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AUS the bedrock for tech entrepreneur’s international success
American University of Sharjah (AUS) alumnus Benna Iqbal has always possessed an entrepreneurial spirit and a mindset that embraces innovation and critical questioning. It is these qualities that have stood him in good stead and brought him success in the highly competitive investment sector.
Iqbal started as a freelance web developer at the age of 15. While studying for his bachelor’s degree in computer engineering at AUS College of Engineering (CEN), the young entrepreneur had already formalized his business. He established his first company called Global Invisions, which focused on software development projects and services.
Following his graduation from AUS in 2015, Iqbal moved to the US where he founded GI Holdings, a private equity holding company. He set up this company in New York by utilizing the profits he made from his software consulting business. Currently, Iqbal’s business group comprises seven companies with 60 percent of its investments made in privately held companies, 20 percent in real estate, and 20 percent in public capital markets.
“We invest and manage a portfolio of companies in aerospace, capital markets, healthcare and infrastructure. Our company has investments and offices in the US, UK, the UAE and India. We are a controlling investor, and we invest and manage companies that are profitable with sustainable growth. The company is 100 percent private and funded by organic growth and dividends from existing portfolio, as opposed to regular private equity companies that raise funds through the capital markets. We manage a portfolio valued somewhere in the region of $100M today,” explained Iqbal.
As founder and CEO, he is responsible for overseeing the growth and expansion of the company portfolio as well as exploring new investment opportunities.
In 2016, Iqbal joined the executive education program at Stanford University Graduate School of Business. “Stanford was great. I met many like-minded individuals and the learning was hardly theoretical. Most of my experiences included other people who were in similar career positions and who shared their business experiences. There was a focus on strategic problem solving and building friendships,” he said.
Reflecting on his time at AUS and the impact it had on him and his career, Iqbal said that his years at AUS were instrumental in laying a strong foundation on which he was able to build on and grow. “The friendships and professors I met there were my rock. They supported me all the way. AUS shaped my personality and outlook. Of course, I encountered challenges in my business and even failed at times, but it was the people there who supported me through my difficult times. I’ll forever be grateful for the people I met at AUS.”
Committed to introducing and supporting new avenues of tech and business innovation and entrepreneurship, Iqbal’s future plans focus on continuing to grow GI Holdings and the public offering of some of his portfolio, such as GI Aerospace.
For more information on the computer science and engineering program at AUS, visit: www.aus.edu/cen/department-of-computer-science-and-engineering