I was born in Afghanistan and came to the US as a child. I didn’t speak the language. Since then, this country has rewarded my hard work with educational opportunities and success in the business and philanthropic arenas. The US gave me the opportunity to be self-made and,in all honestly, gave me everything I have.
I come from a family dedicated to study and academics. My father, Ali Ahmad Jalali, is the former Afghan ambassador to Germany and Distinguished Professor in the Near East South Asia (NESA) Centre for Strategic Studies at the National Defense University in Washington, DC. He has three doctorate degrees and gave me and my sister, a physician, a strong educational framework and upbringing. My grandfather was a professor. I guess that makes me the underachiever of the family! I originally intended to study medicine, but eventually my technical aptitude and entrepreneurial spirit led me to get a double major with Philosophy and an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. I am especially proud of my MBA as it really helped to progress my business career. Most importantly it helped me to put theory into practice. I always recommend it to young people as well as technical degrees because they help to prepare one for the business world.
I am passionate about philanthropy, food and wine, and travel. As a renowned lover and collector of wine I was only the third American to be knighted for my love of Burgundy wine by Fraternity of Knights of the Wine-Tasters’ Cup (Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin).
I was a professional volleyball player and also played for the US national soccer/football team (under 17). More recently, I’ve discovered a passion for golf which allows me to play at Pebble Beach in Monterrey, California – my first home in the United States. Sport in general and golf in particular have given me discipline, concentration and focus which as a result helped me succeed in other areas such as business and philanthropy.