Chief Executive Officer
Amr El-Husseini is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Lodestone Advisory Group. Amr works with clients and portfolio companies located across the world in the areas of global innovation, entrepreneurship, business acceleration, ecosystem development, venture capital, international business, cross-border expansion, market-entry strategy, business and corporate strategy, deal negotiation, mergers and acquisitions, and corporate turnarounds. He is currently a Mentor at the Wond’ry, Vanderbilt University’s Innovation Center, a Board Member at the International Business Council of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, an Advisory Board Member to the Tennessee World Affairs Council, and has served on the Selection/Investment Committees for a number of local and international accelerators. Recently, Amr served a two-year term as a Board Member for an international banking subsidiary of the QIB Group, and has been selected as part of Nashville’s Leadership Connect 2017/2018 inaugural cohort.
Over the past several years, Amr has authored works and presented globally on entrepreneurship, corporate strategy, business innovation, cross-border expansion, banking, and Islamic finance, including speaking engagements at leading academic institutions and international forums. Amr has also been involved in investments and transactions around the world covering sectors such as financial services, technology, real estate, telecom, and infrastructure. He has previously led and successfully negotiated agreements with governments and multinational corporations for the development of international business enterprises.
Prior to founding Lodestone, Amr served as the Senior Executive Manager and Head of International Development at the Qatar Islamic Bank Group (“QIB”). In his capacity at QIB, he oversaw the bank’s international operations and strategic investments (M&A, Ventures and Integrations), as well as the bank’s international network stretching between the UK to Malaysia, where he led a number of successful turnarounds and transformation projects. Amr’s role with QIB also involved the development and execution of the bank’s international expansion strategy, where he led market entry initiatives into European, Asian, and GCC countries, including Malaysia, Indonesia, the UK, France, Turkey, Lebanon, China, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, Egypt and Sudan.
Prior to his work at QIB, Amr served as a Project Manager for Path Solutions, where he led large scale consulting projects for global and regional commercial and investment banks in areas that include banking strategy, international expansion, product development, fund management, treasury, core banking technology implementation, e-commerce, and risk management.
Before joining Path Solutions, Amr held various banking and consulting roles with regional and international groups including Fransabank, Ernst & Young, HSBC and Audi Bank.
Amr is a graduate of Harvard Business School’s General Management Program. He also graduated with an MBA from the University of Wales and a B.S. in Finance and Accounting from RHU, where he became recipient of the lifetime alumni achievement award. He also holds the CIPA certification from AAOIFI. Amr is fluent in English, French and Arabic.
Samar Ali is a Director with Lodestone Advisory Group. In this role, she supports clients with international engagements, business development and cross-border market entry. Samar’s career has been focused on the intersection of economic development and foreign relations. She started her career practicing law as a corporate lawyer at Hogan Lovells US LLP’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. and helped establish its first presence in the Middle East before she returned home to the United States to become a White House Fellow. As a White House Fellow, she focused on bi-lateral negotiations on behalf of the U.S. Government in Europe and the Middle East.
After Samar’s time working in federal government, she returned to her home state, Tennessee, to serve as Assistant Commissioner for International Affairs to Governor Bill Haslam, managing Tennessee’s global relations and establishing its international trade strategy to benefit both urban and rural counties. This strategy led to Tennessee being recognized by the IBM Institute of Business as the top state in the nation for foreign investments.
Samar serves or has recently served on the following boards: the Vanderbilt Alumni Board, the Vanderbilt Law School Board of Trust, the Board of Directors to Winrock International, the Board of Directors to the St. Thomas Medical Center. She is also an Adjunct Professor at Vanderbilt University, where she teaches negotiations and international relations. The World Economic Forum recently selected Samar as a Young Global Leader and the White House Fellows Foundation has awarded her with the White House Fellows IMPACT Award. Samar’s is also the recipient of the 2018 Young Alumni Professional Achievement Award from Vanderbilt University. She is a Term Member of the Council on Foreign Relations and was named Entrepreneur of the Year in 2014 by The Tennessean. Samar is frequently interviewed by the Wall Street Journal, the Hill, Forbes Magazine, the New York Times, the Nashville Business Journal, C-SPAN, and NPR.
