The WISE Awards


Mr. Shamsh Kassim-Lakha

Position: Chairman of the Board of Trustees, University of Central Asia
Country: Pakistan
Shamsh Kassim-Lakha is the Founding President of the Aga Khan University, the first private university chartered in Pakistan. He led the planning, building and operation of this institution for 27 years in seven countries of Asia, Africa, and in the United Kingdom. 

Shamsh served as Pakistan’s Minister of Education as well as Science and Technology in the Caretaker Government in 2007-8.  He chairs the board of Pakistan Centre for Philanthropy and sits on the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan (HEC) as well as the board of the International Baccalaureate Organization. Shamsh chaired the Committee that wrote Pakistan’s National Environment Protection Act (1997) and headed the Committee that recommended reforms in higher education in 2001-2, leading to the creation of HEC. He is a Senior Distinguished Fellow at the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto, and consults for the World Bank and Grameen Bank.  

The first two decades of his career were in the jute industry of East Pakistan and in venture capital as Managing Director of Industrial Promotion Services of Pakistan, sponsored by the Aga Khan Development Network.  Leading a work force of 22,000 he built up one of the largest export houses of Pakistan. 

Shamsh received his undergraduate education in the UK and an MBA from the University of Minnesota. In recognition of his services he has received an honorary degree from McMaster University, Canada, as well as Sitara-e-Imtiaz and Hilal-e-Imtiaz from the President of Pakistan and Officer of the National Order of Merit from the President of France.