The determination and fortitude in achieving the best in any undertaking characterises the affable and cheerful Dr Anthony Dass. Having experienced different facets of life from the humble origins of an estate boy from Kluang to heading the research section of a leading bank, Dr Dass has come far in life. The self-motivation and indomitable desire for achievement have been a sure-fire path to success. The involvement in a myriad of economic programmes has broadened experiences and sharpened his skills as an economist. In recognition of his services as a leading economist, Dr Dass was recently honoured with an award, Asia’s Leading Economist, during the recent Top Asia Corporate Ball event in Jakarta, Indonesia. In a conversation with Top 10 of Malaysia, Dr Dass spoke about his life’s tribulations and successes as an economist, and his desire to help people succeed in life.
Going with the flow and simultaneously working hard to achieve goals is Dr Anthony Dass’ motto in life. An affable personality who believes in doing the best describes the life-long career path and personal life of Dr Dass. A Johorian from Kluang, Dr Dass spent his early years in the estates before coming to Kuala Lumpur to further his studies. Speaking of his childhood days, Dr Dass nonchalantly reminisces, “I grew up in a Kluang oil palm estate where my father worked his whole life before retiring as the chief clerk.”
Life in the estates was undoubtedly challenging, Dr Dass recollects, “It is nothing short of tough but the environment has taught me a lot about adversity and survival. The whole family that is my parents, three siblings and myself worked hard. My elder sister had to support the family on leaving school and that was tough.” The fact that three out of four siblings, Dr Dass included, are university graduates with successful careers certainly speak volumes about the study-hard-work-hard mantra they had embraced. As for role-models and mentors, the family, especially Dr Dass’ father had been a great influence in both his education and career options.
Education-wise, Dr Dass found himself to be the only Indian amongst a group of six other non-Malays from the pioneer batch of 1983 at International Islamic University Malaysia (UIA). “After completing my high school education at Kluang High School, coming to urban Kuala Lumpur and attending UIA for an economics degree was a new experience for me, culturally speaking,” says Dr Dass. “The educational experience at UIA was good. We had to study Arabic all four years and that taught us to persevere in overcoming challenges other than the plus of knowing Arabic.”
Subsequent to graduating from UIA, the first career stint with Bank Negara was an eye-opener into the world of economics and banking in real life. “I learnt a lot working with Bank Negara, as the environment provided me with the required experience and knowledge of the banking sector and the Malaysian economy,” says Dr Dass. “I did my masters in the United Kingdom under the sponsorship of Bank Negara and received my doctorate in economics from Universiti Utara Malaysia in 2018.”
Career-wise it has been a smooth journey of moving up the ladder before moving to the private sector at AmBank. “I take my career progress in stride. I normally work based on short-term goals and so far the results speak for themselves,” says Dr Dass.
A people-oriented personality, Dr Dass firmly believes that all staff from the cleaning lady to the top brass deserve to be given respect. “Teamwork and consensus decision-making are important factors in achieving goals.” On the economic side, the business environment and macroeconomics are important areas of research. “We look at the big picture of things that will propel the Malaysian economy further in terms of investment,” says Dr Dass.
As the work demands are high, combined with a two-hour drive home due to the traffic jam, there is limited time for the family during work days. However, weekends are for the family consisting of two daughters and wife who is a teacher. Both daughters have succeeded in their professional fields of accounting and medicine. The motivation and guidance from both parents have worked in their favour towards achieving career success. Dr Dass’ main hobby is gardening and so the weekends are devoted to the garden.
The receiving of the Top 10 of Asia’s Leading Economist Award has been a pleasant surprise for Dr Dass. “I feel deeply honoured to receive this award as a recognition for my services as an economist,” he says. The award signifies the dedication he has put into pursuing his passion in life. “There are people who are not trained in economics but turn out to be brilliant economists. Regardless of whatever field you are trained in and if your passion is to work in the financial sector or to be an economist then full dedication is a recipe for success,” advises Dr Dass.
As for the future, the direction is toward helping people succeed in the education field and in life. “After a certain point beyond one’s successes in life, monetary rewards are no longer one’s focus, but instead, giving back to society becomes a passion,” says Dr Dass with an unmistakable sense of fulfilment in his voice.