Samar received a J.D. from Vanderbilt Law School and a B.S. in Political Science with Honors from Vanderbilt University, where she served as student body president.
Giles Cunningham serves as Senior Advisor with Lodestone Advisory Group, bringing over 25 years of experience in investment management, international banking, organizational leadership, insurance, and finance roles. He has a strong track record in delivering results in growth, re-alignment and turnaround situations. Strategy development to execution and leading M&A deals on the buy and sell sides are some core capabilities Giles has utilized in numerous international roles, in addition to large scale change and project management of organization-wide programs. He has experience across both conventional and Islamic finance. In addition to the UK, he has lived and successfully operated in countries including Brazil, the UAE, Malaysia, Qatar, Oman and Lebanon, accumulating extensive cross border experience.
Previously, Giles served as the Chief International & Investments Officer at Qatar Islamic Bank (QIB), responsible for the Group’s international banking operations and investment portfolio in the UK, Malaysia, Lebanon and Sudan. He led all group M&A, and was a Director on the Boards of Asian Finance Bank (Malaysia), Arab Finance House (Lebanon), QIB-UK (London) and QInvest, the largest investment bank in Qatar. Giles is also a founding shareholder of Insight Discovery, an award-winning market intelligence and media consultancy based in Dubai.Read more...
Giles started his career with the investment bank Kleinwort Benson before joining Lloyds Banking Group, where he spent much of his career. His roles at Lloyds Bank included CEO of the Middle East business based in Dubai, Strategy Director for Lloyds TSB Insurance, Managing Director of International Retail Banking and International Transformation Director based in London. He was also Finance Director at the Lloyds Bank-owned Brazilian finance company, Losango, based in Rio de Janeiro. Outside of the financial services industry, Giles held positions including Group CEO of the Zubair Corporation, an Omani-owned investment holding company with more than 5,000 employees across a diverse range of 30 international businesses including automotive, hotels, manufacturing and IT.
Giles is a graduate of Harvard Business School’s General Management Program. He also holds an MBA in Financial Services from Sheffield University in the UK and is an Associate of the Chartered Institute of Bankers UK. Along with being an elected Governor at Doha College, he is also a passionate fundraiser for the National Society for Phenylketonuria (NSPKU) in the UK. In his spare time, Giles loves to run.
Shyam Pullela serves as a Senior Technology Advisor with Lodestone Advisory Group, bringing 20+ years of experience in managing engineering teams and delivering multi-billion dollar revenue products. Shyam supports Lodestone with strategic programs for clients both internationally and domestically. He brings substantial expertise in the areas of engineering leadership and design, including project, process, product, and people management.
Prior to joining Lodestone, Shyam worked for almost seventeen years at Cisco Systems’ headquarters in San Jose, California. He was a founding member of the Internet of Things (IoT)/Smart Grid business unit of Cisco Systems and delivered several first-in-class products in the areas of Smart Grid, Manufacturing, Transportation, Oil & Gas and Public Services. In addition to being the Director of the System Development Group, Shyam was an executive member of the leadership team at Cisco, and helped driving the business strategy, designing long term plans, negotiating partnerships, and planning and delivering new products. Prior to that, Shyam also worked with Cisco as a Senior Manager and delivered several Data Networking products in the areas of both service provider and enterprise routing and switching.Read more...
Prior to joining Cisco, Shyam was a member of the technical staff at Hewlett-Packard Company, where he designed very high-speed multi-processor computing servers in one of the fastest computers in the world at that time. Shyam also worked in the Parallel Architectures and Computing Environments group in CMC Limited in India designing vector processing products for fingerprint recognition among other things.
