HONORING MATHRANI: Sandeep Mathrani, who 35 years ago emigrated by himself from India to Philadelphia at age 16 and has since lived the American dream, was honored by the American Jewish Committee’s Human Relations Award at a dinner last Monday drawing 1,100 real estate executives and retailers and raising more than $3.6 million for the organization.

“This must be like a bar mitzvah,” Mathrani, the chief executive officer of General Growth Properties, told the crowd before recounting how he got into real estate by buying a Nissan Sentra and selling it to get an apartment that he sold a year later at a profit, and how he was lucky to be mentored by two real estate giants, Bruce Ratner of Forest City Ratner, and Steven Ross of Vornado Realty Trust. “Ten percent of life is what you want to do,” Mathrani said. “Ninety percent is what you have to do. Surround yourself with people who have your best interests at heart.”

This story first appeared in the October 30, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

“He has an extraordinary ability to make deals,” said Ratner, who credited Mathrani with building Forest City’s retail business. “He’s smart, intense and a whiz with numbers. He has an openness to new ideas and believes the ups and downs of life are all teaching moments. I’ve seen him grow from a young man with dreams and ambitions to a thoughtful leader who motivates people.”

Roth described Mathrani’s career in three phases: development activities while at Forest City, acquisition to grow Vornado’s portfolio, and currently “curating” the portfolio at General Growth. But Roth added, “The secret sauce has always been lease, lease, lease.…He’s a business warrior wrapped in a very calm, peaceful veneer. He loves complexity but is always in control.”

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