Men of Vancouver (MofV) is a new bi-weekly editorial featuring the most stylish and professional men in Vancouver. Style by Sarai recently interviewed Amit Sandhu for this exclusive in-depth photo editorial.
What do you do for work?
I work for the Ampri Group, a portfolio of companies founded by my parents. My main focus is Am-Pri Construction Ltd. We’ve built and sold just over 600 homes in Richmond since 1999. We do everything from land assembly, rezoning, and development, through to managing the construction process, marketing, and sales. It’s very rewarding work; I get to see my projects develop from a vision to blueprints and ultimately into buildings that add to a neighbourhood. A home is an intimate setting for families. It’s awesome to be able to build a product for people that are starting their lives together, raising their children, or perhaps settling into Canada as new immigrants.
What does a typical workweek look like for you?
I’m fortunate to wear many hats throughout a work week. In a typical day I’m overseeing current construction projects, planning future developments, and exploring investment opportunities. Of course, I’m always on call so I can make sure everyone in our eco-system has what they need to get their work done. My portfolio of social initiatives and volunteer positions keep me busy as well. Throw in a networking event or lunch with a new contact and that wraps up a good week for me.
Speaking of social initiatives, how did TYE come about?
My friend Vik Khanna, who is the President of TiE Vancouver, reached out to me in August 2011. We met over lunch to talk about a youth program that was developed at the TiE Boston Chapter and expanding to other parts of the world. I was immediately interested in the idea and could see the potential, the only issue was I felt I had way too much on my plate at the time. So Vik connected me with another young entrepreneur, Rattan Bagga, and as Co-Chairs we launched a really successful first year of The TiE Young Entrepreneurs (TYE) Vancouver. Our 2012 local winners traveled to Atlanta, GA to compete with 19 teams from across the globe. Team GenAid presented their business idea, the Regenecast, and won the TYE Global Business Plan Competition. It was an amazing experience to be part of that effort.
What made TYE such a success?
We’re fortunate to have huge support from the local business community. Our grade 11 and 12 students have access to some of the top executives and leading entrepreneurs in the city. In addition to that excellent mentorship, we’ve partnered with Fasken Martineau, KPMG, and SFU Beedie School of Business so the students can learn in some of the best venues Vancouver has to offer. TYE has been a success because everyone involved is passionate about empowering the next generation and instilling the entrepreneurial spirit.
So what’s next for TYE?
We’ve got a really bright group this year. The winners of our local Venture Challenge will travel to Washington DC next month to compete in the global finals. I’ve now seen first hand the impact of programs like this and I realize the need for them in our schools. Basic knowledge of entrepreneurship is essential for everyone leaving high schools, as this gives them the tools to excel in any career they choose. Keeping that in mind, my friends Rattan Bagga, Punit Dhillon, and I have formed a non-profit organization called Young Entrepreneurship & Leadership Launchpad (YELL). We’re taking what we’ve learned from the TYE experience and have developed a much more advanced platform for high schools across BC. YELL will create a mentor-based network for students while providing an advanced online education portal that will enable them to learn about business and the skills to have rewarding careers.
I see that giving back to your community is important to you, how did this all start for you?
Growing up I always had the positive influence of my parents, they really led by example. Even when they didn’t have much they were always helping others. This is what eventually led to us incorporating the “Dream Grow Inspire” philosophy at Ampri Group. I use this philosophy to guide my personal and professional life. Last week Ampri Group received Volunteer Richmond’s Shining Star Award for caring companies. This was definitely an unexpected bonus for us since we as volunteers or philanthropists actually gain the most from the “giving” experience. In community initiatives I’ve found purpose, passion, and the ability to connect with like-minded individuals.
How did you find out about Teaja and why do you like it so much?
My wife, Reena, and I have always loved small boutique coffee houses and tea shops. When we first moved into Yaletown we we’re delightfully surprised to find Teaja so close to home. Their teas are 100% organic and they make some amazing blends which are not only delicious but also carry health benefits. Steeping a loose leaf tea has become a morning ritual for me and Reena. It’s a time for us to step into our day with a bit of bliss, enjoying the aromas and quietness before work.
