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A Charter Member

A charter member is a person who wants to give back by sharing his wealth, education and expertise to transform aspiring entrepreneurs into top business leaders of tomorrow.

OPEN-Chicago Chapter

List of Charter Members 

Aamir Chalisa, President/CM

Aamir Chalisa is currently a Managing Director at the Oak Brook, IL branch for Futurity First Insurance Group (FFIG). He leads this branch with 40 agents and was the number 2 branch at Futurity in 2015 with over $2.5 Million in GDC. He joined this Company in a Sales Vice President role managing 6 branches for FFIG. Prior to this he was a Vice president of market development and diversity for Nationwide Financial Network (NFN), the affiliated retail distribution business of Nationwide Financial Services, Inc. (NYSE: NFS ). He was responsible for attracting qualified sales representatives and for enhancing Nationwide’s diverse markets presence.

Aamir has 24 years of experience with a successful track record of growing diversity in corporate America. At Nationwide, he played a critical role in growing the field sales force through various recruiting programs, working closely with management and with the company’s Multicultural Marketing team to increase Nationwide’s presence in diverse markets.

Prior to joining Nationwide, Aamir was in sales and management positions with Met Life, Prudential and Mony/AXA. With each company, he was responsible for developing and managing an experienced diverse field force while increasing the business presence in the local Chicago Land communities.

His responsibilities also included marketing, advertising and recruiting activities for all diverse segments. He played a critical role in supporting and developing one of the largest and most diverse Met Life agencies in the Chicago area.

Aamir is active in many diverse communities and spends many hours promoting diversity. He is a frequent speaker at industry conferences on marketing and diversity. He spoke at the GNP manager’s conference in Mexico City on Recruiting & Retention and also attended GAMA day in Manila in 2015.

Aamir is the Immediate Past President of the FBI Chicago Citizens Academy Alumni AssociationÍž General Secretary of the FBI National Citizens Academy Alumni Association and is active in many other community-based organizations. He represents his community on the Chicago Roundtable which is a group of individuals that help many Governmental Organizations learn about challenges in their communities. This is organized under the Department of Homeland Security and is represented by many Agencies such as FBI, TSA, USCIS, CBP, ICE, FEMA, US Attorney Generals office etc.

Aamir has won many sales and management awards throughout his career and qualified for the Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT) three times. Aamir is also on the Membership Committee of GAMA International and has attended GAMA’s LAMP conferences for the last 20 years. In 2015 he was appointed to the Board of Directors at GAMA to head up the India Task Force and also was named GAMA volunteer of the year. He has received GAMA’s first in class award twice in his career. He won GAMA awards in 2013, 2014 & 2015. He has also attended MDRT and LIMRA Conferences many times. He currently also serves on the NAIFA National 20/20 task force.

Aamir earned his undergraduate degree in Finance/Marketing and an MBA in Finance from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale.

Aamir lives in Naperville, IL with his wife Nuzhat who is an Endocrinologist and has 2 children Farah and Amaan. His hobby is travelling and he has travelled the world.

Haris Ahmed - Chairman/CM

Haris Ahmed is the Founder and CEO of Pragmatium Consulting Group Inc., a boutique management consulting firm that advises boards and management of organizations on strategy, transformational change and leadership challenges. He has over 20 years of experience as an organizational change and leadership expert. Haris is an experienced facilitator and has led numerous strategy workshops and leadership offsites. He is an invited speaker to numerous client and industry events and is known for his warm, yet strong, engaging and thought-provoking style. Haris serves as an Adjunct Consulting Executive (ACE) with AlixPartners LLP, a top-tier global business advisory firm and as a Senior Director with PRITCHETT LP, the premier merger integration advisory firm.

Haris has long standing advisory relationships with a number of CEOs and business leaders across different industries. In addition, he has successfully delivered on a variety of strategic, organizational and leadership challenges for professional services firms at different points in their evolution journey.

Prior to establishing Pragmatium, Haris was a Principal with Oliver Wyman, a global management consulting firm, consulting with C-level leaders on strategic change and leadership effectiveness. Before Oliver Wyman Delta, he was a Senior Consultant with Hewitt Associates leading consulting interventions in organizational change. He has also worked as a Consultant for Watson Wyatt Worldwide in their Organization Effectiveness practice and for PricewaterhouseCoopers in their Management Consulting practice.

