Ajaz Khowaj Quoram Ahmed

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Ajaz Khowaj Quoram Ahmed
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Ahmed in April 2010
Born1973 (age 49–50)
Taplow, Buckinghamshire, United_Kingdom
CitizenshipUnited Kingdom
Years active1994 - present
Board member ofAKQA (1994 - present)
  • Khowaj Ahmed[2] (father)
  • Sughran Ahmed[2] (mother)

Ajaz Khowaj Quoram Ahmed, (born May 1973) is a British internet entrepreneur, business magnate, author and philanthropist. He is best known as the co-founder and CEO of multi-national digital agency AKQA.

Born and raised in Buckinghamshire, Ahmed dropped out of a business degree at the University of Bath in 1994 to start AKQA. He worked in England's "Silicon Valley" in a number of related roles from 1988 to 1994. He co-founded AKQA in 1994 with designer James Hilton.[3]

In 2018, Ahmed was recognised with an MBE for 'services to media'.

Early life

Ajaz Khowaj Quoram Ahmed was born in Taplow, Buckinghamshire[4] in May 1973. His father, Khowaj Ahmed, worked at a Beechams factory, while his mother, Sughran Ahmed, worked at a hospital launderette.[2][5]

In his high school years, Ahmed took a job as as a local paperboy, which included delivering newspapers to the UK headquarters of dBASE developer Ashton-Tate|Ashton-Tate. It was here. that Ahmed began his notable career, when he was offered work experience, aged 15, returning regularly in school holidays, eventually using the company’s software to author an improved financial system for purchase orders.[5] Ahmed later worked at other local tech firms, Ocean Software, a UK computer games specialist and, after leaving school, spent a year working in marketing and public relations for Apple_Inc.|Apple[6][7][8][5]

After turning down jobs offers in copywriting and brand management[6], Ahmed opted to read business studies at the University of Bath.[7]


It was at the University of Bath, where Ahmed realised the early World Wide Web was the Technological convergence|convergence of media and technology Apple had predicted whilst he worked there. Ahmed recalls, he instantly recognised the commercial potential of the web. after being shown a digital photograph of model Cindy Crawford a friend had downloaded from America[9]. He soon dropped out of the business degree, to start-up digital agency AKQA.[7][10]

Ahmed co-founded AKQA in 1994 at the age of 21 with designer James_Hilton_(designer)|James Hilton, quickly establishing a reputation in the early days of digital brand agencies.[7] At that time, emerging corporate websites were built as ‘wiktionary:brochureware|brochureware’ – static promotional material converted directly from existing printed brochures into a website. Ahmed identified the web as a software platform for interactive marketing campaigns[7] and later pioneered the first mobile platform specialist agency specifically for advertising and marketing.[11] AKQA were the first to create an approved online used-car directory for BMW[9] and the first to create a site which broadcast live radio on the web for Virgin Radio[11]. Twenty years after Ahmed founded AKQA, the agency was awarded The Queen's Award for Enterprise: Innovation 2014, the UK’s most prestigious award for business success.[12][13][14][15]

The name, AKQA, derives from Ajaz Khowaj Quoram Ahmed's initials;[7][4] It does not come from the phrase 'all known questions answered' as originally reported in The New York Times, before correction.[16]

After growing the business through mergers with companies from North America and Singapore[7] AKQA was sold to WPP for $540m[17][18][19] with Ahmed retaining the position of CEO.

Personal Life

Ahmed serves as a trustee on the charitable boards of Virgin Unite, Elton John Aids Foundation, Mental Health Innovations (The Royal Foundation), J.K Rowling's Lumos[20] and Prism The Gift Fund. He is also on the Advisory Board of the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust and is an Enterprise Fellow for The Prince’s Trust.[21] He has authored / co-authored several published books, notably 'Velocity'[22]

Ajaz has appeared in The Sunday Times Power List, the Sunday Times Rich List and the Top 100 E Millionaires[23] and was added to Debrett's list of the 500 most influential people in the UK in 2017.[24]

Ahmed was appointed Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2018 Birthday Honours for services to Media[25]. In his acceptance speech, Ahmed declared that being a father was the best position he'd ever been granted - words later quoted by Sir Richard Branson[26]

