Dicko Ba is a multi-family development professional with the goal of creating the best-designed projects possible. She is passionate about making development functional and livable for residents and the public realm. “I believe buildings are here to help us live our best lives today and to ensure that our children and their children live their best lives” she said.
As a Project Manager with John Stewart Company Ba is realizing her dream every day as she leads new construction projects and building rehabilitations throughout Northern California. Presently, she is working on large number of multifamily projects across Northern California, spanning from Sacramento to San Francisco and reaching as far South as San Jose.
While her current focus is on affordable and mixed-income multifamily housing, she also has considerable expertise in market rate product. Prior to moving to the US, Ba, a native of Dakar, Senegal was a principal and owner of a luxury condominium development company for over a decade. That experience made her an expert in the West African market. She also lived in Paris and has insight into the French market as well.
Ba indicates her first project is the one she will always find most exciting. The development, a four-story ocean front luxury condo building had 90% of the units sold when Senegal entered a recession. It was six months before construction started and all the buyers left the project. She had a construction loan to repay and needed to sell the condos again, as fast as possible.
She decided to delay construction for another six months and use that time to convince architects and engineers to privatize and divide the open spaces as well as the rooftop making the condos more attractive to buyers with more outdoor space. They also changed the floors plans to maintain the number of units while reducing the height of the project. Ultimately, the deal was a huge success. “I learned a tremendous amount about being an entrepreneur and a developer,” she said. “It was an exhilarating experience!”
Another project that Ba found exiting was 921 Howard in SOMA, an 18-story affordable housing apartment building. Being new to the US she found the financial structure of new developments was completely different. However, she met the challenge head on and quickly learned how to navigate the process. “I found it fascinating,” she said, “I had to learn in such short time who the different players were and how to approach each lender.”
In terms of NAIOP, Ba currently serves on of the Sponsorship and Marketing & Communications Committees. She joined as a student in 2019 when she arrived in the US to attend UC Berkeley. Additionally, Ba is part of the NAIOP Executive Development Program (NED) class of 2022. “I’m so excited about the program, it’s like a 6-month mini-MBA bootcamp” she said. “I love that it’s a cohort with my peers. We focus on our growth as a person and as a leader while gaining management tools and making lifelong friends and connections.”
As for advice for emerging professionals, Ba recommends they be open minded and ready to seize opportunities even though they may not be exactly what they have been dreaming about. “You may be surprised to find out that your dream may have actually been something completely different or that opportunity was actually bringing you the tools you needed to be great when you dream presents itself” she said. “My journey has been full of many rich experiences that have exceed my expectations!”
On the personal front, Ba left Senegal to pursue her education in London where she earned a BA in Business Administration and an MBA in International Banking and Finance from London Metropolitan University. She began her career in London and went back to Senegal in 2009. After working in real estate development for more than a decade, she decided to go back to school and moved to the US in 2019. She graduated with a Master of Real Estate Development + Design in 2020. Today, she lives in San Francisco where she enjoys the diversity of city life. “I have always been curious about different cultures and getting to know them.” she said. “I am always trying to learn a new language, meet people from different places and truly understand their values and customs.”