From ‘Financial Rudder’ to Vice President

By Lauren Anderson

BoedionoWharton is most often associated with leaders in business. Yet many Wharton alumni are also distinguished public servants—holding such positions as prime minister, president, Chief U.S. Supreme Court Justice, ambassador, finance minister, presidential cabinet member and U.S. Senator. And now, vice president.

On July 8, Indonesia, the world’s fourth most-populous country, went to the polls to elect Wharton Ph.D. alumnus Boediono as vice president, and to re-elect incumbent President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. After capturing more than 60 percent of the vote, Yudhoyono (often referred to as “SBY”) and Boediono, GrW’79, were set to take office on Oct. 20 with a powerful mandate. Their 73.8 million votes enabled the SBY-Boediono ticket to set a new record for the greatest number of direct votes ever cast in any democratic election.

An internationally known economist and a member of Wharton’s Executive Board for Asia, Boediono has held virtually all of Indonesia’s significant economic
posts, including central bank deputy governor in 1997 and State Minister of National Planning and Development in 1998. In 2005, SBY appointed him Coordinating Minister for the Economy, a job he left in 2008 to become Governor of Bank Indonesia, the country’s central bank.

Boediono is perhaps best known for his talent for governing in light of fiscal distress. As Minister of Finance under former President Megawati Sukarnoputri during 2001-2004, he was widely credited with steering Indonesia’s economy back from the brink of disaster following the Asian financial crisis of 1997-98. His performance prompted his 2007 profile in Wharton Alumni Magazine’s anniversary issue, 125 Influential People and Ideas, in which he was described as “Indonesia’s financial rudder.”

In the past year at Bank Indonesia, he faced another economic downturn—this one of global proportions. He carefully guided the bank through the worldwide economic turmoil. In fact, despite the global recession, Indonesia’s economy continues to expand, with an anticipated GDP growth rate of 4 percent this year.

Boediono’s impressive economic record, technocratic skill, reputation for integrity, and ability to work across parties will likely serve him well in his newest role. In announcing his appointment, SBY applauded Boediono as “honest, modest, consistent and tolerant.” “He can assist me in weathering the economic crisis,” the President said. “He is able to build a government that is clean, responsive and free of corruption.”

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