Shaukat Aziz Keynote Speaker

  • Former Prime Minister of Pakistan
  • Former Minister of Finance for Pakistan
  • Former Senior Banker at Citigroup

Shaukat Aziz's Biography

Shaukat Aziz served as Prime Minister of Pakistan between 2004 and 2007, following five years as its Finance Minister and thirty years at Citibank. While in office, he steered one of the biggest economic turnarounds in recent history, taking Pakistan from the brink of bankruptcy. His time in government was marked by high economic growth, exchange rate stability, a reduction in poverty and an upsurge in local and foreign investment. He survived a suicide bombing by Al Qaeda while on the campaign trail, driving him to engage in the fight against global terrorism.

Shaukat Aziz was born in Karachi on 6 March 1949. He received his entire education in Pakistan – first studying at Corks Private School, then St Patrick’s High School, which was run by Catholic missionaries in Karachi, as well as spending a year at boarding school in Abbottabad. He received his bachelor’s degree at Gordon College, Rawalpindi, majoring in physics and chemistry, and later joined the Institute of Business Administration in Karachi to do an MBA.

Apart from a family holiday in Italy as an infant, Aziz did not leave Pakistan until his student days, when he received the first stamp in his passport – for a flight to Afghanistan.

Aziz joined Citibank straight after finishing his MBA and began a 30 year global career. As Executive Vice President, he held several senior management positions in Citibank including being head of institutional banking for Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa and later for Asia Pacific, and finally Chief Executive of Citibank’s Global Wealth Management Business. He worked on the corporate and investment side of the business throughout. One of Aziz’s legacies was spearheading the effort to clean up Citibank’s private bank, a subject he was later invited to share insights on by US Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill at the G20 Finance Ministers’ meeting.

During his time in Citibank, he lived and worked in nine countries – Pakistan, Greece, United States, United Kingdom, Malaysia, Philippines, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Singapore – which provided him with a world view. His career at Citibank also allowed him to interact with global leaders including Margaret Thatcher, George HW Bush, Lee Kuan Yew and Dr Mahathir Mohamad, among others.

Shaukat Aziz left Citibank to join the government as Finance Minister in Pakistan, following a military takeover in 1999. Two years later, 9/11 made Pakistan a vital strategic ally in the War on Terror and Aziz negotiated the vital aid package from the United States.

Aziz carried out broad-based structural reform and negotiated an unprecedented debt relief initiative, helped by the United States and the Paris Club. This eventually helped free the country from its draconian IMF programme and gave it economic sovereignty. Pakistan’s GDP growth rocketed to 7.7% in 2005, averaging 4.9% during Aziz’s time in power, and poverty levels declined from 32.1% in 1999 to 17% in 2007.

He was also recognised for building the first regulatory framework for microfinance in Pakistan, which gave millions of people access to loans for the first time.

His structural reform agenda, based on the principles of liberalization, deregulation and privatization, and his success in rescheduling Pakistan’s debt, allowed Pakistan to exit its IMF programme and gained him international recognition. In 2001 Aziz was named named ‘Finance Minister of the year’ by Euromoney magazine.

While campaigning to be Prime Minister, Aziz survived a suicide bombing by Al Qaeda. His driver died in his arms while they were leaving an election rally in Fateh Jang, a town in Attock, in 29 July 2004. The incident reinforced Aziz’s desire to serve his country.

He was elected Prime Minister on 27 August 2004, and sworn in on the following day.

As Prime Minister, Aziz took a key role in Pakistan’s dealings with Afghanistan, as well as expanding its ties with the United States, China, Russia and the Middle East.

He retained his portfolio as Finance Minister throughout, and continued to steer the country’s structural reform programme and economic revival.

In 2007 Aziz was appointed by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to co-chair a High-level Panel On UN Systemwide Coherence, along with Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg of Norway and Prime Minister Luisa Diogo of Mozambique.

It aimed to bring together serving public figures, as well as former leaders and technical experts, and investigate how all UN agencies and programmes can develop a more efficient approach.

Aziz left office on 16 November 2007, having completed his parliamentary term – becoming the first Prime Minister of Pakistan to do so.

Aziz is a senior visiting research fellow at Green Templeton College, Oxford University, and an Honorary Doctor of Laws at the Institute of Business Administration, University of Karachi, where he had received his MBA. In 2014, Mr. Aziz received an Honorary Doctorate in Business Administration from the East Asia University, Bangkok Thailand.

Aziz is a member of several boards and advisory boards of various commercial and non-profit entities around the world.

He is a frequent speaker on a wide range of global, geopolitical and economic issues.

He is married and has two grown-up children.  His son, Abid Aziz, passed away in 2017.

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