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How to build a team in Montréal: a case study with Real Dev Labs

Géraud Banlier

Lead, Executive Search, AURA

July 31, 2023

An ambitious project needs an ambitious leader. Shortly after announcing a new hub in Montréal, Silverstein Properties, the New York real estate company that redeveloped and now manages the World Trade Center, among other buildings in the United States, needed that ambitious leader to lead its ambitious project.

Four people posing for a picture, smiling

Stéphane Paquet, President and CEO of Montréal International, Valérie Plante, Mayor of Montréal, Tal Kerret, President of Silverstein Properties and Dara McQuillan, Chief Marketing Officer at Silverstein Properties, visited the World Trade Center in May 2022.


Faced with the challenge of a remote search for a key position in a completely new location, Silverstein’s leadership turned to Montréal-based AURA Executive Search, a division of Sourcinc, to find the right captain to build a strong software engineering team. 

How did a New York-based company manage to get going efficiently in Montréal? It’s an interesting case study, a story we are proud to share. Here you go. 

The task at hand 

For Silverstein Properties, the priority was to find the right person to put together the team and quickly start building a marketplace platform designed to provide services and amenities to the real estate management sector. 

This mission required a unique mix of skills and experience: successful startup experience, preferably as cofounder or very early-stage leader was a must. The right candidate also had to be fluent in the targeted stack and able to get his or her hands dirty before the team grows, not only a true strategic leader but also one who isn’t too far removed from the code. 

The approach to success 

AURA’s approach to executive talent sourcing is perfectly suited to creating core teams from scratch as was the case with Silverstein Properties. We combine an extensive network of tech executives with a highly targeted, custom search strategy to reach and engage with passive profiles who have the required background and to convert them into actual candidates – before moving on to the selection and offer stages.  

As our President Sébastien Savard puts it: sourcing means identifying interesting profiles and converting them into interested candidates, whereas traditional recruitment is about gathering interested candidates and filtering out the interesting ones, if any. 

Talent sourcing has the added advantage of generating many high-quality conversations with engaged, astute executives allowing for a unique window into the market with insights on your talent pool and their pain points, compensation data, your local competition, as well as new perspectives on the business plan itself. This not only ensures a better-informed decision on this hire but also an enhanced understanding of the local talent and business landscape. 

It’s a match! 

Over 20 conversations later, Silverstein flew the finalists to New York to meet the hiring team in person. Stéphane Drouin was hired as VP of R&D in September 2022 and quickly got to setting up Real Dev Labs, the Montréal startup serving as the tech arm for customer facing products at Silverstein Properties. 

So far in his tenure, the focus has been on building and nurturing a high-performing engineering team from scratch while fostering a culture of inclusivity, innovation, and excellence. The team members work closely with each other to establish technical standards, project management methodologies and quality assurance processes that encourage collaboration, continuous learning, and growth.   

On the product side, a first iteration of the marketplace was a high priority goal. The team built a minimum viable product (the equivalent of a first draft) of the platform and went to production with internal clients at Silverstein Properties in April 2023. Making use of their years of experience in software development and a deep understanding of the needs of the real estate market, Real Dev Labs’ new platform is a powerful, user-friendly, and customizable solution that simplifies the process of finding and offering services and amenities for properties. 

This case study highlights the importance of leveraging local expertise to understand your talent landscape, as well as the value of the talent sourcing approach for engaging with executive level candidates and its added benefit for supporting critical decisions regarding your core team. 

With the right leader at the helm and a dedicated team working towards a common goal, Real Dev Labs has the potential to make a significant impact in the proptech industry, and Montréal is poised to benefit from the opportunities this new hub brings to the local tech ecosystem. Now that Stéphane and his team are picking up speed, we can’t wait to see what is next!