– Words by Angela Cowan Photography by Don Denton
Chiara Sulyok is passionate about encouraging others to follow their dreams, and her own life is a prime example of what can be achieved when you follow your heart.
From her earliest years, Chiara had a love of carpentry and construction, and learned everything she could from her father. But her first forays into a career took her into horticulture and commercial landscaping.
“I do have quite a passion for gardening and greenery,” she says. “I did do quite a few years in horticulture, and from there that rolled into hardscapes. Then in my early 30s I decided to go back to school for carpentry.”
She worked hands-on in the industry for several years before being offered a project management position with Alair Homes about eight years ago.
“I never thought of doing that, but I’m glad I did,” she says.
From there she was offered general manager, and soon after she was offered the spot of regional partner.
“My role now is to work with all the locations on Vancouver Island and two locations in Arizona,” she explains, adding that her role is different from what she’d expected when she first started out in the construction industry, but no less satisfying.
“I love working with people and I love construction,” she enthuses. “I love the journey of meeting with a client, them presenting their vision, us bringing the vision to paper and then building that vision on raw land.”
Chiara has been settled in the picturesque Yellow Point area for over 20 years, and has been using her skills and knowledge to remodel and renovate, and create her dream home.
Having just completed a large renovation project, Chiara’s moving onto the exterior landscapes, pulling from her earlier experiences to create an oasis in her backyard, and it’s clear that working hands-on in construction and landscaping still gives her immense satisfaction.
“For myself in construction, it wasn’t easy. And, yes, there are ups and downs and many, many challenges,” she says. “I just want to let anyone out there know that if you have a dream, and you have a passion, you should follow it. For my husband and me, for both of our careers, the roads haven’t always been easy, but you push through because you’ll learn some sort of lesson from it that will help you down the road. Every place in life and every job you go to will always lead to more experience.”
The 7 Sins
Whose shoes would you like to walk in?
Nicole Curtis from Rehab Addict. Nicole’s passion and drive in the construction industry show strength. She’s creative and works hands-on alongside her team while embracing every challenge that comes her way. Nicole’s passion for restoring older homes gives her the opportunity to give back to the community while embracing motherhood at the same time. She is truly an inspiring individual who thrives on creating change.
What is the food you could eat over and over again?
When gluttony comes to mind, there is nothing like indulging in my mother’s famous Italian cookies. The smell of freshly baked treats gathers us around her kitchen. Once a year, she bakes my favourite cookie: a walnut and chocolate blend encapsulated in a fresh pastry dough. It’s one of a kind. This family recipe just tops my close second, braided Easter bread.
You’re given $1 million that you have to spend selfishly. What would you spend it on?
I would buy a beachside bungalow in the heart of Costa Rica for a family getaway, and right next door, a casita for my mother to relax. There would be endless sunsets for us all to enjoy while basking in the heat of the tropical paradise.
Entitlement. People who think and act like they deserve success without working for it.
Where would you spend a long time doing nothing?
A hot, sandy beach where I could unplug and take a break from reality and lose myself a little. There is nothing like the sound of the tide moving in and pulling itself over the sand like a blanket.
What is the one thing you’re secretly proud of?
I love my drive. I truly believe anything is possible. Once I set my goals and envision the final outcome, I will work my way up until I succeed.
What makes your heart beat faster?
There are two things that light me up. First, I always enjoy a good challenge and being able to solve problems. In construction, there’s never a dull moment and it adds a little fuel to my fire! Secondly, it exhilarates me to work with people who strive to learn, grow and succeed. To see team members excel at their passions and embrace every little bit of the journey makes my heart beat faster.
“You should never put limits on your dreams,” she adds. “You can do anything that you want to do.”