• Alex Mehran

Alex Mehran Elected as a New Caltech Trustee

The real estate developer says he's inspired by Caltech's "intensity of intellect"

Alexander R. Mehran, chairman and chief executive officer of Sunset Development Company, has been elected to Caltech's Board of Trustees.

A California native who has lived in San Francisco since 1977, Mehran earned a law degree from Cambridge University after completing his undergraduate education at Harvard. Trained as an international lawyer, Mehran made his most significant professional impact in real estate, contributing to the economic development of the East Bay region.

Mehran spent three years managing real estate companies and assets at J.P. Morgan before joining Sunset Development Company, a private, diversified real estate organization his father founded in 1951. Over the next four decades, under Mehran's leadership, the company expanded beyond residential development, undertaking major commercial projects such as San Ramon's Bishop Ranch, a business park that houses 600 businesses that employ 30,000 workers. Earlier this year, shared autonomous vehicles began operating at Bishop Ranch as part of a state pilot program.

Mehran is one of three individuals to have joined the Board of Trustees, Caltech's governing body, in recent months. The Board is led by David L. Lee (PhD '74), chair, and Ronald K. Linde (MS '62, PhD '64), vice chair. It is currently composed of 45 trustees, 26 senior trustees, 19 life members, and one honorary life member.

Mehran recently shared some of the lessons that have shaped his long career in real estate.

What have you learned during your career that you think others should know?
The greatest lessons that I have learned during my business career are that quality matters, integrity is essential, and relationships are critical. My most notable achievement has been to transform our business into a multigenerational platform. The proudest moment in my career was introducing my son to our company in 2010, when we had three generations working in our office. The most fun that I have had in my career is building buildings and seeing the public enjoy the spaces that we have created.

Tell us about a university professor who was particularly influential in your life.
I have had a number of influential teachers in my life, but one in particular comes to mind: Professor Paul Freund, who was my senior thesis adviser at Harvard. We became friends, and he advised me to pursue a career in public international law at Cambridge University in England, which I did. It was a life-changing experience.

What's the best advice you have ever received?
The greatest advice that I have received is, "Live without fear, and know what you want." Life without risk is not fun and doesn't present challenges. If something doesn't have risk, it has probably been done before, which doesn't interest me.

What do you find most inspiring about Caltech?
I became interested in Caltech many years ago when my former father-in-law, Tom Watson, received an honorary degree, and I was present to experience the intensity of intellect that represents the Institute. The most inspiring aspect of Caltech is the intellectual rigor and depth of thought that occurs here. I wish people knew the practical applications of the research that comes out of Caltech.

Written by Jennifer Torres Siders