Editorial

Zeti Akhtar Aziz receives the William “Bill” Seidman Award for Lifetime Achievement in Leadership in the Financial Services Industry for 2018

By The Asian Banker

Under Zeti Akhtar Aziz’s leadership, Bank Negara Malaysia has reinforced itself as an independent and respected regulatory authority, putting in place significant measures to ensure the stability of the country’s financial institutions. Her achievements have set a high-water mark for all leaders who will be put in a similar position of trust around the world.

  • Zeti Akhtar Aziz is one of the most highly regarded and respected bank regulators to hail from Asia
  • She was the first woman to serve as the central bank governor of her country
  • Dr. Zeti demonstrated wisdom and fortitude in defending the institution of the central bank as a pillar of a promising economy

Former governor of Bank Negara Malaysia, Zeti Akhtar Aziz, was awarded the William “Bill” Seidman Award for Lifetime Achievement in Leadership in the Financial Services Industry for 2018, at The Asian Banker Future of Finance Summit 2018 at Aman Summer Palace on 23rd May 2018. The guest of honour at the Leadership Achievement Awards Ceremony and Dinner was Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, and was attended by about 100 top banking and financial industry executives from across Asia Pacific, the Middle East and Africa.

Dr. Zeti Akhtar Aziz is recognised by the Council of Advisors of The Asian Banker Leadership Achievement Award Programme for her lifetime achievements and contributions to shaping Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) into an independent and respected regulatory authority and the development of the financial services industry in Malaysia.

She is one of the most highly regarded and respected bank regulators to hail from Asia. She was the first woman to serve as the central bank governor of her country and is the second longest serving, a position which she held for 16 years from 2000 until her retirement in 2016.

Her strong economics background helped her in guiding the macroeconomic policy of her country to benefit from its potential as a robust and sustainable fast developing country. She showed wisdom and a deep sense of understanding of both the economy and the way in which it was tied to the world.

She received her PhD from the University of Pennsylvania in monetary and international economics in 1978 She began her career as an economic analyst for the South-East Asia Central Bank Training & Research Center, from 1979 to 1984. She was then appointed deputy manager of the economics department at Bank Negara Malaysia before she assumed the governor position in 2000.

She was appointed at BNM a time when the country itself had made a decision to impose currency controls to be shielded from the devastating effects of a global capital flows that went awry and caused the Asian financial crisis of 1997.

When the Malaysian leadership decided to impose currency controls, it went against what had become conventional wisdom in its time. The IMF and a host of leading nations thought that it was a regressive step. The decision also caused cracks in the Malaysian polity, that took many years to resolve.

Dr Zeti was part of the team that guided the country through the process, while maintaining its sense of responsibility to international investors and maintaining Malaysia’s status as one of the top 20 trading nations of the world.

As governor, she put in place measures to ensure its financial institutions are sound and run by competent managers who take their guidance from you in having installed prudent and strong risk management practices and an ability to grow the institutions in a sustainable manner. She is also the chairman of the Asian Institute of Finance and, in 2011, she was one of one of the key nominees to head the prestigious International Monetary Fund after the position became vacant following the resignation of the incumbent.

In her final tenure as governor, Dr. Zeti demonstrated wisdom and fortitude in defending the institution of the central bank as a pillar of a promising economy. So well regarded and highly respected is she as a fiercely independent and deeply experienced policy maker that she was recently appointed as a member in the Council of Elders. She will serve as advisor on economic and financial matters to the new coalition government that won a surprising victory in the 2018 general elections during the transition period.

Her achievements have set a high-water mark for all leaders who will be put in a similar position of trust around the world.


Gordian Gaeta, International Resource Director, The Asian Banker; Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web and founder of the Open Data Institute; Zeti Akhtar Aziz, former governor, Bank Negara Malaysia; Paul Chow, former chief Executive of Hong Kong Exchange and member of The Asian Banker Leadership Achievement Advisory Council; Emmanuel Daniel, chairman, The Asian Banker; and Foo Boon Ping, Managing Editor, The Asian Banker

The William “Bill” Seidman Award for Lifetime Achievement is Leadership in the Financial Services Industry is presented in memory of Bill Seidman, the chairman of the US Federal Depository Insurance Corporation from 1985-1991. He was also the founding chairman of the Resolution Trust Corporation of the US. Mr Seidman was a regular guest at The Asian Banker Summit since 2001. He was a member of the advisory council that selects the winners for the Leadership Awards. The Asian Banker inaugurated this award in 2010 with the blessings of his family.

The William “Bill” Seidman Awards for Lifetime Leadership Achievement in the Financial Service Industry recognises individuals who reshaped not only the institutions that they worked for, but the entire financial services industry in their respective countries and regions, The Asian Banker seeks to recognise people who are considered giants in the industry because of their lifetime contributions and leadership. This is the most prestigious of the achievement awards, as it recognises those who have distinguished their reputations, skills and achievements over a lifetime, setting the benchmark from which others are assessed. Lifetime leadership winners recognised in the past have made considerable contributions to the building of institutions that have gone from strength to strength, and in some cases have created an entire industry in their respective countries.

Visit the Leadership Achievement Awards website

View the photo gallery of the Leadership Achievement Awards 2018



Keywords: Leadership, Regulation
Institution: Bank Negara Malaysia
Country: Malaysia
Region: Southeast Asia
Guest: Zeti Akhtar Aziz
Event: Leadership Achievement Awards 2018
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