Sohaib Abbasi, CEO of Informatica and a former executive of Oracle Corporation, was born in Lahore, and moved to various cities with his father, an air force official, before reaching the United States in 1974.
He earned a Bachelor's, and later a Master's degree, in computer science from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He joined Oracle in 1982 when it had only 30 employees and the revenue was about four million dollars a year. Abbasi spent 20 years at Oracle Corporation where he was a member of the company’s executive committee and, as Senior Vice President, led two major divisions, Oracle Tools and Oracle Education. When he retired from the company in March 2003, Oracle had more than 42,000 employees and annual revenues of US $9.5 billion.
Abbasi became chief executive of Informatica Corp. in July, 2004 at a time when the data integration software company was struggling financially and with its identity. Abbasi took the helm and refocused the company on a narrower set of products, while evangelizing the broader use of data integration across the enterprise. Under his leadership, Informatica's revenues have jumped from $219 million in fiscal 2004 to $455 million in fiscal 2008. Informatica’s 20 percent growth rate over this period was 2.5 times the average for the software industry. Since Abbasi joined Informatica, the company has won numerous awards.
Since the September 11 attacks an Islamic studies programme and a professorship have been initiated at the prestigious Stanford University, California, with an endowment of US $9 million. A significant aspect of the programme is the generous donation of 2.5 million dollars by the Pakistani couple, Sara and Sohaib Abbasi.
The support provided by the couple for the programme "Sohaib and Sara Abbasi" Programme in Islamic Studies—includes graduate fellowships, research, new library, strengthened language courses at advanced levels and regular public programmes such as lecture series by eminent scholars. At the same time Stanford alumni Lysbeth Warren made a gift of two million dollars for a new professorship on Islam. Both the gifts were matched by the Stanford University with a grant from William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, taking the total amount of endowment for the programme and professorship to nine million dollars.
The Abbasis have also tried to support educational institutions in Pakistan. Abbasi visited Pakistan in the summer of 2003, and met with representatives of all the major academic institutions that have a computer science department. He wanted to find out general statistics like how many students graduate from these institutions, how many graduates get job or are accepted in higher education, how many scholarship they offer, about curriculum, about the cost etc and about the cost associated with the faculty and faculty information. It took him about five months to get this information and it’s still not complete and reliable.
Moreover, the Pakistani institutions or government are not ready to contribute to the cause. At Illinois and Stanford, the money is endowed and will be there forever, and they can hold the universities’ accountable for managing it and that endowment would generate the money to run the fellowship and the programme. Most of the Pakistani institutions do not have the transparency that is required to give them the funds and have them manage it and provide proper reporting.
Mrs. Sara Abbasi is on the executive board of Developments in Literacy (www.dil.org), an international non-profit organization that has built 200 schools in Pakistan since 1997.