Ali Alam Qamar.

From Silicon Fen to Pakistan: Ali Alam Qamar’s startup journey

13 December 2023

The article at a glance

Student Ali Alam Qamar (MFin 2022) looks back on his MFin year and how his time in Cambridge has helped him expand his family business and start his entrepreneurial journey.

Category: News Programme news

Ali Alam Qamar with his friends.
Representing the CU Polo Team at the SUPA Championship

As I walked through the labyrinth of hallways at Magdalene College, memories of a pivotal moment in 2013 flooded back, when I was summoned by the Principal of Aitchison College on my GCSE result day. His tenacious demeanour and resonant voice asserted, “These grades won’t secure your place at Cambridge, my boy.” These words lingered, kindling a determination to pursue entry into the University of Cambridge.

Lessons in leadership and time management

My time at Cambridge unfolded a realm of opportunities and knowledge. Engaging with eminent leaders like Dr Mohamed El-Erian, former CEO of PIMCO, the Prime Minister of Montenegro, Mr Dritan Abazovic, and the former Vice Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Roger Ferguson Jr. not only provided insights into transformative policies but also bestowed lessons in leadership.

Amidst lectures, networking sessions, formals, and thrilling polo experiences – including representing the Cambridge Polo Team at the SUPA Championship at Rugby Polo Club and attending the snow polo world cup in St. Moritz – effective time management became a skill I honed. Nurturing friendships that I am confident will endure a lifetime was an invaluable aspect of my journey.

The start of an entrepreneurial journey

Ali with classmates at the MFin induction and matriculation

As the MFin programme concludes, my path leads me back to Pakistan, where I aim to take my family business and entrepreneurship journey to new heights. I will be taking charge of the expansion plans for Flying Group – one of Pakistan’s leading industrial conglomerates operating in the cement, paper, tissue and energy sectors.

Simultaneously, my entrepreneurial journey is unfolding through Zarea, a technology-driven marketplace revolutionising Pakistan’s construction industry. Zarea aspires to be the Amazon of construction, offering a one stop solution for SMEs, retailers and homeowners. My MFin experiences have been invaluable as I embark on my journey to try and build Pakistan’s first unicorn startup.

Immersed in Silicon Fen’s dynamic startup milieu, I engaged with ground-breaking startups like Arm and gleaned insights from visionaries like Matt Clifford. Modules such as New Venture Finance and Venture Capital and the Entrepreneurial World equipped me with a profound understanding of venture capital investing. In my Group Consulting Project, I pitched a startup to Mr Monish Suri, a Partner at Prime Ventures, receiving constructive feedback that unveiled our strengths and weaknesses.

Making memories and life beyond the lecture theatre

Ali Alam Qamar during a College dinner.
CUPC event at The Queen’s Club

My time at Cambridge wasn’t merely an academic pursuit; it evolved into a voyage marked by personal growth, joy, and achievement. Engaging in the vibrant social life, exploring the rich history of the city, and participating in the numerous extracurricular activities, I forged memories that will forever be etched in my heart.

The collegiate atmosphere, the stimulating intellectual discussions, and the camaraderie with fellow students created an environment where learning extended beyond the lecture halls. As I reflect on these moments, I am not only equipped with an MFin degree but also with a wealth of experiences that have shaped my character.

Now, as I stand at the threshold of new challenges, the resilience and adaptability cultivated during my time at Cambridge propel me forward, ready to confront life’s challenges with unwavering enthusiasm and determination.

Beneath Cambridge’s towers where dreams took flight, Shamim Saheb’s challenge kindled a determined light. Leaders’ wisdom, friendships in delights, In life’s venture, a new chapter’s in sight.

Ali Alam Qamar, MFin 2022

About the blog author

Ali joined the MFin programme with extensive experience in the entrepreneurship, fundraising and operations sectors. Prior to starting his MFin, Ali was Director of a conglomerate in Pakistan operating in the cement, paper, and energy sectors. He is also the founder of a rapidly growing startup that aspires to be a leader in Pakistan’s construction industry.

He passionately advocates for economic inclusion and thematic skill development of women in rural areas of Pakistan. Beyond his professional pursuits, Ali is an enthusiastic squash player and enjoys indulging in poetry.