The award-winning financial professional earns one of the highest notices in the land for a lifetime of achievements that include the development of satellite cities, transport infrastructure, and a new airport for Cambodians
Charles Vann, the executive vice-president of Canadia Group and director of Cambodia Airport Investment Co. Ltd., is this year’s Cambodia Real Estate Personality of the Year.
Editors of PropertyGuru Property Report, the official magazine of the 2022 PropertyGuru Cambodia Property Awards, were in awe of Vann’s illustrious achievements over the last 30 years. A luminary in the field of finance, Vann has been a transformative force in Cambodia’s property, infrastructure and banking sectors.
Vann is known for successfully leading and professionalising various teams throughout Canadia Group, a massive conglomerate that includes one of the kingdom’s most prolific developers, Overseas Cambodia Investment Corporation (OCIC). He has also led Canadia Bank, a Canadia Group company, through periods of rapid growth, solidifying the commercial bank as one of Cambodia’s largest, most stable financial institutions.
“It is an incredible moment, not just for me, but for the entire team of Canadia Group and Overseas Cambodia Investment Corporation to be recognised by PropertyGuru as the 2022 Cambodia Real Estate Personality of the Year,” he says. “Being recognised with a PropertyGuru Asia Property Award is the ultimate honour in regional real estate with both national and regional recognition. Thank you for honouring, recognising and celebrating the highest levels of achievement of the real estate industry in all facets.”
An alumnus of Monash University and Swinburne University in Melbourne, Vann first honed his expertise in finance at the Australia-New Zealand (ANZ) Banking Group. Taking his world-class learnings with him to Cambodia, Vann joined Canadia Bank where he quickly rose up the ranks as vice-president, executive member of the board of directors, and head of corporate affairs.
Today, Vann is regarded as one of the country’s foremost bankers with a knack for attracting, negotiating, and sealing impactful financial deals. As acting chairman of the Association of Banks in Cambodia (ABC), he helped carry out the Sustainable Finance Initiative that created environmentally credible lending platforms nationwide. He also chaired the ASEAN Bankers Association, guiding Southeast Asia’s financial industry through the ASEAN Economic Community integration.
Many pioneering projects by OCIC are built and financed on his watch. Under his leadership, OCIC has built a reputation for commercial and residential environments that allow Cambodians and investors to live out sustainable, cosmopolitan lifestyles.
“Canadia Group and Overseas Cambodian Investment Corporation have essentially created a powerful ripple effect in the lives of many Cambodian workers and families, cities and municipalities, industries, the economy, and the kingdom as a whole over the last 20 years,” he says.
In 2004, OCIC went to Koh Pich Island, an underserved area of Phnom Penh on the Mekong and Bassac rivers, and embarked on one of its most gainful, game-changing developments to date: Koh Pich Satellite City.
“Prior to the development of Koh Pich Satellite City, nearly a thousand families lived in slum-like conditions in makeshift houses without adequate infrastructure in the western part of Koh Pich Island,” says Vann. “The area was unsafe, and few people knew about or visited this island.”
Now endeared to many as the “Diamond of Phnom Penh,” Koh Pich Satellite City has ignited development of similar scale across the Cambodian capital. The likes of Chroy Changvar Satellite City, The Olympia Satellite City, and The Norea Satellite City have sprung up in the wake of the riverside project.
Vann has since become a partner in nation-building. As co-chairman of the Private Sector Working Group (PSWG), Vann serves as a crucial bridge between private companies and the government in their shared commitment to furthering Cambodia’s economic development.
He has helped literal bridges and other much-needed infrastructure projects come into fruition: the Monivong Flyover, New Monivong Bridge, Stung Meanchey Flyover, 5 January Flyover, and 7 January Flyover, among others. In a historic feat for Canadia Group, he helped OCIC win the construction and operation rights of the Phnom Penh New International Airport development. The project, also known as Techo International Airport, is expected to modernise the country’s travel, aviation and logistics industries.
From this point forward, Vann is binding OCIC to its promise of creating more financial opportunities for the Cambodian people, especially those affected by the pandemic.
“This contribution can never be measured in terms of the length and number of real estates, roads and railways built, but in the number of lives that were given a decent chance to improve their lot,” says Vann. “Above all, these are the committed investments of OCIC which would undoubtedly translate to more employment, more export receipts, more revenues, and more taxes to the kingdom of Cambodia that in turn would substantially contribute to propel the national economy forward.”
Leaders in Cambodia have certainly taken notice of Vann and his achievements. In 2008, Vann won the prestigious Thibdin Award. The following year, he received the Mohasereywat Award from King Norodom Sihamoni himself.
Now the Real Estate Personality of the Year trophy has been added to his growing, well-deserved collection of honours.
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