Rick Turner had been in banking for eight years when, in 1988, two businessmen took a chance on him and asked him to join them in a real estate venture. That one leap of faith sent his career on a whole different trajectory, and he eventually became president and CEO of International Aviation Terminals (IAT), overseeing the development, management, and operation of aviation infrastructure and facilities for airports. The experience became a guiding principle for him. “I don’t believe anyone can be successful without mentors who take a chance on them,” he says. “Throughout my career, people would come along and give me a nudge and sage advice when I needed it, and now I try and do the same for other people.”
Turner helped IAT go public on the Toronto Stock Exchange in 1997, and by then it was the second income fund in the country; but in 2003, the company was sold, and Turner was left searching for his next big opportunity. “While I was head of a public company, I started getting calls about serving on boards,” he says. “Folks were looking for independent directors, and my banking and management experience appealed to them.” He has since served on boards for both for-profit and nonprofit entities, including the British Columbia Lottery Corporation, Port Metro Vancouver, Insurance Corporation of BC, and the Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, and along the way he has found new ways to take both himself and others to new heights.
Six years ago, Turner formed TitanStar Properties Inc., a public company, to acquire real estate in the United States, stretching from Texas to the West Coast, and today he serves as the president and CEO of the firm as well as of TitanStar Investment Group Inc., a family-owned holding company and parent company to various businesses.
In addition to his many business ventures, Turner is committed to mentoring and community involvement, and he concentrates on education and health care. “I chose education because I believe education and mentoring are essential for success, and I chose health care because many people near to me have been affected by serious health issues,” he says. “I’m not a doctor or nurse, but I can give time helping with fund-raising for facilities, research, and equipment.”
Miles that Richard Turner flew in 2014, pursuing business objectives
Mentees that he has formally mentored in the past four years
Public companies that he sits as director of
Federal agency that he sits as director of
Separate airport buildings that IAT developed and owned in seven cities and two countries before the company was sold
He also really enjoys any opportunity he can find to serve as a mentor or help others serve as mentors. “Schools give students skills, but they have to learn how to find a job and network,” he says. “My whole circle is committed to this, whether it’s providing formal mentoring or simply introducing folks to the right people.” Turner feels it’s important to help train tomorrow’s leaders. “Once we’ve all retired, someone has to take over,” he says. “I want to make sure they’re ready.”
His first mentee was a woman in a master’s program who couldn’t decide which career path to follow. “I set her up with a bunch of CEOs in Vancouver,” Turner says. “After seeing those possibilities, she was considering other options. So I suggested finance—going into banking or becoming a fund manager. She decided to go the finance route. I introduced her to a company, and now she’s heading the office in Toronto.”
One of the advantages of having a mentor, according to Turner, is that it gives you a different perspective. “With my mentee, at one point, she was trying to decide between two opportunities,” he says. “One paid better, but the other would provide valuable experience. She wanted to go for the money. I suggested looking at the big picture and going for more experience.”
Turner also played a crucial role in the early days of the Leaders of Tomorrow program. “We chose 20 university students per year and invited them to attend Vancouver Board of Trade events and network for free,” he says. “I personally funded the program for two years. Now it has its own funding and works with 200 students.”
Turner is a man of boundless energy, and there’s still plenty more he hopes to accomplish on his own and for those working for him. “From a business perspective, I want to turn my public company into an REIT, and I’m determined to do it,” he says. “My personal goal is to create more than 24 hours in a day, but so far I haven’t been successful.”