zahara kassam

MBA '11

Zahara has spent the past ten years developing extensive experience across Europe as a real estate investor, asset manager and operator, before recently relocating to the United States. Most recently, Zahara was instrumental in launching and scaling the hotel real estate portfolio and asset management platform at Marathon Asset Management. In this role, Zahara sourced, negotiated and executed the acquisition of 20 full-service and select-service hotels (representing nearly 4,000 bedrooms) and secured financing for the portfolio. In addition, she established strategic planning, financial reporting and capital expenditure processes for the platform, oversaw an extensive capital expenditure plan (including the rebranding and F&B repositioning of several properties), and negotiated strategic asset dispositions. Prior to Marathon Asset Management, Zahara was a Director at InterContinental Hotels Group, where she was responsible for increasing  the distribution of IHG's brands by structuring and negotiating over 100 franchise, management, joint venture and M&A transactions across Europe. Zahara launched her career as an M&A Analyst at Citigroup, and grew up as an instrumental contributor to the family real estate business (hotels, single-family residential and retail). Since moving back to the United States, Zahara has served as the Interim Head of Real Estate Business Development at Industrious, the nation’s fastest-growing co-working operator, where she defined the company’s asset-light strategy, and as an independent consultant for HDG Hotels, a fast-growing hotel development and management group.  

Zahara holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics and Development Studies from Brown University, as well as an MBA from Harvard Business School. Outside of her professional commitments, Zahara is committed to finding innovative ways to apply private capital to drive economic development. She was selected by the Canadian International Development Agency and the Aga Khan Foundation Canada as an International Microfinance and Microenterprise Fellow; in this role, she developed a microfinance program for low-income female entrepreneurs in rural India. During her time at Harvard Business School, she served as the co-President of the Social Enterprise Club. Currently, she is a Board Member of CIANA (Center for the Integration & Advancement of New Americans), and contributes to thinking groups on poverty alleviation and affordable housing in South Asia and Central Asia.