Haris’ clients have included: Allstate Corporation, Booz Allen Hamilton, City of Chicago, City Colleges of Chicago, Independence Blue Cross, Internal Revenue Service, Hellman & Friedman, Inland Real Estate Group, Jones Lang LaSalle, Johnson & Johnson, KeyCorp, Mason Wells, MGM International, Motorola, Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Paragon Development Systems, Pitney Bowes, Provena Health, Resurrection Healthcare, Schneider Electric, United Airlines, and Unilever.

Haris is an active community leader and serves on the Board of a number of not-for-profit organizations. He is the President of OPEN Chicago, an entrepreneurial and leadership not-for-profit. He has been a guest lecturer at the University of Notre Dame on the topics of change and leadership.

Haris has an MBA (cum laude) from the University of Notre Dame with a focus on strategy and leadership and a BA in economics and politics from NYU. He has completed advanced leadership certifications including: Executive Integral Leadership (EIL), and Vital Leadership Advantage (VLA).

Dr. Khan Siddiqui 

Dr. Khan Siddiqui is a serial entrepreneur- currently the President, CTO and Chief Medical Officer of Higi llc. Dr. Siddiqui is responsible for the strategic direction of the company and leads the team in the development of Higi’s products and technologies. Higi is a consumer centric health engagement company that uses a combination of interactive and social tools to help consumers easily measure and track their body, lifestyle and community.

Prior to higi, he was a Physician Executive and Principal Program Manager at Microsoft responsible for platform engineering for the health solutions group. He was responsible for engineering execution on various enterprise health products as well as personal health record for consumers. One of his key achievements at Microsoft was stimulating computer vision research that led to the classification forest algorithm, which is the foundation technology in Xbox Kinect.

Farhan Masood 

Farhan Masood is an inspirational entrepreneur from Lahore and a tech innovator physical security space, who left a dream job in Dubai to pursue his career as a self employed professional. Farhan dropped out of Forman Christian College (Lahore) at the age of 19 to work for the King of Dubai when Voice of America broke his story from Washington as the originator of Arabic, Persian and Urdu languages on the internet in 1997.

His technological genius has been recognized across the globe over the last twenty years. With 37 International Awards and accolades, he is among the most innovative tech entrepreneurs from Pakistan. As the project director of Dubai e-Government he was directly involved in Immigration and Border security related projects worth over $196 million. Over the years Farhan has conducted extensive research on human identification and access management (IAM) and is amongst the pioneers of the emerging concept of Internet of People.

Farhan came to states after winning the Business Acceleration Program (BAP 2012 Competition) organized by MIT Enterprise Forum and Global Innovation through Science & Technology Award, organized by the US Department of State which caught the attention of investors and partners and became instrumental for the formation of SoloInsight in the US.

Azam Khan 

Azam Khan is Managing Director of AllPoints Foodservice. Azam was born in Lahore and raised in Toronto, Canada. Azam has been living in Chicago since 1981.

Enjoy motorcycle rides in spring and summer, rebuilding old cars, movies, travel and socializing with friends. Enjoy mergers and acquisition part of business life, successfully completed 42 acquisitions, formed 7 companies and exited 3 companies in commercial foodservice, one in gaming industry, one in physical therapy.

Started foodservice career in 1981 as an accountant for Consolidated Restaurant Services, Chicago, IL.

Co-founder – Consolidated Commercial Controls, 1983 a component manufacturer and distributor to commercial food equipment industry.

2006 Joined Pfingsten Partners, a Chicago private equity firm – Formed AllPoints Foodservice - Exited at over $120 Million

2010 Joined KRG Capital, a Denver private equity firm – Expansion of AllPoints Foodservice into 5 brands. Exited at over $300 Million in annual sales. Managed acquisition activity of physical therapy chain.

2015 Joined New Mountain Capital of New York, Formed Diversified Foodservice, as a unbranded platform company to facilitate acquisitions in foodservice industry. DFSI now owns seven brands engaged in distribution of commercial foodservice parts, supplies and equipment.

Omair Siraj 

Omair Siraj is a Chicago based health care entrepreneur since 2008, serving as the Founder & CEO of Chestnut Health Company, Inc. (CHC). Chestnut has emerged as a newly established platform catering to the major regulatory shift in the healthcare industry under Obama Care (ACA 2011). It comprises of a complete network of health care service companies and service lines that primarily focus on providing patient centric care that promotes the recent regulatory demands on providers i.e. to participate in risk based programs to achieve higher levels of population health at a lower cost, across the complete continuum of care. This includes establishing comprehensive care management programs for patients at acute care facilities, sub/post-acute and long term facilities, as well as at home setting. The service lines include the practice of hospital medicine, Rehab medicine/SNFist practice, community based office medicine, home visiting medicine and home health care. Currently, the service lines are offered in about 20 counties of Illinois, including all the major counties of Chicago Metropolis.

