Salim Lalani graduated with a BA in Economics in 1967. He is an international banker, entrepreneur and philanthropist.
You were born and raised in Kenya, so how did you end up at Swansea University?
Kenya House in London offered me a choice between Aberystwyth and Swansea. Following research and difficulty pronouncing the former (!) the choice became simple. This turned out to be one of the best decisions of my life.
What has stuck with you from your time in Swansea?
Moving to the University’s Sibly Hall in the second term of my freshman year opened up a whole new world to me including forming a diverse new group of friends, learning bridge and playing chess until all hours.
I still maintain ties with several overseas students from many parts of the world and formed many bonds during my time as Chairman of the Overseas Students' Society,
Among the most memorable characters from whom I gained enormously were Swansea residents Len and Marion Goss. They took an active interest in the University and opened their home every Sunday evening to overseas students. They became close friends, mentors, and my local family.
Did your time at university influence your career?
Professor Dennis Lees was adamant that I should pursue further studies in applied economics, so I ended up at The University of Chicago, where Professor Lees had been a visiting professor. He advised me that the University of Chicago would waive the entrance requirements and offer financial assistance.
Chicago opened up a whole new world to me, not just in economics but also in trade, commerce, finance and international business. I met industry leaders, fellow students, many with business experience, and witnessed financial and commodities markets first-hand.
Can you share some of the highlights of your career?
One of the highlights from my career includes my assignment in Hong Kong as Asia-wide Head of Capital Markets for Bank of America, covering a vast region from Japan to India and down to Australia and New Zealand, leading a team of 53 professionals. This was one of the most challenging, competitive, successful and enjoyable professional and personal experiences of my career. The daily interaction with corporations, governments, industrialists, competitors involving multiple cultures, philosophies, languages and social life ensured there was never a dull day.
Another highlight was in 1987, when I formed Sandown Capital Corporation. A series of significant and pioneering transactions propelled and transformed the corporation into a private equity business, which became the mainstay of its business through the 1990s to 2018. Sandown has also been involved in equipment leasing business relating to the outside broadcast of professional sports.
You’ve lived all over the world and travelled extensively throughout your career. Where has been your favourite place to live?
I have loved every country and every place I have lived, so it is hard to pick. High on my list would be Manila because of the food, people, countryside and the professional aspects of work, closely followed by Hong Kong and London.
Now your various businesses and investment holdings are being wound down or sold, what is next for you?
I am edging into retirement but staying active and busy with personal holdings and educational, humanitarian and arts-related philanthropy. I sit on the Advisory boards of Montana State University, the Bozeman Symphony, and the Shane Lalani Center for the Arts, as well as personal business holding companies.
The most rewarding aspect of my current work is helping the younger generation obtain educational access through providing scholarships and mentoring. A large part of that involves the education, particularly of women, in the developing world (Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kenya, etc) as well as selectively in the USA and UK. Together with my wife, we are also very involved in projects to prevent child slavery and human trafficking.
Another very interesting and rewarding aspect of my current life is helping budding entrepreneurs and small businesses through mentoring and provision of capital to start up or grow the business.
I would like to continue my philanthropic and educational and business seeding endeavours while enjoying sports and travel around the world.