Yog Melwani is a firm believer in community and involvement therein. It’s not surprising, really, since his own community – at this point – has encompassed so many parts of the world.
Born in Lagos, Nigeria, where his father worked as an accountant for a textile manufacturer, he returned to his family’s native India at age 11 to attend the renowned Kodiakanal International School. Founded in South India by American missionaries in 1901, in 1976 it became the first in the nation to adopt the International Baccalaureate Program. He graduated in 1990.
“My father was double-degreed and was very big on education,” Melwani told GrowthSpotter. “He wanted me to have some roots in India, to learn the culture and traditions, to get to know the history, all the good stuff – from within.”
After Kodaikanal, it was onto America – more specifically, New York – and Long Island’s Hofstra University (known by many as a regular stop during Presidential Debate season). An accounting degree ensued in the shadow of the Big Apple. It wasn’t so much a paternally influenced choice, but a pragmatic one for the business-minded Melwani.
“Anyone who knew me as a child would have said I was going to be in business,” he notes. “I always had an entrepreneurial spirit. I did have an aptitude for numbers and math, however – all the way through childhood to now, knock wood. Accounting is the basis of any business, because you have to know the numbers. If the numbers don’t support an idea, no matter what you try, it doesn’t work.”
His international background served him well during his time in New York, where he worked on Wall Street as a stock trader for about seven years.
“We had a lot of exposure to the American way of life in school,” Melwani explains, noting that save the comparably frigid New York winters, his transition was very smooth.
“Living in America, for people who come from other parts of the world, is always at the top of their list, it’s on a pedestal – and experiencing that was a big ‘wow’ factor for me.”
At age 12, he had his first exposure to Orlando in the form of a Disney vacation, and so when a family friend from Nigeria approached Melwani about some business opportunities, his winter-worn ears were piqued, but not enough to be too spontaneous.
“I took several trips, met a lot of people, did my research,” he explains, “I vetted the place and then decided to move – and I had my mind set on real estate.”
It took a couple of years, with Melwani managing client portfolios for awhile before making the transition in 2002.
Not only did his career take off, but the Orlando climate was well suited for all the active pursuits he’d enjoyed since childhood. “Cricket, basketball, softball – we didn’t have baseball! – and today I play racquetball, also.”
He has a regular Sunday pick-up game with friends – and even have joined a cricket league based on time availability.” Not that there’s much.
In 2018-19, Melwani served as President of the Indian-American Chamber of Commerce, “enhancing our community, raising its profile” and also serves as part of the BB&T Advisory Board and the City of Orlando Nominating Board – all this in addition to his new position chairing the Orange County Planning & Zoning Commission.
“All of it adds to my civic engagement,” he says. “I enjoy it, and will continue to provide my service and give back to the community.”