In October 2015, Omair completed the exit of his initial startup, Hospital Medicine Consultants, LLC, which was successfully acquired by IPC Healthcare (NYSE: TMH) based out of California - the nation’s largest publicly traded hospital based medical practice, grossing over $700 Million per annum.

Prior to entering the healthcare industry, Omair was serving as the Director of Global Resource Mobilization at NCHD - an international consortium between United Nations and the Government of Pakistan to achieve the UN’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 2000. Omair was based at the Prime Minister’s Secretariat, Islamabad (2003 – 2007). This initiative allowed him to lead in building global partnerships between Pakistan and the international donor community as well as corporate and individual donors based in the US, UK, Canada, Japan and UAE. These efforts raised over $30M during his time over there. The prime function of this initiative was to advance Universal Primary Education (UPE) and Health for All programs for women and children at the grassroots level in Pakistan. One of the breakthroughs of this initiative was winning the first grant for women’s health education in Pakistan directly from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in the amount of $5 Million. Some of the other partners included, USAID, UNF (Ted Turner), Lockheed Martin USA, DFID UK, CIDA Canada, JICA Japan, Prince Charles Foundation UK, Shell UK, Abraaj Capital UAE, Sheikh Nahyaan Al Mubarak Al Nahyaan UAE, Telenor PK, Unilever PK, AKD Securities PK and Nestle PK.

Prior to joining the United Nations, Omair was back in Chicago at the leading investment bank - Merrill Lynch, which had then, the largest amount of assets under its management globally, in the amounts of over $1 Trillion.

Syed Z. Ali 

Mr. Ali has over twenty years of electrical engineering experience. For the last twelve years he has been working as a president and CEO of ZZSI Inc. a Consulting Engineering firm. ZZSI Inc. has a long term contract with a firm called S&C Electric Co, which is one of the largest Major Electrical Equipment manufacturing company in the City of Chicago.

Mr. Ali works as Senior Business Development Engineer for S&C Electric Co., responsible for developing proposals, cost estimates, engineering estimates, installation estimates and schedules for large utility grade turnkey projects with major emphasis in the Renewable Energy market. The projects include substation, wind farm, solar power generation, power quality, DVR DSTATCOM and Large Medium Voltage UPS turnkey installations, substation upgrades, transmission and distribution lines, distribution automation projects etc.

Most recently Mr. Ali has started another startup company called Alternative Power Generation (APG) where he is serving as CFO. APG is a full service Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) company serving the global Renewable Energy market with major emphasis on the Solar Energy, Wind Energy and the upcoming large scale Energy storage market, as well as tying the renewable energy to the Grid including Substations and Transmission Lines

 Bilal A. Khan 

Bilal is a tech savvy executive with over 20 years of experience - who thrives in challenging, fast paced technology environment, with extensive experience of delivering advanced technology solutions. Rich mix of business management and technology development, with experience of managing multiple teams through accelerated agile product development to meet performance goals and strategic objectives. Expertise in building the right culture of innovation, defining high level objectives, providing design and architecture guidelines, instituting best practices to improve overall performance and build organizational capabilities.

Bilal is currently serving as Chief Technology Officer and VP of Engineering at Dedicated Computing LLC, a $120M privately held technology company that builds purpose specific computationally intensive platforms for mission critical applications in healthcare & life-sciences, military and industrial markets. Where Bilal has been responsible for creating technology strategy and execution plans for repositioning the company, creating and communicating strategic technology plans, prioritizing investments, and building engineering teams and culture. His areas of focus are innovation and R&D, and has successfully led the development and deployment of company’s IoT strategy with software defined remote monitoring & management services. Bilal is also Co-founder/Principal at Aspire Business Solutions, a Fin-tech startup focusing on small business financing & application process automation.

Previously Bilal led various R&D/Engineering activities for Nokia Siemens Networks and Motorola Inc, managing all phases of software engineering projects as part of their cellular networks technology. Khan is a graduate of DePaul University where he earned a MS in Computer Science/Data & Telecommunications Systems. He holds a BS degree in Computer Science from Indiana State University.

