Shamshad Akhtar was appointed by the Secretary-General as Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development at DESA and took office on 9 July 2012.
Ms. Akhtar has previously served as Governor of the Central Bank of Pakistan and recently also as Vice President of the Middle East and North Africa Region of the World Bank. In her capacity as Governor, Ms. Akhtar served as the Chairperson of the Central Bank Board and its affiliates and as Governor of the IMF. During her term, she was recognized for the conduct of the bank, which was restructured significantly, the introduction of an analytical framework for monetary policy, and the development of a ten-year-vision for the finance industry with a vibrant structure for the banking sector. For these accomplishments, she won two consecutive awards as Asia’s Best Central Bank Governor from Emerging Markets and the Banker’s Trust. In 2008, The Asian Wall Street Journal also recognized her as one of the top ten professional women of Asia.
Ms. Akhtar has had a long standing career with the Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs). In her assignment for the World Bank she spearheaded the Bank’s response to the Arab Spring and the Arab regional integration strategy and its implementation. She has served the Asian Development Bank (ADB) for almost 15 years, rising from the ranks as Senior Economist, to attaining the highest professional positions including as Special Senior Advisor to the President of ADB and as the bank’s Director General of the East Asia region. During the Asian Financial crisis she also served as the ADB’s Coordinator to the APEC Finance Minister providing analytical support in a number of economic and social areas for crisis prevention and mitigation, while also leading the engagement with the Bank for International Settlement, and other standard setting bodies.
Ms. Akhtar has worked in several regions/countries dealing with fiscal and taxation policy, decentralization, poverty and inequality, financial and monetary policy, industrial and infrastructure policies and governance development. In the past few months she further served as a member of the Pakistan Economic Advisory Committee and of the Governing Council of Pakistan Statistics Bureau. In addition, Ms. Akhtar advised development agencies on the operationalization of Pakistan’s New Economic Growth Framework and worked on PPP policy frameworks and governance issues.
Ms. Akhtar has earned her post doctorate degree as a US Fullbright Fellow at the University of Harvard and prior, she obtained her PhD in Economics at the Scotland’s Paisley College of Technology and a Master in Development Economics at the University of Sussex in the UK. She also has an MSc in Economics from Quaid-e-Azam University in Islamabad.
Thomas Gass was appointed by the Secretary-General as Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency Affairs in UN DESA and he took office on 3 September 2013. He brings with him wide-ranging experience in bilateral and multilateral development cooperation. From 2009 to 2013, he served as Head of the Mission of Switzerland to Nepal (Ambassador and Country Director of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation), where he established the Embassy of Switzerland in Nepal, and ensured the delivery of a development cooperation programme of up to 33 million dollars a year. He also chaired the Donors of the Nepal Peace Trust Fund, the main instrument for international support to Nepal’s peace process.
Before his posting to Nepal from 2004 to 2009, Mr. Gass was Head of the Economic and Development Section at the Permanent Mission of Switzerland to the UN in New York, where he represented Switzerland’s interests, in particular in the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), its subsidiary Commissions, the General Assembly and the Executive Boards of the major UN Funds and Programmes. During this time, Mr Gass was the Chair of the Donor Group of the UN Global Compact.
In 2006, he was the Vice-President for Western European and Other Group (WEOG) of the Commission on Population and Development, and in 2008 he was the Vice-President (WEOG) of the Executive Board of UNDP/UNFPA. In 2007, he successfully facilitated the landmark TCPR/QCPR Resolution, the periodic review of the General Assembly operational system for development.
Mr. Gass also served as Policy and Programme Officer for the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, as Deputy Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Guyana, and as Regional Director for Europe with the International Plant Genetic Resources Institute in Rome.
Born in 1963, Thomas Gass holds a PhD in natural sciences from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich and a MSc and engineering diploma in agricultural sciences from the same Institute. He is married and father of three adult children.