External links


  1. 1.0 1.1 Dua, Tanya (15 March 2017). "Starting out with AKQA's Ajaz Ahmed: 'It's important to embrace disruption'". Digiday. Retrieved 10 May 2020.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Ahmed, Ajaz (2015). Limitless: Leadership that Endures. Random House. ISBN 978-0091955045.
  3. "Debrett's 500 List: Advertising, Marketing & PR". The Telegraph. 20 January 2017. Retrieved 31 August 2020.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Spanier, Gideon (21 June 2012). "'Let's celebrate success of UK entrepreneurs,' says Ajaz Ahmed". Evening Standard. Retrieved 10 May 2020.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Smith, Edwin (21 July 2012). "AKQA founder, Ajaz Ahmed: I have a duty now to WPP and Sir Martin". The Telegraph. Retrieved 23 August 2020.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Rosier, Ben (10 June 1999). "PROFILE: Web wonder - Ajaz Ahmed Co-founder AKQA". campaignlive.co.uk. Retrieved 27 August 2020.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 Lee, Matthew (April 2012). "Executive Insight: Ajaz Ahmed". Think With Google. Retrieved 10 May 2020.
  8. "Media top 100 2007". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 May 2020.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Matthews, Dan (25 April 2010). The New Rules of Business: Leading Entrepreneurs Reveal Their Secrets for Success (23 ed.). Harriman House. ISBN 9781906659165. Retrieved 11 September 2020.
  10. Rogers, Bruce (23 October 2015). "AKQA's Ajaz Ahmed's 'Limitless' Perspective On Business And Life". Forbes. Retrieved 10 May 2020.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Springer, Paul; Carson, Mel (3 October 2012). Pioneers of Digital: Success Stories from Leaders in Advertising, Marketing. Kogan Page. p. 129. ISBN 9780749466053. Retrieved 11 September 2020.
  12. Kings, Hannah (21 April 2014). "Recognition for businesses that form 'backbone of our economy'". The Telegraph. Retrieved 11 September 2020.
  13. "AKQA Wins The Queen's Award for Enterprise Innovation: Agency's achievements to be recognised by HM The Queen at a Buckingham Palace reception". LBBOnline. Little Black Book. Retrieved 11 September 2020.
  14. "2014 Winners of the Queen's Awards for Enterprise: Press book" (PDF). The Gazette: Official Public Record. The London Gazette. 8 March 2014. Retrieved 11 September 2020.
  15. "THE QUEEN'S AWARDS FOR ENTERPRISE 2014". London Gazette (60844). 22 April 2014. ISBN 9780116858443. Retrieved 11 September 2020.
  16. Elliott, Stuart (5 March 2013). "San Francisco's Thriving Agency Start-Up Scene". The New York Times. Section B, Page 7. Retrieved 13 June 2020. Correction: March 19, 2013 The Advertising column on March 5, about the agency start-up scene in San Francisco, described incorrectly the derivation of the offbeat name of a local agency, AKQA. The name is derived from the initials of Ajaz Khowaj Quoram Ahmed, chief executive of AKQA; it does not come from the phrase "All known questions answered."{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: location (link)
  17. Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson; Emily Steel; Tim Bradshaw (20 June 2012). "WPP to buy digital agency AKQA for $540m". Financial Times. Retrieved 12 May 2020.
  18. "WPP Acquires AKQA to Beef Up Digital Marketing". The New York Times. 20 June 2012. Retrieved 12 July 2012.
  19. "WPP buys majority stake in AKQA". The Guardian. 20 June 2012. Retrieved 12 July 2012.
  20. "Lumos Board of Trustees". Lumos. Retrieved 11 May 2020.
  21. "Space for Ideas". Appear Here. Retrieved 10 May 2020.
  22. Vince, James. "VELOCITY BY AJAZ AHMED & STEFAN OLANDER". medium.com. Retrieved 23 August 2020.
  23. "Ajaz Ahmed, Akqa Ltd: Profile and Biography - Bloomberg Markets". Bloomberg.com. Bloomberg. Retrieved 14 May 2020.
  24. Oakes, Omar. "Debrett's adds Ahmed, McEttrick and Valoti to 'most influential' list". Campaign Live. Retrieved 14 May 2020.
  25. "Ajaz AHMED". The London Gazette. The Gazette is published by TSO (The Stationery Office) under the superintendence of Her Majesty's Stationery Office (HMSO), part of The National Archives (62310). 8 June 2018. 3041750. Retrieved 14 May 2020.
  26. Branson, Richard. "The best position I've ever had". Virgin.com. Retrieved 14 May 2020.

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