Mossadiq Umedaly: Entrepreneur. Refugee. Philanthropist. Problem solver. Born July 4, 1951, in Kampala, Uganda; died Dec. 28, 2021, in Vancouver, of complications from leukemia; aged 70.
When he was 20 years old, Mossadiq Umedaly chose to study in Canada because he saw it as a country with the influence, resources and leadership to positively impact the world.
Mossadiq and Yasmin, his girlfriend since age 12, arrived together as students at McMaster University in 1971. He then became a refugee when Idi Amin expelled all Ugandan citizens of Asian origin. Mossadiq would spend the next 45 years as an entrepreneur, philanthropist and adviser helping to build cleantech industries – it was his main focus and contribution to the country that welcomed him.
Mossadiq earned his Chartered Accountant designation in 1978 and worked for PricewaterhouseCoopers. The now married couple left Ontario for Rome where he was stationed for 1.5 years. He then joined the Aga Khan Development Network and moved to Karachi, Pakistan, for eight years to help plan, develop and operate Aga Khan University as its chief financial officer. In 1989, Mossadiq, Yasmin and their son returned to Canada and settled in British Columbia, where he wanted to raise his family.
In B.C., he worked as CFO at Ballard Power Systems, one of the first cleantech companies in the world. In 1999, he helped build and grow another cleantech innovator, Xantrex Technology, improving the harvest of energy from solar panels and wind turbines. In 2007, he became chairman of BC Hydro and the following year, Simon Fraser University recognized Mossadiq’s contributions by awarding him an honorary Doctorate of Laws.
Colleagues, friends and family learned pretty quickly that there was no pulling the wool over his eyes – Mossadiq was happy to tell you if you were full of it or if he disagreed with you. He interacted with many high-power individuals and he was not intimidated by anyone whatsoever because he was certain of the right path.
While he was a loving and generous family man, he was also a perfectionist with limited patience. This extended to his parenting style with his two children, Farhan and Aryannah. His standards were high in every aspect. Mossadiq was naturally gifted at field hockey and most racquet sports so it was really tough to learn a sport from him without it ending in meltdowns for either father or children!
Family, however, was one of his greatest motivators. When Aryannah got married in the family home, he was so excited that his planning became overzealous. She called him Dadzilla (and was only sort of joking). Mossadiq also doted on his only grandchild, born 2019. Raika was allowed to clamber all over his immaculately kept Porsche and push every button, and Mossadiq didn’t even flinch.
He always loved to travel, heading all over the world for business and pleasure. He planned family trips to some of the world’s most amazing places – the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, game parks in Botswana and the landscapes and architecture of Turkey, just to name a few. Part of the enjoyment was in the planning – even the location of every meal was mapped out with anticipation of the perfect experience.
In 2006, he took his family back to Kampala and he was able to show them where he and his four siblings grew up. This emotional trip added colour and detail to the many amazing stories of his young life there.
Mossadiq began fighting cancer in his early 50s, initially as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and later leukemia, but he continued to work throughout. He received a bone marrow transplant from his sister a decade ago but suffered long-term complications.
Though Mossadiq achieved incredible success in his career, his modest roots were the core of who he was – ambitious, hard working and ready to do good in the world. At Mossadiq’s direction, a foundation will be established to support the education of exceptional young people who may not otherwise have the opportunity to reach their full potential.
Aryannah Rollinson is Mossadiq Umedaly’s daughter.
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