From Le Rosey to Boston and L.A, Ayesha is
an aspiring hotelier completing her Masters
at Ecole Hoteliere de Lausanne.
I was born in Orlando Florida, bred in Bangladesh, and am currently based between a few countries in the USA, Europe and Asia. I consider myself very lucky to have had an incredible childhood. Most of my childhood was in Chittagong Bangladesh. We lived in a compound amongst the Batali Hills. Batali housed my home and homes of my uncle’s and aunts from my paternal side. Thus, I was constantly surrounded by my cousins. I remember having massive water fights with my cousins, my aunt used to throw amazing birthday parties for us, I used to play with many of the children of the staff who I still keep in touch with today. My parents had exotic animals such a falcons, peacocks and deers roaming around the compound which turned me into an animal lover. 10 years ago my father and sister rescued a monkey who was too weak to be in the wild and I ended up taking care of our monkey, Modhu. Today Modhu has become my best friend and a big part of my life. Apart from being surrounded by family, friends and lots of animals, one of the biggest pillars in my upbringing would definitely be my late nanny, Mustafa Didi, who raised me for 21 years.
My Family, My Roots
I am the youngest granddaughter of the late Mr. Abul Kasem Khan, best known as A.K. Khan who was a Bangladeshi Lawyer, Industrialist and Politician. He is the founder of one of Bangladesh’s oldest and leading conglomerates, A.K. Khan and Company. My father, A.K. Shamsuddin Khan, along with his siblings, spearhead the company today. My father is an industrialist and businessman, he taught me to always stay connected to my roots and to always be humble. My mother, Fawzia Khan, could be best described as a superwoman. Apart from raising me and my sisters, she is very much into Interior Design, designing all of our spaces in Bangladesh, LA and London. She is an avid golfer and traveler as well. I have two older sisters Samanzar and Sherfehnaz who are currently working for A.K.Khan & company and AKS Khan Company. I wish to join my sisters within the next year to help grow our family business and increase our company’s portfolio.
I left Bangladesh when I was 14. In 2007 I attended Institut Le Rosey, Switzerland’s renowned boarding school, after which I moved to the United States. I lived in Boston during my university years after which I moved to Los Angeles. Currently I am in Switzerland, doing a master’s program. As for now, I do not have a base as I move continents every 3 months. After this Christmas I will be in Hong Kong, followed by Koh Samui and Houston.
Childhood Memories That Shaped Me
There are many instances in my childhood that played a pivotal role into shaping me to be who I am today. As mentioned previously, constantly being surrounded by animals made me a big animal lover and taught me to be compassionate towards every living being. Constantly being surrounded by elders taught me to always be respectful. My parents never really made me realize how lucky I was to have everything they have given me, I always thought I was just like everyone else and everyone is equal, this taught me to always be friendly towards everyone and never feel entitled to anything. I believe this is one of the main reasons why today, I have friends from all walks of life who teach me so much and add value to my life. Thanks to my sisters, I learned not to be selfish and to always share. I used to wear all my sister’s hand me downs and I still continue to raid their closet every once in a while! I truly could not have asked for a better childhood, I take great pride to be brought up in the Hills of Chittagong and being a Bangladeshi. Because of what Bangladesh has given me in my early years, I feel I must one day go back to Bangladesh and give back to my country, to the people and do it for my Family.
Career Aspirations And Goals For The Future
I attended Institut Le Rosey a Swiss boarding school during my high school years. Upon graduating, I obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics and minored in International Affairs in Northeastern University. During my time in Northeastern University, I also worked at Harvard Medical School’s Office of Diversity Inclusion and Community Partnership. I was the program coordinator for their Reflection in Action (RIA) program. RIA supported Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move program that encourage inner city school children to live healthy and maintain an active lifestyle.
After graduation, I slowly began to realize that I was a people’s person with an altruistic personality. I gained happiness in making others happy. When my friends would come over, I would always make sure they were comfortable, that they had everything that they needed. It was then when I realized that hospitality was my calling. I knew I wanted to give people memorable experiences and thus Hotel Management was the right path for me. I then moved to Los Angeles where I worked at Montage Beverly Hills for two and a half years. I decided I wanted to do my masters in Hospitality. I am currently doing a Master of Science in Global Hospitality Business at Ecole Hoteliere de Lausanne in Switzerland. Upon graduation I wish to go back home to Bangladesh and work in the hospitality and tourism industry. Our seaside Cox’s Bazaar has the longest natural beach in the world. Cox’s Bazaar is truly beautiful and there is a lot of potential for our hospitality industry to thrive. It will be a shame if our people are not able to fully enjoy the seaside of our country. Hence I would like to cater to the mass and open economy hotels and resorts in the sea side of our country and hopefully give our people memorable experiences.
Favourite Hotels To Work For
I was very fortunate to have worked at an incredible property in Beverly Hills called The Montage Beverly Hills. I worked in various different departments, starting from Retail, Administrative assistant in the Executive Office, Food and Beverage, Human Resources, Accounting and many more. I ultimately won Montage Masters which was equivalent to being awarded as best employee. This further validated my urge to continue my career in Hospitality. Soon I will also be interning at a property in Koh Samui (unfortunately my NDA agreement does not allow me to name the hotel company). Ultimately in the future instead of working at a hotel, I would love to build/acquire my own hotel or possibly even bring a hospitality franchise to Bangladesh.
