Leadership in Action: Riaz Siddiqi

Riaz Siddiqi with Baruch College PSA Students

Riaz Siddiqi Baruch College Pakistani Students Association Talk (Part 1/3)

Riaz Siddiqi Baruch College Pakistani Students Association Talk (Part 2/3)

Riaz Siddiqi Baruch College Pakistani Students Association Talk (Part 1/3)

“I was very fortunate to be born in a family where serving others was considered to be the essential purpose of one’s existence…it was a DNA level attribute of every member of my family. For that, I will be eternally grateful” – Riaz Siddiqi

Riaz Siddiqi is the Chair of the Board of Directors of the American Pakistan Foundation as well as a Founder and Managing Partner at the private equity firm, Denham Capital. Originally from Lahore, Pakistan, Siddiqi developed a strong sense of giving back from his father, who ingrained the importance of helping others through a particular event that has a lasting impact on his life. On a monthly trip to the bazaar at the age of six, Siddiqi witnessed his father purchase food and clothes for a needy mother and her children. The money he used to help the family came from the funds usually budgeted for a toy purchase for Siddiqi and his siblings. Although Siddiqi and his siblings were upset at the time because there were no toys for them that month, his father’s generosity stayed with him for the rest of his life and served as the impetus for his life of public service.

A founding member of the APF Board since its inception in 2009, Siddiqi and the other members of the board have worked tirelessly to build the organization into a unique national organization dedicated to building bridges and lasting ties between the people of the United States and Pakistan; strengthening the Pakistani-American community; and catalyzing development at scale in Pakistan.  “Effective leadership starts first and foremost from the desire to serve in the first instance,” notes Siddiqi, “then it is the ability to visualize and articulate lofty goals, and to persuade colleagues and peers to collaborate selflessly. The principles I refer to as the abiding principles of entrepreneurship, can be applied universally to all aspects of life.  I approach public service with the same fundamental desire to learn, inspire, collaborate, replicate, and scale.”

Siddiqi alongside a team of motivated and passionate team members are applying this approach in Houston to grow the APF Houston chapter.  The chapter kicked off the national launch of a panel discussion series entitled Pakistan’s Emerging Economy, in partnership with the Woodrow Wilson Center with support from the U.S.-Pakistan Business Council. The event brought together the Houston business, academic, and philanthropic communities to explore economic growth in Pakistan.

Siddiqi believes fervently in inter-generational collaboration.  He and other members of the APF Board dedicate their time to provide guidance to young students, entrepreneurs, and emerging leaders.  In engaging with youth, he encourages them to use their most precious commodity to the fullest, “time is not something to be wasted, it should be productively utilized…interacting with another human and collaborating with them is crucial to creating value added relationships to build a sustainable future.”

The advice he shares with students is clearly something the entrepreneur says he tries to follow in his own life. In addition to being part of a “healthy vibrant family, who are all involved in constructive endeavors,” which he calls his greatest accomplishment, Siddiqi invests his spare time outside of Denham Capital to creating a better world. His work and dedication to APF’s mission not only strengthens the Pakistani community nationwide, but builds a platform for greater collaboration among people, places, and ideas – promoting a world that uses its resources for the greater good. One final thought he shares is, “the universal aphorism, from those to whom much is given, much is demanded, puts a huge burden on those who are fortunate enough to be able to have in excess of their needs and the obligation to serve others is magnified for those lucky people.”