He attended Hyderabad Public School and the Indian Institute of Technology Madras where he graduated with a degree in chemical engineering. Watsa later moved to London, Ontario and went to the Richard Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario where he earned an Master of Business Administration.
He has been called the "Canadian Warren Buffett."
He is a distinguished alumnus of IIT Madras. After graduating, Watsa worked for the insurance company Confederation Life. In 1984, he started an investment firm with his former boss Tony Hamblin called Hamblin Watsa Investment Counsel.
In 1985, Watsa took over Markel Financial and renamed it Fairfax Financial Holdings.
Watsa helped grow the company, where it reached annual revenues of $8 billion a year in 2012. Despite his success, Watsa largely stayed out of the public eye.
On January 22, 2012, it was reported he was to be appointed to the board of directors of Research In Motion (RIM) in the company"s largest ever corporate shakeup. Watsa resigned in August 2013, but kept his investment in the company.
On September 23, 2013, BlackBerry announced that it had signed a letter of intent to be acquired by Fairfax Financial Holdings in a $4.7 billion deal.
In June 2009, he was appointed as the ninth chancellor of the University of Waterloo.