Sean Paulsen was a fresh-faced young man of 20 when he first joined Associated Property Management in Kelowna.

But rather than backlash from clients who thought he was too young to be handling their business, he attained instant credibility.

"I started in this business the right way," said Paulsen, who is now 32 with a dozen years as a property manager under his belt.

"For the first year, I was put on salary and was partnered with the owner at the time, Ron Basuzki. Ron was my mentor. He taught me the business and gave me the credibility to work with clients on his behalf."

After a year, at the still-young age of 21, we began working on his own portfolio of business.

"I built the portfolio up from nothing," said Paulsen.

"I think that's part of the reason I was nominated for Top Forty Under 40. I have a great work ethic and thrive being an independent contractor within a well-known and well-respected firm such as Associated Property Management."

Carmen Sparg, who works in strategic planning for both Total Interiors and Associated Property Management, nominated Paulsen for Top 40.

"Through his commitment to service excellence, Sean has become Associated Property Management's most successful residential property manager," said Sparg, who is also executive vice-president of the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce.

"Sean has achieved his phenomenal growth predominantly by word-of-mouth referrals, need we say more. This is the ultimate testament to his ethics, professionalism and commitment to building long-term relationships."

Paulsen now has 100 clients who own 120 residential properties.

For most of those clients, Paulsen offers full management of their homes from advertising the homes for rent, doing credit checks and vetting to find good tenants, collecting rents, dealing with any problems and outsourcing maintenance.

"My clients are from all over the world and they have invested in Kelowna real estate," said Paulsen.

"Many of them own a house or condominium in Kelowna that they want to rent out until they eventually retire and move to Kelowna and live in the home themselves."

With such expertise, Paulsen was recently promoted to head of the residential division.

While he was doing it before, part of the promotion is to support other independent contractors in the residential division to be the best they can be.

As such, he's gone from mentee to mentor.

"I don't tell others what to do or how to do it," said Paulsen.

"I simply help them work through questions or problems and give good counsel. That's what being a good mentor is all about."

Part of Paulsen's success in the field may be because he grew up surrounded by the business.

His mom, Belinda Paulsen, is an eminent commercial property manager with Caromar Sales in North Vancouver.

The younger Paulsen is a graduate of the property management program at the B.C. Institute of Technology.

He's also studying to acquire his brokerage license.

While Paulsen is busy at work, he makes time to play hockey, soccer and golf and spend lots of time with his family – wife Sunny and their two-year-old son, Forrest.

The couple is also expecting their second child.

Sunny works part-time as a nurse at Kelowna General Hospital and also helps Paulsen with work at Associated Property Management.

Paulsen helps as a volunteer and fundraiser with Fill the Van for Sally Ann, Royal LePage's annual fundraiser for the Kelowna Women's Shelter and ongoing contributions to the Central Okanagan Community Food Bank.