 Asif Khan 

Asif has over 20 years of experience in Technology. Most of his experience (over 12 years) has been with GE in leadership roles with increasing responsibilities at various GE businesses. Asif served about 8 years in various Senior and Global Product Marketing roles at GE Healthcare IT.

During his tenure at GE, Asif worked as an entrepreneurial catalyst driving positive change across various businesses. Starting at GE Capital Rail Services, he was the first Technology leader at GE Capital to outsource the IT support services, leading the way with best practices for the entire GE Capital businesses in 1999. In 2002, serving as a senior consultant (At the customer, for the customer Six Sigma Black Belt – ACFC BB) to ComEd, Asif revolutionized engineering processes through digitization and software automation. As a result, he was awarded a Leadership Award, and the project was presented to Jeff Immelt (Chairman and CEO of GE) as a best practice.

In 2004, Asif was able to successfully launch a healthcare vertical business at GE IT Solutions, integrating and commercializing the infrastructure capabilities of GE IT Solutions with GE Healthcare products. In 2006, Asif turned around a poorly performing product, Computed Radiography (an FDA Class II device), to significant profitability by closely working with strategic alliances (Agfa, Carestream and Konica), eliminating variable costs, shifting supply/chain and introducing regional sourcing worldwide. In 2007, he turned around another poor performing complex global product, doubling revenues within just one year through design innovation, issue prioritization, and brand management (engaging key industry leading customers’ expectations). In 2009, Asif led the successful demonstration of the first GE products based Image Exchange leveraging HIE framework and Healthcare IT standards. Before leaving GE Healthcare in late 2010, Asif was responsible for a portfolio of healthcare products generating $140 million annually with over 3000 customers (Hospitals and large clinics) worldwide.

Asif holds a B.A. in Journalism & History and a B.Sc. in Computer Science. He earned his M.B.A. from Booth School of Business – University of Chicago.

Zareefa Burki Flener 

Zareefa is a managing partner at FLENER IP LAW and has extensive experience managing international patent and trademark portfolios in a wide range of areas. She has also been highly successful in obtaining company goals in M&A deals including preparing, revising and negotiating intellectual property related agreements.  Zareefa regularly provides thorough and effective assistance to companies in their due diligence efforts.  

Zareefa was in the laboratory doing hands on research also for almost ten years before becoming a patent (intellectual property) attorney.  Her research and scientific experience is in two particularly explosive areas: HIV transmission and pathology, and mapping of the human genome.  Her masters project, from Loyola University of Chicago, involved mapping of the distal short arm of human chromosome 21, from the rDNA to the telomere, and she graduated with High Distinction.  She is well published in the field of HIV pathology in such journals as the American Journal of Pathology, Clinical Immunology, and the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

In addition to her Juris Doctorate, she received her Master of Science degree from Loyola University of Chicago, with Distinction, an accolade which had never before been awarded to a graduate student, and she has a Bachelor of Science in biology and a double major in Psychology.

She is well regarded by her clients and her peers, worldwide, for her attention to, and assistance with, international patent portfolios ranging from the electrical, to the mechanical, to the biotech, to the design arts, just to mention a few. She continues to strive for excellence through education and presentations to domestic colleagues at CLE functions, international associates and companies alike, as well as to tech parks, on the global state of intellectual property and specifically the nuances of patent prosecution and enforcement.

Prior to establishing FLENER IP LAW, Zareefa practiced at a prestigious international intellectual property firm for a decade. She was voted in as the first female partner in one of the offices. Her dedication and responsiveness to her clients sets her apart from others and is just one of the reasons for her honorable recognition and accolades from the international community. Zareefa’s clients have ranged from multinational companies to solo inventors, and she is well known to apply the same high level of care and dedication to each one.

Zareefa continues to work with a broad range of technology not the least of which is stem cells, virology, immunology, biochemical processes, cell culture, and laboratory instrument related inventions, among others.  Zareefa also prepares and prosecutes applications in technology areas of design, mechanical, biochemistry, electrical and medical devices. Zareefa also manages international trademark portfolios.

Zareefa is a member of the Chicago Bar Association, National Association of Women Business Owners, and is a Charter Member of the Chicago chapter of the Overseas Pakistani Entrepreneurs Network. Zareefa is currently pursuing national certification for Flener IP Law as a Women Owed Business Enterprise, specifically in the field of intellectual property, and continues to make at least two trips to China to see her Chinese clients, colleagues and associates each year.

OPEN Chicago is a Chicago Chapter of Open Global Initiative.
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