Fellow Harvard Alumni are contributing in amazing ways to the development of Pakistan. This Saturday , the 16th, HCP Karachi ( the outgoing executive committee) is delighted to host a talk by Malik Ahmad Jalal of Aman Foundation / Abraaj capital.

Scalability. Upstream interventions. Stakeholder engagement. These catchphrases are among the many that policymakers and others use to describe their work. People who do not typically focus on public policy matters—think investment bankers, for instance — have their own lexicon. Wealth generation is one example.

When he worked in finance, Malik Ahmad Jalal MPA/ID 2011 was intimately familiar with the language of financial investments. A former banker—he received his bachelor’s from the London School of Economics and was employed by Deloitte, Goldman Sachs and then Abraaj Group for more than a decade—Jalal worked on investments that aimed to create growth and value for the companies involved. Then, he bandied about terms such as value creation plans and growth capital. It was while he was executing an investment in a power project in China that he understood how different the language of government was. “I had to discuss the investment with government officials, and I realized how crucial it was to be able to engage with governments and to understand the language of policy and development,” he says.

Jalal had been thinking about pursuing graduate studies, and at one point contemplated business school. He says, though, that he “wanted to be in a place where I could learn from people from different and varied backgrounds, and not just those from similar business backgrounds as myself.” An epiphany of sorts occurred in 2008, when he was on the trading floor in London and the markets imploded. The stunned silence on the floor drove home for him how the banking world was one small piece of the puzzle and that other fields had the potential to have a great impact on the world. He applied to Harvard Kennedy School’s (HKS’s) master’s program in international development, and by the fall of 2009, he was in Cambridge starting classes.

“I learned so much, not just about the theory but the practice of development. And the Kennedy School is really diverse, not just with its many programs and classes, but with my classmates who had effected positive change in their communities. Everyone had very distinct experiences, and befriending many different people gave me a lot to think about.”

He says that language can put people in boxes and that the Kennedy School not only helped to pry open the constricting container of business jargon; it also gave him insights into how to make the world a better place. Says Jalal, “Business and public policy professionals often work toward similar goals, but the different languages create barriers to communication and joint action. Take wealth generation. Some may think this is a bad phrase, but the public and nonprofit sectors agree that more wealth leads to more tax revenues and thus higher spending on education and health.”

Now, he is working as the chief executive officer at the Aman Foundation in his native Pakistan. As one the nation’s largest philanthropic organizations, Aman aims to improve the health and education of marginalized people, mainly in Karachi (population 20 million) but soon, Jalal envisages, in the rest of the country and beyond.

All HCP members are invited.
Day & Time:
Saturday, July 16 at 4:30pm - 6:30pm
Venue: Diplomat 111, Karachi Marriott
Followed by high tea.