Shyam is the author of several publications and has presented globally in industry leading conferences on technology. He is a graduate of Harvard Business School’s General Management Program. He also holds a certification in 'Advanced Project Management' from Stanford University, two Masters' degrees in Computer Science and Engineering from Indiana University and the Indian Institute of Technology, and a Bachelors' degree from the National Institute of Technology in India. Shyam has also recently completed several courses on “Big Data” and “Machine Learning”.
During his free time, Shyam enjoys being a feature editor in an online magazine in Telugu, his mother tongue, with more than 100,000 subscribers. He also writes poetry and has been invited to recite his work in several poets’ conventions.
Ali A. Zaatari
Ali Zaatari serves as a Senior Advisor with Lodestone Advisory Group, bringing over ten years of private equity and advisory experience in international markets. Ali supports clients with international mandates focusing on investment advisory, cross border transactions, market entry strategies, deal sourcing and execution.
Ali is also the current owner and president of Amalia SAL, a leading wholesale distributor of agrochemicals and seeds based in the Middle East since 1979. Ali took over the business in November of 2011 and led the quick turnaround of the company through capital restructuring and implementation of new management processes, and other significant measures that positioned the company towards long term sustainability, growth and a healthy balance sheet. Ali oversees the working capital management of the company, relationships with banks, and is currently involved in negotiations to expand Amalia regionally.Read more...
Prior to joining Amalia, Ali co-founded Windtower Partners with a view to create a buy side platform and conduit for cross border commercial and hospitality investments in core markets in the US and Europe. Windtower Partners’ primary mandate is to acquire high quality real estate and related assets with its operating partners and global capital sources including sovereign wealth funds, institutional investors and family offices. Windtower Partners was established at the peak of the subprime crisis to capitalize on special situations and refinancing opportunities in core markets. Ali was involved in sourcing on- and off- market deals though a network or owners/operators and third party intermediaries, performing the financial analysis, deal structuring, managing the due diligence process, and negotiating all related documents. Windtower Partners made offers for over $2.4 billion of assets on behalf of its MENA- and US- based investors.
Before co-founding Windtower Partners, Ali worked with Istithmar Real Estate, one of the leading real estate private equity arms of the Dubai government that owns high quality assets globally. Ali joined Istithmar as an associate, where he focused on hospitality industry deals in the US, UK and Africa. During his tenure, Ali was in charge of conducting the financial analysis, preparing and presenting memos for the investment board, reviewing all deal related documents, working closely with advisors and lenders to complete the transaction process efficiently, and ensuring post acquisition hand over to the asset management team.
Prior to Istithmar, Ali worked on the advisory side of the business with AlShall Investment Company, a Kuwait-based boutique investment bank where he advised institutional investors in the GCC on deals across a range of sectors, including industrial, real estate and Islamic institutions. Ali was in charge of carrying out valuations and feasibility studies, and formulating strategic plans on behalf of its clients. Ali also worked on road shows for public and private placements across the GCC.
Before moving to Kuwait, Ali resided in the US where he worked at Institutional Shareholder Services, a Washington, D.C.-based corporate governance firm. Ali joined as an analyst in 2004 where he advised institutional investors on corporate governance issues ranging from board elections to mergers and acquisitions.
Ali holds a Masters of Science in Finance from the George Washington University and a BA in Business Administration from the American University of Beirut. He is fluent in Arabic, French and English.
Patrick Baird is an Engagement Manager with Lodestone Advisory Group, where he works on projects in technology, innovation, strategy, venture capital, the public sector and entrepreneurship globally. Patrick career and professional training have both been centered around entrepreneurship and management consulting.
While in business school, Patrick founded Axys Solutions, an IT and management consulting firm specializing in contract transitions and organizational change on behalf of prime contractors serving local, state, and federal government agencies.
