Gary Pooni

President, Brook + Associates Inc. Age: 38

Gary Pooni is probably the only person who can say he became interested in a real estate career after land-zoning issues piqued his curiosity as a teen.

“When I was a teenager, our land became designated for multi-family use in the official community plan, and that kind of got me interested in the initial process,” said Pooni.

It’s safe to say he was more than interested.

Pooni is president of Brook + Associates Inc., a well-known real estate development-consulting firm, and he’s the chair of several committees at the Urban Development Institute.

During his career, Pooni has helped co-ordinate more than 65 major real estate developments in 23 different municipalities.

But he wasn’t always a real estate juggernaut.

Pooni is the son of immigrant parents from India, and while growing up, his dad took a job at the Fraser Mills sawmill in Coquitlam to support his family and create a better life for his children.

When he was old enough, Pooni attended Simon Fraser University for a BA in geography before moving to Calgary to obtain a graduate degree and pursue his real estate dreams.

“I love the creative side of it,” said Pooni of his work. “But mostly what I enjoy is bringing in positive change to communities.”

Aside from his work in B.C., Pooni spends his spare time fundraising for the Indo-Canadian Friendship Society to establish sustainable infrastructure in rural parts of India.

Most recently, Pooni’s professional life and family roots came together in an ironic symbolism – the redevelopment of Fraser Mills.

“Here it is 35 years later [and I’m] working on the future of Fraser Mills when it was a part of my family’s roots when they first came from India.” •