What teas do you recommend people to try?
I would recommend everyone try Vitality Tea from Teaja. This tea is a mate, oolong, black and fruit blend from Argentina, China, and India. There are a number of benefits including boosting metabolism and acting as a stimulant.
In your spare time, what do you like to do?
I’ve really learned to cherish the time I get to spend with those closest to me. Reena and I try to catch up with friends on the regular at one of our favourite dinner spots. We also have twin baby nieces; spending time with them and seeing them grow has been great. Then there’s time with our dog Mimi. When the weather is good I’ll take her for walks on the Seawall, she loves meeting all the other dogs and dog owners. I’ve been on a mission to get fit since last year so that has brought a lot of new interests into my life. I’ve got a group of friends that share daily food logs, it’s a great way for us to keep each other accountable as well as recommend meals and workouts. I try to fit in some quiet time before bed. At any given time I’ll have two or three books that I’m reading. I usually read business or self-help literature. The self-help books have really changed my life!
What book are you currently reading?
I was recently appointed to the Economic Advisory Committee for the City of Richmond. In keeping with that theme I picked up a book called The Triumph of the City. In this book, Edward Glaeser discusses how and why cities thrive and provide a multitude of benefits to people. He gives a historic overview of the first cities and how they became gateways between cultures and centres for intellectual and material exchange while fostered innovation and growth.
Where do you see the City of Vancouver in the next 5-10 years?
From a global perspective, Vancouver is definitely one of the best cities to live in the world. From an entrepreneurial perspective, I think Vancouver will continue to become an essential Canadian hub. The city will only grow to attract and nurture start-ups and innovation. The City of Vancouver is being proactive and moving in this direction with initiatives such as the Vancouver Technology Centre. It will be interesting to see how that develops and what additional benefits entrepreneurs will see as a result of that. The more we can do to support young people with ideas locally, the less of them we’ll lose to our neighbours to the South. Both the City of Vancouver and the business community are tuned into that, so I think we’re on the right track.
Outside of business books, what other books are you reading?
My wife gave me In Praise of Slow for my birthday; I guess it was her way to tell me to slow down! We can all benefit from reading that one. The world we live in promotes fast living so it’s important to step back and put things into perspective. I’ve really enjoyed that book as well.
Top 5 books you recommend people to read:
1. Curiosity of the School by Zander Sherman
2. The Alchemist by Paul Coelho
3. The Greatness Guide by Robin Sharma
4. The New Capital Manifesto by Umair Haque
5. Good to Great by Jim Collins
When you go out for dinner, where do you like to go?
I enjoy spending time at any of Glowbal Group‘s establishments in the City. Steak at Black & Blue or spaghetti and kobe meatballs at the original Glowball Grill. My absolute favourite is their Coast Restaurant. The atmosphere there, especially on weekends, is so alive, the place is buzzing with energy. I have had some of my best nights in Vancouver at Coast and I look forward to many more.
What’s your favourite meal there?
I’d recommend starting with one of their sushi rolls or jumbo prawns and definitely the smoked salmon flatbread, it’s awesome. Filet mignon with prawn mac and cheese for dinner, and if youâ€™ve still got room for dessert Iâ€™d recommend the honeycomb nibs!
What does style mean to you?
I think style is a reflection of our inner self. It’s a way to express ourselves and showcase our personality. I believe that having a good understanding of who you are personally and professionally will result in the style you choose to wear and are comfortable in. The best part of this for me is playing with colours, textures, and items that bring together both my personal and professional self.
Does your style change much from your business to social life?
Dressing well is definitely part of who I am, it’s an extension of my personality. From my work day to networking events and working with others on social initiatives, I like to present myself with consistency. This means consistency in the quality of work I do, the commitments I make and yes, also the way I dress. Depending on my agenda for the day, I might lean towards a more professional feel; however, I try to balance that with my my creative, passionate, and artful side. If my day includes more time on a construction site rather than office meetings, I’ll definitely be more laid back in my style. After work in social settings, I really like to have fun with my outfits.
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