A High-Flying Malaysian: Tan Sri Dato’ Dr. Zeti Akhtar Aziz

Tan Sri Dato’ Dr. Zeti Akhtar Aziz is currently the Governor of Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) and has been holding the portfolio since 2000. She is the only woman in Asia to be holding the key position at the moment, and is also one of the very few in the whole world.

Tan Sri Zeti has been serving the Bank for the past 20 years or so, starting in 1985 and has moved around in many various positions and divisions including financial policies, reserve management as well as secretary to the Board.

She is the daughter and the only child of the country’s famous academician, Professor Diraja Tun Ungku Aziz. Once a former Vice Chancellor of Universiti Malaya (UM), Professor Ungku Aziz has been credited with winning ideas that came into implementation by the government.  The impressive blood legacy does not stop there; her grandfather, the late Datuk Jaafar Mohamed was the first Chief Minister of Johor, while UMNO founder the late Datuk Onn Jaafar was her granduncle.

Tan Sri Dato' Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz

2 years before her official appointment as the Governor, Tan Sri Zeti accepted the role as Acting Governor in 1998 and faced one of the most challenging moment of her career, during which the country, together with the whole of Asian region, were facing a notorious economic crisis.

Backed by her superb background in Maths and Finance, a string of daring corporate decisions were made during the tumultuous and flailing economy that eventually steered the country back to its feet. Soon enough, she began to be noticed as a highly capable leader and became one of the most respectable names in the corporate landscape.

Tan Sri Zeti was one of the key figures that were involved in the decision to introduce capital controls and the currency floating—a controversial implementation that raised the eye browses of financial critics and the like. However, many years later, Zeti achieved a status of a hero or some sort when the move was proven to pay off, returning the country into competitiveness faster than any other countries in the region.

Apart from being a high flier in the company, Tan Sri Zeti has also written numerous dissertations and publications on monetary, financial economics, Islamic finance, capital flows, macroeconomic, financial reform, restructuring and so on.

Tan Sri Zeti was schooled at Sekolah Menengah Assunta in PJ and received his tertiary education from Universiti Malaya (UM) in Degree of Economics. Later, she obtained here PhD from the University of Pennsylvania, United States.

In 2003, Euromoney named Dr Zeti as Central Bank Governor of the Year for her role in the reform of the exchange rate, the capital markets and the banking industry. 3 years prior to that that, she was made the list of “the most powerful women in the finance industry” as was released by the international magazine, Global Finance.

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