Patrick was an Associate at Lodestone Advisory Group from January 2014 through 2016, where he developed strategies for global clients and engaged in the development and study of entrepreneurial ecosystems worldwide. He has worked on projects in the US, Germany, Mexico, South Africa, Qatar, the UAE, the Palestinian territories, Italy, the United Kingdom, and Lebanon, where he worked on the development and delivery of an international accelerator program and managed the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor survey team.
Prior to Lodestone, Patrick was Chief of Staff of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development’s International Division, where he co-authored and executed a Five-Year International Strategy for job growth amongst small- and medium-size businesses and laid the groundwork for the State of Tennessee’s global business development footprint by establishing eight international offices for trade development and recruitment of foreign direct investment.
He is a founding member of the Foundation for Society, Law and Art in South Africa, a US non-profit that supports the preservation of the Constitutional Court of South Africa’s Art Collection, centered on the themes of justice, human rights, and reconciliation. As a strategic advisor to the Board of Directors, Patrick supported the creation of an endowment to secure the future of the Collection. In 2015 he cofounded the E Pluribus Unum Foundation, a non-partisan organization dedicated to defending and promoting American values and interests while exploring the themes of American Citizenship.
Patrick graduated with an MBA from the Owen Graduate School of Management at Vanderbilt University. He also holds a B.S. from Babson College, where he coached in the 2014 Babson Entrepreneurial Leadership Academy in Rwanda as an alumnus. In 2015, he was selected as one of 10 Americans to travel to Japan for meetings with public and private sector leadership as part of the TOMODACHI-Mitsui Leadership Program. Patrick is a Trustee of the Webb School of Knoxville, a Board Member of the Phoenix Club of Nashville, an Associate Member of the U.S.-Japan Council, and a founding president of the Babson Alumni Club of Tennessee. Additionally, Patrick has served on the Babson Alumni Association’s Board of Directors since 2016, representing the interests of Babson’s 40,000+ alumni to the College administration; he was nominated to join the Board’s Executive Committee in 2018.
Adnan Zulfiqar is a Senior Advisor to the Lodestone Advisory Group, bringing substantial private and public sector experience to the team, as well as over a decade of field experience in the Middle East, sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Prior to joining Lodestone, Adnan was an Associate in the Washington, D.C. office of Hogan Lovells, LLP where he was a member of the Investigations, White Collar and Fraud Group.
His practice focused on advising clients on government enforcement actions, corporate compliance, internal investigations and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. In addition, Adnan was also a member of the Legislation and Political Compliance Group, where he provided guidance to the firm's clients on matters relating to the Middle East and Central Asia.Read more...
Previously, Adnan served as Team Leader on a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) sponsored project helping the Republic of the Maldives draft their first comprehensive criminal code and commentary. In this role, he collaborated with various actors in the Maldives, including judges, government officials, clergy, and parliamentarians to produce a final product that synthesized international norms, indigenous law and Islamic legal principles. Adnan was also the Law & Public Policy Fellow at Annenberg's Center for Global Communication Studies in Philadelphia, where he conducted research on the intersection of religion, militant propaganda and democracy in the Middle East and South Asia. In addition, Adnan previously served on the Legislative Staff of and as Personal Aide to U.S. Senator Max Cleland, helping develop his policy and legislation on education, urban affairs and immigration issues. He also routinely briefed the Senator on major foreign policy matters.
Currently, Adnan is a Strategic Advisor to Urbane Development, LLC, where he focuses on developing innovative solutions for distressed urban communities to strengthen their asset base in order to build a sustainable revitalization process. He is also a Fellow with the Truman National Security Project and Senior Counsel to GSIS. Adnan received his J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School, an M.A. in Arabic & Islamic Studies from the University of Pennsylvania, an M.A.L.S. in International Affairs from Georgetown University and a B.A. in Religion and Anthropology from Emory University. He is proficient in five languages and is presently completing his doctorate in Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations from the University of Pennsylvania.