Rooted in success

A conversation with Tina Naqvi-Rota, CEO of family-owned Cameron Development Corporation

Prosperous businesses have remarkable leaders at their helms, and Cameron Development Corporation — an Edmonton-based and family-owned commercial real estate development company that has created, owned and operated some of the most notable retail projects in Alberta — is no exception. 

We reached out to Cameron Development Corporation’s CEO Tina Naqvi-Rota ('95 MBA) to learn about her professional journey, what keeps her inspired and how she’s continuing to grow her family’s thriving business. 

Can you tell us about Cameron Corporation and what values are its core?

We are a ground-up privately-held real estate development company specializing in open-air retail development. Examples of some of our developments include South Edmonton Common, Currents of Windermere and Manning Town Centre. In addition, we have developed many residential subdivisions under Cameron Communities, including Cavanagh, Manning Village, Charlesworth and Saxony Glenn.

I like to think of our business’ mantra as, “we say what we are going to do, and we do as we say.” Our company is well known in the industry for its core values: integrity and honesty; the reputation of excellence (internal and external); and social responsibility. These core values incorporate our commitment to family, both our own and that of our employees and other important relations.

What is the history of the company? 

Cameron Corporation was started in 1980 by my parents, Javaid (Jerry) and Henrietta Naqvi. The company experienced difficult times between 1981 to the early 1990s, but fortunately, we were able to hold on. 

Having joined in 1991, I have been fortunate enough to work with my parents, my two siblings, my husband, one of my brothers-in-law and our 65+ employees.

Can you describe your journey to becoming CEO and what this role has taught you?

I’ve worked in our family business for most of my career. Notwithstanding this fact, this role was not handed to me. When I was 13 years old, I was in charge of the company’s janitorial services and slowly worked my way up.  

After I completed my civil engineering degree in 1991 and my MBA in 1995 — both from the U of A — I started working in the office and eventually was honoured to eventually become CEO. I hadn’t actually intended to take on this role in my family’s business, but it was a difficult time to find a job after my graduation and my parents needed someone who deeply understood the business — so it was meant to be! 

Since becoming CEO, I have been part of growing Cameron Corporation from four employees to over 65, with multiple divisions as well as many subsidiaries and off-shoots. Every day is different and has its unique challenges; however, learning every single role in the organization and having been on the ground in my previous roles, as CEO I am able to afford an overall view of our organization and provide mentoring and advice to our employees.

Another important role of the CEO is the public relations role. I am routinely meeting with institutions, politicians, business groups and boards. For example, I am currently on the Business Advisory Council (BAC) to the dean at the Alberta School of Business and a board member at Norquest College, and I am active with other government and business committees.

Can you tell us more about Business Advisory Council and why you decided to be a part of the council?

Back in 2016, former Dean Joseph Doucet asked me to join BAC. This position has given me the opportunity to give back to the university that provided me with my education and contributed to who I am today. 

I have enjoyed the fact that members are from various graduation years and business backgrounds, as well as coming from diverse geographic locations. I find the input given at the meetings is not only valuable for the university, but it has taught me a lot as well.

Lastly, who is your biggest inspiration? 

My father Jerry Naqvi is my biggest inspiration. With only $287 dollars and a scholarship in hand, in 1964 my father left his family and his native Pakistan and came to Toronto on a quest to make a future. With his commitment to community, hard work, ethics, honesty and integrity, he is an inspiration to many, and I am proud to be his daughter.

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