SURREY – In the 35 years since graduating from Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Balraj Mann has successfully assembled a construction management empire as he acquired companies and expanded to other countries. Now he is set to acquire another accolade at KPU’s fall convocation – the Distinguished Alumni Award.
“I am humbled to receive this award. Getting the award means a lot to me and it also gives me validation about what I have done – even though I don’t think I have done much,” says Mann.
Mann arrived from India in 1980 as 15-year-old who “didn’t know much.” Living in New Westminster, he started at Douglas College, taking a two-year construction management diploma, but found permanent work difficult to come by during a recession.
By 1982, Mann and his family had moved to Surrey, where he learned of KPU and a civil and structural engineering program collaboration it had with the then Ryerson Polytechnic in Toronto. Mann started his diploma at KPU in civil and structural engineering in 1984.
“It was a repeat of my previous program of construction management from Douglas, but with KPU there was a small class size – only eight of us.”
Mann relished the small class sizes because it gave him the opportunity to form deeper personal connections with his professors and peers.
“You got to know your fellow students, not only from the civil and structural engineering program but from other programs too. The professors and the dean, were all in the same building. You get to know people personally and that was the biggest thing,” adds Mann.
“I remember my first co-op term was in the City of Surrey engineering department and that gave me exposure to how city hall works and working with professionals. Later on, when I started my own development and construction business, having that knowledge base was so helpful.”
Mann graduated from KPU in 1986 and moved to Toronto to find work.