celebrated around the world on Tuesday, March 8, every day is an opportunity to recognize incredible women, and their impacts on our communities.


This month, we introduce some of the leading women contributing to University District’s development who have paved the way in their respective fields and left everlasting impressions. Whether they’ve spent years developing their engineering skills, or helming a luxury hotel chain or building a real estate brand, these accomplished women are leading in their professions, building families and kicking through that glass ceiling.


Each extraordinary woman is worth learning more about and we hope you’ll be as inspired by them as we are. Let’s meet them!


From Noble and Maple by Truman and Ivy by Brookfield to Aria by GraCorp and Cambridge Manor by Brenda Strafford Foundation. There’s so much happening right here in the heart of Northwest Calgary! Check out our wrap up of 2018 where we capture our favourite moments and hint at what you can expect this year!


Meet Donna Marzof, a single mother of twins and project manager extraordinaire


Donna Marzolf epitomizes a successful woman as the Senior project manager at our award-winning development company, West Campus Development Trust, with her leadership and contribution to the vision of developing University District as people first mindfully made community. Her greatest achievement though? Her twin daughters. Donna knows it’s not easy to juggle motherhood and a career and be successful in both. Here she tells us about her work-life flow and offers advice for a successful career.


How did you get to where you are in your career today?


I grew up on a farm in rural Saskatchewan where logic, creativity, mathematical and mechanical skills dominated farm life. When it came time to choose a career path, engineering seemed like a natural fit.

At the time of my graduation, it was uncommon for women to become engineers, let alone in the construction and development industry. The odds were stacked against me from the moment I stepped into the field but my drive and love for engineering gave me the strength to rise to the challenge. As a result, I’m working in a role that I’m truly passionate about.

The excitement for me as senior project manager for West Campus Development Trust is walking through a bare parcel of land as you visualize the change, piecing all the moving parts together to come up with a plan of what will become of an empty space. It’s an incredible feeling to go from a blank slate to a community that people call home!



As a single mom of twin girls, how do you find work-life balance?


As a single working mother, you never quite feel like you are making it work. But somehow, magically, on a daily basis, the meetings happen, the kids are fed, homework gets done, and the kitchen doesn’t look like a complete disaster.


I realize that I lead at work and at home, and the skill sets are no different. The only difference is how I flow between them. It’s proven to be quite the balancing act but setting the boundary to focus separately on family and work is key. My inbox is never empty, but I make sure my computer and phone are away (although we all give in sometimes!) so I’m not tempted to respond during family time. It’s hard to disconnect from work, but it makes time with my girls that much more enjoyable and keeps my mental and physical health in check!


If you could give one piece of career advice, what would it be?


Step outside the box. Know and believe you have the ability to do something different than the norm. In doing so, you’ll unlock your true potential and that right there can be a game changer!


Fast Facts about Donna

● She is a twin and one of seven siblings.
● She studied civil engineering.
● She enjoys skiing with her girls, kiteboarding, mountain biking and kayaking in her spare time.




NW Calgary fans have a reason to celebrate! Six new retailers, including OEB Breakfast Co. and YYC Cycle join U/D’s line up, bringing the total announced to 15 and there’s more to come! Read on to see which other beloved brands are joining our thriving retail community


Introducing Marie Pier, the powerhouse behind the Alt Hotels experience


For over ten years, Marie Pier Germain has worked for the family business, Canadian boutique hotelier Group Germain Hotels. Although the company was co-founded by her mother and uncle, Marie Pier has worked her way to the top by demonstrating her skills as a manager and taking initiative with new hotel projects. She started her career by folding towels and waiting on tables, but now she is the operations director and leading woman behind the Alt Hotel brand – the chic, unconventional, design-oriented hotel that will be coming to U/D in fall of 2020. The 15-storey, 156-room hotel Alt Hotel Calgary University District will be Marie Pier’s third project in Calgary, a unique mix-used development that will include a retail component and connected to the August by Avi Urban.


Excited about the future of Group Germain Hotels, Marie Pier shares with us what motivates her at work and the importance of finding a career you’re passionate about.


What do you love most about your role as operations director?


Every day is different. As operations director, I work closely with the architects and designers to bring together a vision that marries our knowledge and talents to bring a project to life. Every detail matters! From the layout of our spaces and amenities we offer to how the experience of our guest is considered into the development. There’s never a dull moment!


With a busy, ever-changing schedule, there’s always a meeting that makes it a little more fun. Meetings with interior decorators to discuss unique lobby designs to a perfume designer to create a signature smell for a hotel, or tasting a menu with a potential chef partner — it keeps me on my toes and wanting more. Routine does not exist but the creativity, liveliness and challenge of it all are what I love most!



