Dr Shamsh Kassim-Lakha is Chairman of the Board of the University of Central Asia (UCA). From June 2014 to September 2018, he was responsible for leading the planning, building, and operation of the campuses and programmes of the University across all three of its Founding States.
Dr Kassim-Lakha has a long association with UCA. He served as co-chair of the Commission on the Establishment of an International Institution of Higher Education, a distinguished panel of international and regional members who in 1988 developed the concept for the University. In 2000, he was involved in the negotiations of the International Treaty that led to UCA's establishment by the governments of Tajikistan, the Kyrgyz Republic and Kazakhstan, and His Highness the Aga Khan. In 2014, Dr Kassim-Lakha was appointed Diplomatic Representative of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) to the Kyrgyz Republic.
As Founding President of the Aga Khan University, the first private university chartered in South Asia, for nearly three decades, Dr Kassim-Lakha led the planning, building, and operations of this internationally renowned institution established by His Highness the Aga Khan in 1983 with campuses in Pakistan, Eastern Africa, and the United Kingdom.
He has served in senior positions in the Pakistan government, including as the country's Minister of Education and as Minister of Science and Technology in the caretaker government in 2007-2008. As Minister of State in 2001-2002, he led the task force which recommended higher education reforms in Pakistan, resulting in major structural changes in universities and the creation of the Higher Education Commission, of which he was a member from 2007 to 2011. In September 2018, he was appointed to the Board of Governors of HEC. He also chaired the committee which wrote Pakistan's National Environment Protection Act (1997). The first two decades of his career were with the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development, where he served as Managing Director of Industrial Promotion Services of Pakistan, a manufacturing and venture capital company with a workforce of 22,000.
His service extends to other areas. He is a Senior Distinguished Fellow with the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto. Recently, he retired as Founding Chair of the Pakistan Centre for Philanthropy Board, where he served for fifteen years, and from the International Board of the International Baccalaureate Organisation. He has written and published articles on school and higher education, philanthropy, civil society, and management in renowned journals, including The Lancet and Nature and has contributed book chapters on these themes. He is also a member of the Steering Committee of the Aga Khan Music Awards.
Dr Kassim-Lakha received his undergraduate education from the South Bank and Westminster Universities, in London and completed his graduate studies at the University of Minnesota, USA.
In recognition of his academic and social work, Dr Kassim-Lakha has received honorary degrees from McMaster University, Canada, and the Aga Khan University. His awards for distinguished service include 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.