Born in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, Mr. Shariff is an American citizen. A fourth generation East African, Mr. Shariff spent his early childhood in a multi-generational household in Tanzania and Kenya. His family later emigrated to Hong Kong and Canada. Mr. Shariff holds a BA degree from Amherst College, graduating magna cum laude in economics and chemistry. In his graduating class, Mr. Shariff was awarded the Amherst College Economics Prize, in recognition of his undergraduate thesis—an algorithm assessing the effectiveness of IMF-lending programs—subsequently purchased by the World Bank Group. With a keen interest in understanding different regions of the world, Mr. Shariff then pursued an MA from the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at The Johns Hopkins University, where he was the recipient of an Amherst College Memorial Fellowship. He arranged to pursue jointly an MPPM from the Yale School of Management where he graduated with distinction in finance. During his studies, Mr. Shariff interned with Lehman Brothers, and was invited to join the firm’s Global Power Group upon graduation. He spent nine years through 2001 at Lehman Brothers in the Emerging Markets, Global Power, and M&A Groups, having completed over $50 billion in M&A and capital-raising transactions involving companies principally in Asia and South America. During these formative years, Mr. Shariff spent considerable time in China and Thailand, as well as Brazil and Argentina. Partly because of his early emerging markets’ exposure, Mr. Shariff was among the first employees seconded to Lehman’s inaugural effort in India in 1994. In 2001, Mr. Shariff co-founded, with five of his former Lehman colleagues, Marco Polo Network, currently the largest independent platform for electronic trading of securities listed and traded on emerging market exchanges, whose shareholders include the New York Stock Exchange Group and the International Finance Corporation. Understanding the informational and reporting inefficiencies within the ‘alternative’ fund industry, Mr. Shariff helped establish and sponsor VITEOS Fund Services, a fund administrator based in Mumbai, now a holding of an affiliate of Credit Suisse’s global prime brokerage business. Mr. Shariff was formerly a senior executive within the Principal Investments Division, the proprietary investment group within SHUAA Capital—a Dubai-based investment banking firm established in 1979.
In 2005, Mr. Shariff established the Saffron Scholarship Fund, a permanently endowed scholarship fund at Amherst College—whose aim is to improve the access, depth, breadth, and quality of education afforded to Indian students while encouraging them at the outset to return with that newfound knowledge to India and to make an impact.
In November, 2008, Mr. Shariff was held captive for 44 hours at The Oberoi in Mumbai during that city’s terrorist attacks; he was miraculously and daringly rescued by Indian paramilitary troops. He then spent some time thinking about his experiences in India and the Middle East and the misunderstandings that persist. Six months later, Mr. Shariff founded Majlis Investment Management, (Majlis means assembly) whose focus is identifying and developing multi-strategy, multi-asset class global investment opportunities alongside substantial private clients across the Middle East, East Africa, and the Sub-Continent. The firm’s philosophy is rooted in the belief that regional investors should benefit from access to sophisticated investment approaches that are customized to their preferences.
Mr. Shariff speaks four languages, enjoys photography, creative writing, African art, and plays tennis. He lives between Dubai and New York with his wife and two children.