When did you realize working for Group Germain Hotels was your true calling?


Being born into the hotel industry gave me early exposure to the dynamic and evolving world of development and hospitality. To this day, I have fond memories of strolling down the halls and watching my mom prep the kitchen. It was where I spent my evenings and weekends, and studied after school. It was my second home!
I knew early on in my studies I didn’t want an office job where I ran calculations all day. After studying engineering, I made the decision to join the family business and started on Calgary’s first Group Germain Hotel project, Le Germain Hotel. Seeing an idea turn into something tangible was invigorating! I knew then that this was where I wanted and needed to be, and I haven’t looked back since.


If you could give one piece of career advice, what would it be?


Whether it’s my role as a mom or a leader to my team, life is about putting more tools in our toolbox. Take on more responsibilities and learn from your mistakes. Everyone gets it wrong sometimes. In fact, most things I’ve learned were by doing it wrong the first time – it’s part of the growing pains of acquiring life and work experiences. It makes us stronger.


Fast Facts about Marie Pier

● She is a mother to two young children.
● She studied engineering and more recently completed her e-MBA.
● She is living out her dream of being a ballerina with weekly ballet dance classes.



Our partnership with Brookfield Residential runs deep. Capella is Brookfield’s newest addition to U/D’s housing line up and is the next big thing on the home front. Drawing inspiration from southern California, Capella features a collection of contemporary condos and a luxurious selection of single-level residences. Curious to learn more about Capella? Take a look here.


Say hello to Tiffany Ardolino, creative and passionate modern marketer


The phrase “having it all” is different for many women, and for Tiffany Ardolino, Senior Manager of Customer Development with University District builder partner Brookfield Residential, it’s all about enjoying life with a smile on her face and a pep in her step. What does that look like? Her thriving career keeps her grounded, while she’s chosen to challenge herself by continuing her education with an e-MBA program. And prioritizing her family to make sure there’s a balance and downtime for her personal life, is not an easy feat.


Tiffany shares with us how she started in the real estate profession as a modern marketer and her passion for her role and team.


How did you start your career?


Finding a job you love is often a bit of a journey. I knew at an early age I loved advertising. I was fashion-obsessed and used to browse through magazines, clipping everything I liked. Even when I was young, there was always a piece of me that enjoyed the visual nature of marketing; the ability to tell and sell a meaningful story with imagery and words.


After graduating with my Bachelor of Management in Marketing, I ended up working with my dad who worked in the real estate industry and I fell in love with an industry that keeps you on your toes. Whether it’s market conditions, new product innovations, or up and coming communities, there’s always an opportunity to put your skills to the test and bring creative ideas to the table. It’s fun and creative!


There’s also something to be said about being part of an industry that has a lasting effect and has a tangible, long-term outcome. I can drive through a community and walk through a showhome that I helped market – it’s an everlasting feeling to know that I participated in how a home or community came to be.




What’s a day in the life of Tiffany look life?


Every day is different, which I think is to be expected nowadays, especially in an industry that craves more innovation. You can’t rinse and repeat, which keeps things interesting!


A typical Monday starts with checking sales – foot traffic, web traffic, registrations – to get a pulse on the health of the business. From there I meet with team members and identify our priorities for the month.


Next, I’ll connect with the product development team and this is where things get fun! Here we discuss what new home models need to be developed, review new designs and work with the marketing team to add their flair and creative lens so we can deliver the best product and experience possible. It’s a very customer-centric role that offers the perfect balance between creativity and business.


I’m fortunate to work with a dedicated team that loves what they do, which makes my job easier to love and appreciate.


If you could give one piece of career advice, what would it be?


Be assertive. It shows you are engaged and interested and is a key quality that has helped me get to where I am today. More importantly, you need to believe in yourself or surround yourself with people who believe in you. After all, positive reinforcement from time to time is needed, and encouragement keeps you motivated no matter what line of work you’re in.

Fast Facts about Tiffany

● She is pursuing her e-MBA.
● She is the mother of two boys.
● In her spare time, she enjoys skiing, golf, spending quality time with friends and family

At University District, we’re a community that celebrates women and their achievements, whether in their personal or professional lives. Is there an inspirational woman in your life that you want us to recognize? We want to hear from you! Connect with us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, or leave a comment below.

Do you know an inspiring female leader in the community that we should be profiling? Have tips for blog topics you want to share? We want to hear from you! Share your suggestions with us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.


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