Kristopher Banner ('20 MBA)

Kathy Pham, BAA Communications Committee Volunteer - 19 April 2022

Kristopher Banner ('20 MBA) is the director of Real Estates and Projects at ATB Financial as well as a sessional lecturer at the University of Alberta. While attending the Alberta School of Business, Kristopher was the co-president for the University of Alberta Real Estate Club and VP external for the MBA Association. In his real estate development class, he led his classmates to win a semester-long case competition called ”The Battle of Alberta” which led to the school winning the “Golden Shovel” against competing schools across Western Canada. From starting with an engineering degree to completing an MBA, Kristopher now uses his skills, experience and knowledge to challenge himself every day.


BAA: What led you to pursue an MBA at the Alberta School of Business?

Kristopher: Having completed my undergraduate degree in civil engineering, I began my career in general contracting and consulting project management. I found myself working for many organizations where I would be involved with real estate development and business planning, and I didn’t feel like I had the base of knowledge needed to be successful long term.

The MBA program at the U of A is one of the only programs that offers some of the specializations that I was seeking while delivering it flexibly in a part-time method. Specifically, I was looking to focus my degree on real estate and data analytics to help me round out my skillset in the real estate development world.

BAA: Tell us about your MBA experience. What are your favourite memories?

Kristopher: There are many amazing memories I have from my MBA. I could go on about some of the cool projects I completed or places I traveled for case competitions, but the one that sticks out for me is winning the “Golden Shovel.” The real estate development class pits the University of Alberta up against competing schools in Western Canada in a semester-long case competition. The case is based on a parcel of land owned by a developer looking to determine the highest and best use. Each school creates an entire plan for the land from financing, design, costs, and marketing. I was a leader in the class, helping guide the team of over thirty students to the end. When we were given the news that we won, it was amazing to see all that hard work pay off. I think that class took more effort than my engineering and MBA capstone projects combined.

BAA: What was the impact of your involvement in student groups as a student and as an alumni?

Kristopher: I was involved with the MBA Association (MBAA) and the University of Alberta Real Estate Club (UARC). I always tell anyone interested in an MBA that there are three parts to an MBA. The technical skills you learn from class, the networking you accomplish from your cohort and project work and finally the extracurriculars and the skills you learn from navigating student groups.

The interpersonal skills and management skills I picked up from working with people from different walks of life and different ages are invaluable. They have helped me to this day to manage my team members and help strategically guide the groups and teams I am on.

BAA: What opportunities and experiences have helped you get to where you are today?

Kristopher: Real estate was a passion of mine coming into my MBA. Upon learning, it became an obsession. My network within the real estate world exploded while I was a student. When you cold call or email someone as a working professional they are convinced you're trying to sell them something. When you reach out to them as a student asking for advice, information, or sponsorship they seem to always make the time. Leveraging my VP external position (MBAA) and co-pesident (UARC) roles, I was able to secure some excellent sponsors for our student groups, but also make some industry connections that I work with to this day.

BAA: Can you tell us more about your current job? What kind of work are you doing?

Kristopher: After working in general contracting, real estate development and project management consulting for 10 years, I was seeking something more. I had worked on and completed some of Edmonton’s biggest buildings, but the allure of working on mega projects for the rest of my career was waning. What I found most exciting about the work I completed over the years was not what I was building but rather who I was building it with. Upon graduating from my MBA, I shifted my career away from large scale projects and instead towards a more positive culture and team environment organization. That is how I found myself at ATB Financial.

As ATB's director of real estate and projects, I oversee all of ATB's construction and real estate strategy to achieve the creation and optimization of space to assist in translating the complex world of banking and investing into brilliantly simple solutions. ATB has over 300 locations across the country with expansion beginning. My position combines all the schooling I have ever taken and challenges me every day. The engineering principles and construction management combined with the real estate and business ideation marry up to be an excellent match.

The two teams I lead have varying skill sets, but being part of the business operations for ATB, I often immediately get associated with banking. Many people assume that the completion of my MBA and joining ATB means I got into finance (…ew, no thanks). The projects team has project professionals, engineers, architects and interior designers while the real estate team has strategists, data analysts, and leasing professionals.

Along with my job at ATB, I am also currently a sessional instructor at the University of Alberta. I teach ENG M 402, Project Management and Entrepreneurship and ENG M 530, Engineering Project Management. ENG M 402 introduces students to the conceptual and practical considerations in identifying and developing new ventures and products and ENG 530 focuses on project management that digs into its fundamentals as a whole.

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