Elham Al Qasimi was born in July 1982 in Dubai, UAE but lived in the United States until the age of twelve. While in the United States, Elham became extremely athletic, swimming almost daily, and then taking up gymnastics at the age of six. Elham then decided to simultaneously take up Tang Soo Do, a Korean martial arts technique, and competed nationally in the US, earning silver and gold medals in the respective forms of weapons and free sparring.
Elham finished high school in the UAE in 1999 and graduated at the age of 16 from Al Mawakeb High School with a distinction award, a recognition award for all around excellence, and The President’s Shield. She was president of the Student Council and also a dedicated scout for the last four years of her schooling, earning numerous team and individual distinctions.
Elham earned a Bachelor’s degree in Business with a concentration in Marketing at the American University in Dubai in 2004. During that time, she earned the Sheikh Mohammed scholarship and graduated Suma Cum Laude. During her last year in AUD, Elham joined the marketing team at Dubai Aid City, in an effort to gain work experience ahead of her planned graduate studies.
In September 2004, Elham moved to London and began her studies at the London School of Economics. She studied in the School of Social Policy and earned an MSc in Management of NGOs with a Distinction on her graduating thesis and an overall Merit. Having completed her graduate studies, Elham then undertook an internship at the Overseas Development Institute, a leading think tank for international development.
Elham then began work at J P Morgan in January 2006. After completing a two-month corporate finance training programme in New York, Elham was placed in the Global Diversified Industrials Team based in London, working on merger and acquisitions transactions in industries such as building materials, chemicals, metals and mining, and infrastructure.
After three years, Elham left J P Morgan and joined the Impetus Trust as an investment manager. Impetus is a venture philanthropy fund, which means they apply the principles of venture capital to investing for philanthropic purposes. As an investment manager it was Elham’s job to conduct due diligence on charities and social enterprises and identify those with the most distinctive delivery models and build a case for investment committee approval. Elham stayed with Impetus for around a year but she has recently resigned in order to focus completely on her North Pole expedition.