Favourite Things To Do
I love music. It is my release and escape. I love discovering new artists, going to concerts, lately I have also been into Ballet. I enjoy everything from Grand Moscow State Classical Ballet’s Romeo and Juliet choreographed by Natalya Kasatkina and Vladimir Vasilyov to a night out attending a Nicolas Jaar concert. When I am home I enjoy spending time with my Monkey and my dogs, trying to understand animal behavior. Singing and Skiing can be added to the list as well. I was trained in Bengali Classical singing from a very early age, followed by signing in the choir and chamber choir of our school. Skiing is my favorite sport, I love taking on the slopes and enjoying mountainous views of the world. I love to paint as well. I used to be an advance level art student during my high school years and I still continue to paint today in my leisure time. I personally love working with acrylics and mixing them with different textures such as gold leaf.
Art, the only thing that is either meant to make you feel super uncomfortable when you look at it, or makes you fall in love with it at first sight. Art to me speaks louder than words. My father is a big art collector back home and when I was a child I couldn’t understand why he kept such crazy paintings in the house, but after growing up I can truly appreciate his taste in art. We have pieces of a very famous Bengali artist called Shahabuddin Ahmed, his work mimics stark realism and I find him to be an icon in the art world. Being a 90’s child I truly love contemporary art. Some of my favorites would include Keith Haring, Jeff Koons, but Jean-Michel Basquiat holds a special place in my heart. I find his work to be very bold.
I would be lying if I could name just one place as my favorite holiday destination. Every city has its own charm and magic. The ancient city of Bagan where Buddhist holy monuments tower over green plains will bring you a great sense of peace and make you feel like an eternal being. It will give you a different feeling from when you are boating in St. Tropez or Mykonos in the summer attending private parties and dinners. Visiting different destinations will only help you explore different parts of yourself. I truly love the world and travelling everywhere. I cannot say a few places are my favorite as all these places make me feel a certain way and bring a different kind of joy.
Style is so personal and I tend to go through phases. My style changes according to my mood, however a common factor would be staying modest and elegant. Less is always more for me! I also love the Thiery Mugler dress. His designs are bold and creative allowing women to walk proudly and powerfully. I adore wearing clothes that make me feel feminine and pretty. A lot of florals, soft colors and pastels tend to win me over. However, at the same time, nothing will ever top the beauty of wearing black.
I am very passionate about animal rights. I am currently donating and petitioning against Yulin Festival, I also donated to an Orangutan conservation foundation for an orangutan named Gito. Gito was found brunt as a baby and he lost his mother in a forest fire. I contributed towards Gito’s recovery process so that one day he will be strong enough to be released back into the wild. In the future I wish to donate my earnings and proceeds towards animal rights. I still feel not enough is being done for the divine beings that we share this planet with.
Food is the ultimate joy of life! Having tried almost all the cuisines, I am still partial towards Bangladeshi / Indian cuisine because of the sheer variety it has. Different parts of the subcontinent have different dishes and therein lies the beauty of the cuisine. In general I do love Asian food and I prefer it to European food. I love spices and herbs, they can make anything taste delicious and makes you crave more of it. In addition it has a lot of health benefits. This is not to say I do not like European cuisine. Some of my favourite dishes include, Pad Kra Pao, Chicken Vindaloo, our homemade recipe of Batali Chicken, Gratin Dauphinoise, etc. My ultimate weakness however would be Movenpick Swiss Chocolate ice-cream. Anyone who knows me, knows how much I love Movenpick Ice-cream. I grew up on that chocolate ice cream and I have a very strong feeling I will grow old
Contribution To Society
In life I truly believe that you have to do what is right for you. Ultimately, life goes on and time is running out. One deserves to live life to the fullest. Sadly not all of us have the opportunity or the means to enjoy life to the fullest. Coming from Bangladesh, I see with my own eyes the unfairness of life. Some people don’t have adequate food or shelter. Therefore it is imperative that we first help those who are in need. Our purpose should be to enjoy life to the fullest only knowing that we have also done our part in making other people’s lives better and continue to do so. Love and Happiness are meant to be shared. Our family recently donated to shelter the Rohingyas who have fled Burma and are currently seeking refuge in Bangladesh. We also support the Leonardo Dicaprio foundation in saving the planet and conserving the wild. This is a cause I am truly passionate about. I want to be the voice for the animals who are being exploited by us humans in the world. I always dreamt to have my own private island where I would be able to conserve all the endangered species in the world! Although it sounds far-fetched I am constantly aspiring to work towards a better planet for the wild.
There are tons of people to admire and look up to because of their achievements and bravery. All the powerful women that exist in the world, which may or may not be as famous as all the celebrities, deserve as much respect for all the work they have done. Women such as Rosa Parks, Michelle Obama, Diana Nyad are such an inspiration to look up to. However, women like my late nanny who truly loved me and took care of me as her own child, showed me what unconditional love is. As cliché as this sounds I truly do look up to my mother. Not only because of her achievements but because of her heart. She has a heart of gold and embodies the epitome of a good human being. She taught me to live life to the fullest and not be afraid to live your true self. I believe there is no greater lesson than that because she is constantly teaching me to never have any regrets. Achieving ultimate happiness would be to look back at life and realize you have done everything you wanted to and there is nothing you would do differently. My mother is a living example of that and I respect her so much for it.