Sandeep L. Mathrani ’83 MMS ’83 M.Eng. ’86 Hon. D.Eng. ’11: Real-World Success
Successful real estate management executive Sandeep L. Mathrani ’83 MMS ’83 M.Eng. ’86 Hon. D.Eng. ’11 is not one to take no for an answer.
In fact, you might say that the word “no” has long inspired him to greater achievements.
Growing up in India, Mathrani was expected to attend college in England, as most of his family had done. But he wished to study in America. His father’s refusal to support this dream spurred Mathrani to secure a Rotary Exchange scholarship, and soon he was attending the 11th grade at a Philadelphia-area high school.
“It was quite an awakening,” he recalls with a chuckle. “I had always gone to private school and now I had to do my own laundry!”
Academically, Mathrani was already excelling and quickly advanced to the 12th grade. When it came time to select a university, his father again asked him to consider studying somewhere other than in the United States. But Mathrani stood firm once again, applying to and gaining acceptance to several universities and ultimately choosing Stevens.
A Rotary scholarship covered tuition, but to pay for room and board, he worked in the Stevens cafeteria washing dishes, unloading trucks and cashiering. By his sophomore year, Mathrani was also working as a math tutor.
After earning a bachelor’s in civil engineering and master’s in management, he returned to India intending to work for his father’s construction company. But within the year, Mathrani was back in the U.S., planning a second master’s at Stevens. It was already July; classes were soon to begin, and he needed a scholarship and a teaching assistantship in order to support his studies.
“I called Stevens, expecting that they would tell me no,” he remembers, but the university instead agreed to accommodate his requests. “Stevens made it possible!”
He would later rise to top roles in real estate management, including now as the new CEO of WeWork. He previously served as the CEO of Brookfield Properties’ retail group and vice chair of Brookfield Properties, CEO of GGP Inc., president of retail for Vornado Realty Trust, and executive vice president at Forest City Ratner.
All the while, Mathrani never forgot his alma mater, later showing his appreciation by becoming a member of the Stevens Board of Trustees and agreeing to serve as the university’s 2011 Commencement speaker.
He also generously contributed support to the university's Walk-In Tutoring Center in the S.C. Williams Library, recognizing from personal experience both how valuable student employment can be and how important academic support is for undergraduates. Student support no doubt plays a role in sustaining the university’s remarkable first-year freshmen retention rate, currently at 94%.
Mathrani has now scaled the heights of business success and received four Stevens degrees, including an honorary doctorate. Yet he still takes his extraordinary achievements very much in stride and remains grateful to the university where it all began.
“Stevens taught me that I could succeed, no matter what,” he says.