Pakistani-American CEO: I Used To Let People Think I Was Indian Because I Was Afraid

Fahad KhanFahad KhanFahad Khan: ‘There is no place like America in the world for entrepreneurs but being an immigrant does come in the way sometimes.’

Fahad Kahn is a proud American citizen and Pakistani-American.

But, in the industry he’s chosen to work, Kahn hasn’t always felt comfortable revealing his origins.

Kahn is a serial entrepreneur who has founded several companies in the tech sector.

Currently, he is the chairman of one, a marketing firm named One Public, and the CEO of another, Tube Centrex.

A couple weeks ago, we were out with Kahn having coffee and he told us that when he first moved to the United States and entered the tech industry, he sometimes quietly allowed people to believe he was born in India, not Pakistan.

We asked him to explain why he did this. In an email, Kahn sent this thoughtful reply:

I’m a very proud Pakistani-American. When I immigrated to the U.S. few years back, I was very afraid of discrimination based on my name, faith and origin. Whenever I was asked about my origin, I used to say I was from Lahore, which is my hometown. Many people confused Lahore with Bangalore and assumed it was in India. I never corrected them, thinking that Indian label might be better for business.

Overtime I realised that everyone is an immigrant in America. When I’m asked the origin question now, I say, “I’m a first-generation American and where are you originally from?”

To be clear, there is no place like America in the world for entrepreneurs but being an immigrant does come in the way sometimes. I won’t say there is a race issue in tech, but if I were born here and white, all else constant, I would have been 10 years ahead of where I am today. 

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