Helping You Reach Your Potential: The CCCA Mentoring Program

  • August 15, 2022
  • Alison Tortorice

Helping You Reach Your Potential: The CCCA Mentoring Program

While we may think of mentorship as a way to advance our career, its many benefits go far beyond that. Being a mentor or mentee helps keep you in the game or play a better game. Mentors are often the support their mentees need to overcome an obstacle or reach higher, and mentees help mentors see how far they have come and perhaps where they would like to go next.

That is what makes the CCCA Mentoring Program so popular, with hundreds of in-house counsel matched every year. We spoke with Alison Tortorice, one of the program’s many participants, about her experience.

If you are inspired and wish to take part, you can find out more about the program and register on the CCCA’s website. The program is free for regular member.

Let’s begin with a bit about your background and your current role.

Alison: I grew up in Vancouver and moved to Toronto to attend the University of Toronto Law School. After graduation, I articled at a small real estate firm, and then moved to a mid-size firm to specialize in commercial leasing. After five years of great learning at the firm, I decided to pursue an in-house role to have greater visibility to business decisions and was fortunate to secure a position at Cadillac Fairview. I’ve now been here for 16 years!

In my current role, I lead the legal team focused on our retail assets across Canada. In addition to ensuring excellent service for our internal clients, I focus on streamlining processes and removing barriers to getting deals done. While some of this is accomplished through technology, most positive change happens through strong working relationships, collaboration and a willingness to experiment – things that are core to our company values.

Why did you enrol in the CCCA’s Mentoring Program?

Alison: The program is a great opportunity to connect with other in-house counsel to gain new perspectives and share common experiences. Mentoring relationships are honest, trusting exchanges, and we can learn so much from them. I have been a mentor for many years with different organizations, and it has always been a positive two-way experience.

What was your experience with the program?

Alison: This program makes it very easy to participate. It sets up clear expectations for the mentoring partnership, and the organizers take care to make matches that are a good fit. My mentorship partner and I had thoughtful and engaging discussions during our term and we have continued to stay in touch.

What did you learn from this experience that has helped you the most in your career?

Alison: I think there are two main things I’ve learned that will continue to help in my career.

The first is that we are not alone in our challenges. Whether you have hit a roadblock in your career or are wondering how to approach new responsibilities, there are others who have been through it and are happy to share what worked for them.

The second is the new perspectives that mentorship partners have shared with me. It’s very helpful to hear views and experiences that I might not come across in my own organization in order to develop a broader understanding of current issues for our businesses and the practice of law.

What is the best advice you’ve ever gotten?

Alison: I’ve been fortunate to have a strong mentor at Cadillac Fairview who has provided me with advice and feedback over several years. Having a mentor within the company is exceptionally useful. They share their insight into the company strategy and priorities, and help increase your profile.

I have also received great advice from the women at Toronto Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW). They encouraged me to put my name forward for all opportunities that interested me, including spending time as their President in 2019.

In both instances, I learned to speak up for what I desired and to align myself with others, internally and externally, who could support me in reaching my goals.