NL Prominent Speaker Series: Ismail Gafoor

The National Library regularly host renowned speakers from the arts, heritage, technology and social sciences sectors to share with the wider community and to exchange ideas. Organised by the National Library, this event was held on 21 April 2017. This guide accompanied the talk given by Ismail Gafoor on the topic “From Humble Beginnings to CEO of Singapore’s Largest Homegrown Real Estate Agency”.


The speaker for the topic is Ismail Gafoor, CEO of P&N Holdings and PropNex Realty.

Ismail Gafoor is the CEO of P&N Holdings Pte Ltd, the parent company of PropNex Realty Pte Ltd. He is also an investor, entrepreneur and a recipient of numerous distinguished awards including the 2015 Entrepreneur of the Year (Spirit of Enterprise, Nexia-TS).

Mr Ismail is known to be an advocate for training and lifelong learning. He has institutionalised a vigorous training programme in his company in the form of developmental seminars, workshops, consultancy services and public conventions for his real estate salespersons.

He is the author of two motivational books, the first of which is You Can Fly. Published in 2005 with a foreword written by the late former Singapore President SR Nathan, it urges its readers to excel by doing ordinary things such as by being persistent and consistent.

Besides writing books, Mr Ismail motivates others by sharing the lessons he has learned in life at property seminars or interviews conducted by local and international media such as Channel NewsAsia, The Straits Times and The Business Times.


These resources are drawn from the collections of the National Library.


Books by Ismail Gafoor


  • Mohamed Ismail A. G. (2005). You can fly: Think, do, and act for greater personal success. Singapore: Mohamed Ismail A.G.
    Call number: RSING 158.1 MOH
    This bestseller is Mr Ismail’s first motivational book. Using a mix of analogies and personal anecdotes, Mr Ismail shares his views and concepts on how to be a successful person or entrepreneur.


  • Mohamed Ismail A. G. (2011). The timeless gift: Your ultimate guide to a meaningful life. Singapore: Mohamed Ismail A.G.
    Call number: RSING 158.1 MOH
    In his second motivational book, Mr Ismail helps us discover that life unveils itself in phases and that the decisions we make at each of its different stages can determine the outcome of our short existence. Therefore, we must live life wisely so that it will be a journey of fun and fulfilment.


  • Mohamed Ismail A. G. (2013). The ultimate guide to real estate investment in Singapore. Singapore: Mohamed Ismail A.G.
    Call number: RSING 332.6324095957 MOH
    Real estate investments are big-ticket items that can either lead to riches or a downward spiral to financial disaster. Before you capitalise on the vibrant real estate scene, check out Mr Ismail’s step-by-step guide that even beginners will find easy to read and understand.



Books on PropNex


  • Koh, W. (2012). Propnex: From novice to market leader. Singapore: Cengage Learning Asia.
    Call number: RSING 333.33068 KOH
    This book tells the story of PropNex and examines how Mr Ismail managed to persuade the owners of several other small real estate agencies to merge in 2000 to form PropNex Realty Pte Ltd. It also provides insights into his leadership, motivation and drive, as well as his courage and vision in building and managing Singapore’s leading real estate company.


  • PropNex Realty Pte Ltd. (2012). The real estate ambassadors. Singapore: PropNex Realty Pte Ltd.
    Call number: RSING 333.33095957 REA
    Published by PropNex Realty Pte Ltd to feature the recipients of the company’s Ambassador Award, this book encapsulates the professionalism of PropNex’s salespersons. By highlighting their success stories and accomplishments, it also serves to motivate others to excel in their profession and lives.


  • Phua, W. Y. (2010). Shaping Singapore’s real estate landscape: In celebration of our 10th anniversary. Singapore: PropNex Realty Pte Ltd.
    Call number: RSING 333.33068 PHU
    Released to mark the 10th anniversary of PropNex Realty Pte Ltd, this book lays out the achievements of the company. It also shows how the company maintains to its core values amid volatile challenges in the real estate industry, treasures its salespersons, and gives back to society through charity.



Newspaper Articles


  • Tan, C. (2005, November 23). Military manoeuvres at PropNex.
    The Business Times, p. 36. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
    This Business Times article provides a rare insight into how Mr Ismail manages PropNex Pte Ltd. The company is run with military precision and army parallels can be found in its organisational structure, staff discipline and training sessions. There is even a roll of honour for top performing salespersons.


  • My Weekend. (2012, June 15).
    The Straits Times, p. 9. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
    There is always time for family. This is Mr Ismail’s refrain as he shares how he spends his weekends in this Straits Times article. Despite being the CEO of one of the largest real estate companies, Mr Ismail ensures that he spends most of his weekends with his family be it having dinner in Serangoon or watching Bollywood movies on television.


  • Noor Ashikin Abdul Rahman. (2011, April 24). More customers = More for charity.
    New Paper, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
    Besides being an entrepreneur and an award-winning CEO, Mr Ismail is also a great cook. His speciality – dum biryani. Mr Ismail’s dum biryani is so good that he was able to sell 100 servings at the 2011 Great CEO Charity Cookout.


  • Tay, C. (2011, November 24). Realising his vision.
    The Straits Times, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
    Mr Ismail had a very stable career as a pensionable officer in the Singapore Armed Forces before he co-founded PropNex. However, Mr Ismail gave it up to venture into entrepreneurship. Recalling the switch in this Straits Times interview, Mr Ismail attributed the initial move as a leap of faith. However, building PropNex into a successful real estate company involves other values including perseverance and discipline.


  • What you need to know for property investment. (2014, June 8).
    The Straits Times, p. C1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
    Real estate is undoubtedly an integral part of Mr Ismail’s life. He and his colleagues regularly hold public seminars to share tips, market sentiments, risks and investment opportunities for those interested in investing in the lucrative but unpredictable sector. This Straits Times article provides a preview of these discussions in these seminars.


All rights reserved. National Library Board, 2017.

Written by Mervin Teo