Today, Frank Islam is regarded as a successful entrepreneur, philanthropist, civic leader and thought leader in both his home county and the United States. On this week’s episode of Those Who Made It, airing exclusively on ZEE TV, viewers will learn about his journey from living in a remote village in India to a 16-bedroom mansion in Washington D.C.
Despite the fact that his parents passed away when he was just 24-years-old, long before he built his tech empire, Islam tells ZEE TV that they played a major role in his success. Not a day goes by where he does not mourn the loss of his parents, and while they may no longer be with him today, Islam says he carries the lessons he learned from his parents every day. It was his mother and father, he says, who instilled in him the importance of love and compassion.
At the tender age of 16, Islam would leave his life in India behind in pursuit of the ‘American Dream.’ While he initially had reservations about the move, Islam knew that there were more opportunities across the Atlantic Ocean. He attended the University of Colorado in Boulder, where he received his Bachelor’s Degree and his Master’s Degree in Computer Science. After earning his Master’s Degree, Islam would once again relocate – this time to Ontario, Canada, where he earned a PhD.
Islam’s first job was at an IT firm in Ontario. It was there he would meet the love of his life – Debbie Driesman – an accomplished techie in her own right. On this week’s episode of Those Who Made It, Islam tells ZEE TV that Debbie plays an instrumental role in his philanthropic efforts. While the two had very different upbringings, Islam says his wife was equally committed to giving back to the community.
In 1994, Islam took the plunge and started his own IT company, QSS. Under his leadership, the tech mogul would grow QSS from a one-employee company with a networth of $1 to a 3,000-employee company with an annual revenue of $400 million. In 2007, he sold his company, and with those earnings, Islam would have the financial freedom he needed to establish the Frank Islam & Debbie Driesman Foundation – a nonprofit created with the mission to promote education, arts and culture, and peace and conflict resolution.
In the years that followed, Islam would gain national recognition for both his success in the information technology sphere, and his commitment to civic, educational and artistic causes. As a major influencer in the Democratic Party, Islam has had the opportunity to exchange thoughts with some of the world’s most prominent leaders, including Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton.
In September, 2013, President Barack Obama appointed Islam to be the General Trustee of the Board of Trustees of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. In an exclusive interview with ZEE TV’s Those Who Made It, friends of Islam speak about his multifaceted relationship with the former President. They noted that Islam’s unique experiences as an immigrant allow him to speak from the heart, providing world leaders with valuable political insight.
With the goal of dedicating his life to the service of others, Islam tells ZEE TV he is constantly seeking new ways to inspire others to do the same. In addition to his many philanthropic efforts, Islam has written two well regarded books on the American condition, Working the Pivot Points: To Make America Work Again (2013) and Renewing the American Dream: A Citizen’s Guide for Restoring Our Competitive Advantage (2010).
All while heading the FI Investment Group, Islam also serves on number boards and advisory councils including the U.S. Institute of Peace, the Woodrow Wilson Center, and the Brookings Institution; and on various boards and councils at more than half-dozen universities including Johns Hopkins, University, American University and George Mason University. But these are just a few of his many charitable initiatives. He has also dedicated millions of dollars to various notable causes, including a $2 million to build Frank and Debbie Islam Management Complex at Aligarh Muslim University. He also gave $1 million to US Institute of Peace and committed $1 million to John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts.
To those who listen to his story, Islam serves as a beacon of hope, inspiring immigrants from India and beyond to reach for the stars. But as viewers will learn on this week’s episode of Those Who Made It, Islam’s proudest accomplishment is not the money he makes as a widely successful tech entrepreneur. Instead, Islam finds wealth in giving back through philanthropy, carrying with him the wish of his parents to make a positive difference in the world.
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