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Spotlight: Firoz Ladak


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Firoz LadakFiroz Ladak
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Firoz Ladak (ISP 86-89) is the Executive Director of the Edmond & Benjamin de Rothschild Foundations, the philanthropic arm of the banking family known for its financial activities in Europe since the 17th century.

The core activity of the Foundations that Firoz manages is in Education, but they are also involved in the Arts and Culture, Health and Research, the Environment, and Social Entrepreneurship and Intercultural Dialogue. The scope is vast and includes offices in Geneva, Paris, New York, Jerusalem, Capetown and Bombay. One of their newest programmes is the Ariane de Rothschild Fellowship launched in 2009 in partnership with Columbia Business School and Cambridge University. This unique initiative invites young Muslim and Jewish social entrepreneurs to follow an intensive curriculum in New York, which includes business, humanities and dialogue workshops. The program provides an innovative approach to cross-cultural dialogue by building a solid network of Muslim and Jewish Fellows who share a common purpose in creating sustainable change.

Firoz is originally from Zaire (the present Democratic Republic of the Congo), is bilingual in French and English, and has his undergraduate degree from McGill University in Canada. He attended Wadham College at the University of Oxford when he was an Aga Khan Foundation scholar in the late 1980’s. Wadham, like all the other colleges at Oxford, is steeped in tradition.  Although things may have changed since, at the time Firoz was there gowns were worn at the head table in the dining hall, the chapel was lit exclusively with candles during religious services, a cloister-like silence was maintained in the library and the lawn in the enter of the Front Quadrangle was sacrosanct – no one was allowed to set foot on it since time immemorial.  Firoz loved Oxford- the beautiful old buildings, the tradition and the sense of belonging to an internationally renowned academic community. He pursued an MPhil in Middle Easter Studies and spent a year in Egypt studying Arabic. During that time, he also visited Syria, where he met some of the Syrian scholarship alumni and visited them in Salamieh and Al Khawabi in the mountains north of Damascus. An ISP alumna who was especially kind to him and whom he remembers with gratitude is Dr. Shahira Deebeh (ISP 82-83) a Gynecologist and Obstetrician who invited Firoz to live with her family while he was in Syria and through whom he met many of her family and friends.

After completing his Masters at Oxford, Firoz chose a career in international banking and his work with Paribas in Paris and South Africa and with Société Générale in Paris focused on financing large projects in the Arab region, Africa and Asia. About five years ago, he felt that he wanted to make a career shift and to concentrate on development-driven assignments. His work with the Rothschild Foundations brings him much satisfaction. Firoz has very recently taken another major step and, surrounded by family and friends from around the world,  has married Gul Rukh in a ceremony in Capetown, which holds many good memories for him from his time with Paribas South Africa.

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