Meet Jerzy Smolarek, 36, co-founder and partner at Siv-ik Planning and Design Inc., and one of our 20 Under 40 Class of 2023 recipients
PRIOR TO CO-FOUNDING Siv-ik Planning & Design in 2021, Jerzy Smolarek’s career spanned over 11 years as a municipal urban designer with the City of London. During this time his vision and design influence has shape major development projects across the city, including the Dundas Flex Street. Moving to the private sector, he is now putting his vision, creative skills and accumulated knowledge to work to help developers better plan and execute development projects through robust and innovative solutions and strategies.
What would you say is your single biggest business achievement, and why?
Building a successful urban planning consulting business from the ground-up by taking the time to step back and evaluate the industry, forget about how things have been typically done and diligently come up with new ways of doing things in an industry that has remained fairly stagnant over the last couple of decades.
Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give your younger self?
Life is not always linear, nor should it be. Taking risks can bring big rewards, I always found myself being risk-averse growing up, especially in my career. After college, I settled into a government job with a good salary, benefits and a pension for over 10 years. In 2021, I walked away from all of that to start Siv-ik — and wish I had done it sooner.
What about your biggest business obstacle — and how did you tackle it?
Having only worked in the public sector, taking the leap to try to build a successful consulting business.
What are some of your favourite pastimes, outside of your job?
Going to the gym or enjoying anything outdoors, including biking the entire Thames Valley Parkway network on a Saturday morning, or basking in the sun at a local beach.
What’s left for you to do — professionally or personally?
There’s still lots to come. Professionally we’re hoping to continue to steadily grow Siv-ik into the go-to planning firm in Southwestern Ontario. Personally, I just got engaged earlier this year to the most amazing woman and I am looking forward to planning our dream wedding in Italy!
And finally, what’s your guilty pleasure?