Job title: General Manager, Dream Development
Why he’s a 2019 Top 40 Under 40: He develops communities that improve quality of life.
Just before his seventh birthday in 1986, Giang Nguyen’s mother smuggled him and the rest of their family out of Vietnam on a fishing boat and into Malaysia, where they lived as refugees for three years. It was in their refugee camp where Nguyen learned the value of clean, drinkable water. “Each family received one jug a day,” he recalls over the phone from Vietnam, where he’s visiting family that stayed behind. “We quickly learned how scarce of a resource fresh water can be.”
Years later, Nguyen hasn’t forgot that lesson. In his spare time, he volunteers with CreekWatch, a community-based environmental monitoring program that collects water-quality data for urban creeks across the province weekly between May and October. The data helps determine the overall health of Alberta’s creeks and measures the impact that storm water from development has on water quality.
The data from CreekWatch also helps inform his work as general manager at Dream Development, a real estate investment, development and management company that has been developing mixed-use communities in the Edmonton area for over 40 years. “I believe that progress and development can be done with conservation in mind,” he says. “We use this data to support better construction management, minimize environmental impact and work towards sustainable development.”
But that’s not the only way Nguyen gives back to a community where drinkable water is the norm. He and his wife sponsor children, usually girls, in developing countries like Ethiopia and Togo. And, at Dream Development, he works to add tangible value to communities, like commissioning the construction of the first wheelchair-accessible playground in south Edmonton neighbourhood, Terrace Park.
“Development shouldn’t just be about gross margins and bottom lines,” Nguyen says. “Edmonton has allowed me to be better and so much more than I ever imagined in my early life that I can’t help but be its champion.”