Wharton School awards Dean’s Medal to BNM governor Zeti


KUALA LUMPUR: Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) governor Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz, who has successfully navigated the Malaysian economy through more than one financial crisis, was awarded the Wharton Dean’s Medal.

The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania said on Friday this was its highest honour, to a Penn alumna who has had a tremendous economic impact on the Asia region and beyond.

In a statement issued in Bangkok, Wharton dean Geoffrey Garrett described Zeti – who received her PhD in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania in 1978 -- as “a leader of amazing accomplishments”. 

He said she had successfully navigated the Malaysian economy through more than one financial crisis.

“She is dedicated to good governance and has been a trailblazer with her widely recognised work in both regional financial integration and internationalisation of Islamic finance. 

“Dr Zeti is an incredible policy maker, central banker, and person, and we are proud
to count her as a friend of the Wharton School. It is an honour to present her with the Dean’s Medal.”

The Dean’s Medal was created in 1983 to recognise outstanding leaders of private enterprise, public service, and academia. 

To recap, the awardees are chosen for their contributions to the enlargement of the global economy and to improvement in the lives of people worldwide. The Dean selects only a very small number of individuals who, through excellence in management, have truly made a difference in the creation of wealth and value, and in the promotion of a peaceful and prosperous world.

Previous recipients of Wharton Dean’s Medal include Lewis E. Platt, Former Chairman and CEO of Hewlett Packard Company in 2000, Geoffery T. Boisi, CEO of JP Morgan Chase and Company in 2003, Alan Greenspan, former Chairman of
US Fed Reserve in 2005, Leonard A. Lauder, Chairman Estee Lauder Companies in 2006, Ronald S. Lauder, Chairman, Clinique Laboratories in 2006, Bong-Suh Lee, Former Minister of Trade and Industry, South Korea in 2010 and Jay H. Baker, Former President and Director of Kohl’s Corporation.

Wharton School said Zeti, who was appointed BNM governor in 2000, has had an important role in successfully managing the economy during the Asian Financial Crisis in the late 1990s and more recently on the effects of the global financial crisis.

During both episodes, a strong rapid recovery was achieved. The policies approach, the financial and economic reforms and the courage to break new ground has drawn significant international attention. 

Additionally, the wide-ranging financial reforms and the development of the financial markets and infrastructure have resulted in a financial sector that is more diversified, sound and resilient to face the challenges of the changing global financial landscape. 

This period also saw several new legislations enacted for the financial sector and the progressive liberalisation of the Malaysian financial system. 

In the Asian region, Zeti has been actively involved in strengthening regional cooperation and financial integration. 

In 2006, she chaired the Executives’ Meeting of East Asia Pacific Central Banks (EMEAP) taskforce that prepared the report for the future direction of central bank financial cooperation in the region which continues until today. 

A founding member of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) Asian Consultative Council, she was also the first co-chair of the Financial Stability Board Regional Consultative Group for Asia. 

Zeti also participates extensively in international forums in many parts of the world including in Asia, Europe, the United States, Latin America, the Middle East and Africa. She also acts as the voice of emerging economies in highlighting their role in the global economy. 

She was a member of the Commission of Experts of the President of the United Nations General Assembly on Reforms of the International Monetary and Financial System in 2009, a high-level task force established to examine reforms to the global financial system. 

She is currently the chair of the BIS Central Bank Governance Group. In the report card on Central Bank Governors by the Global Finance publication, Zeti has received an “A” grade for 11 consecutive years for her pivotal role in economic management and monetary policy.

Zeti has also had an extensive role in the global development of Islamic finance, in particular in the establishment of the Islamic Financial Services Board and International Islamic Liquidity Management Corporation. 

She also headed a taskforce that prepared the report which identified the building blocks that would further strengthen the institutional arrangements for financial stability in the Islamic financial system. 

Zeti also had a significant role in the development of talent in the Islamic financial services industry, including in the establishment of the International Centre for Education in Islamic Finance (INCEIF), the first global university dedicated to Islamic finance. 

In recognition of Zeti’s substantial contribution to the development of Islamic finance, she was awarded the prestigious IDB Prize in Islamic Banking and Finance by the Islamic Development in 2012 and the Lifetime Achievement Award conferred by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum in Dubai in 2015.

For two decades, Zeti has also been involved in the financial inclusion agenda at the national and international level. 

This has involved the development of the enabling environment, the leverage of technology and financial education to achieve more inclusive financial systems and thus the potential for more balanced growth. 

Equally important has been the engagement with international standard setting bodies to avoid the unintended consequences of their standards on this agenda.
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