Browse by year:
Dass Banking to Trading
Rahul Chandran
Friday, February 28, 2003
FOR A LINGUISTICS STUDENT FROM JAWAHARLAL Nehru University's class of 1975, Ghanshyam Dass, Director South Asia, NASDAQ, has come a long way. Hailing from a family of civil servants, the early inclination would have been a career in the military or the Indian Administrative Services. Almost a quarter century later, Dass ended up as the Director South Asia, for the world's premier tech index.

Dass’ hearty hail buddy well met demeanor hides a razor sharp mind for the world of international finance. And that was what brought him to NASDAQ's attention when it was looking for a person to head its South Asia operations.

“For NASDAQ’s representative in India, we wanted someone who not only had rich international experience but was also familiar with the Indian economy. Dass fits the requirement perfectly,” Patrick Sutch, NASDAQ vice president, Asia-Pacific said at the time of Dass’ appointment.

But as a youngster, Dass' heart was set on banking. “Around 1969, I was casting about for a major and the Indian Economy and Planning course offered by Delhi University looked really promising.” And thus started Dass’ baptism in Banking. “At Delhi University, I picked up the rudiments of Economic theory and analysis, Micro and Macro Economic Analysis, Project Evaluation and Input Output Analysis, Public Finance and Banking, and International Trade & Finance.” What began as an amateur's interest in the nuances of the world’s merchant banking system led him on to a career that spanned 25 years.

Dass points out some obvious parallels between banking and working the stock markets. “Both require an element of social responsibility. At the various banks I have worked at, my responsibility is towards customers who hold accounts in the banks. At NASDAQ, my job is to safeguard the interests of both retail investors as well as companies that list on our exchange.”

“Right from childhood, the accent at home was on earning my keep. I started earning as a teacher in private tutorial colleges when I was 16,” Dass reminisces. Before he could embark on his career though, Dass had to equip himself with a postgraduate degree. And to the surprise of his well wishers, Dass chose Linguistics. Jawaharlal Nehru University was then (as it is now) a hotbed of the best talent from around India. The college was reputed for its excellent humanities courses, especially economics and finance, but Dass' choice of Linguistics was not without reason. “Masters in linguistics was an interdisciplinary course which gave me some models for understanding Sociology and Psychology. What I learned at JNU was applicable in every field of work and to that extent, it has benefited me at NASDAQ,” Dass says.

Dass’ aim, then, was simple: to reach the top management position with challenging responsibilities and to strategically develop core businesses.

Dass started off on his career in the cash department of Bank of India, Mumbai. He was 25. After a three-year stint at Bank of India where he worked through “almost every department, ranging from trade Services to foreign exchange, Retail Banking and deposit mobilization,” Dass got his first big lucky break: Wells Fargo Bank N.A.

As an assistant representative for India, Dass administered marketing efforts in India and Afghanistan, which were ultimately to prove successful. With a responsibility to generate correspondent banking relationships from major nationalized and private banks, Dass was given the opportunity to develop substantial volumes of Forex and trade related business activities from public and private sector undertakings and also private Banking business for Wells Fargo Overseas.

“Every one needs a little luck once in a while and Wells Fargo gave me the fillip I needed. While working for the bank, I got the opportunity to meet some fascinating bankers and hone my skills.”

Then came HSBC. The Hong Kong and Shangai Banking Corporation was looking for somebody to represent their Financial Institutions Group in South Asia and the Middle East. Dass fit the bill perfectly. At HSBC, Dass represented principal members of the HSBC group including the Marine Midland Bank (USA) and a host of others. "My responsibilities at HSBC included periodic financial reviews of banks and financial institutions, determining limits, monitoring utilization and ensuring optimization of revenues." His vast experience in determining the financial positions of companies and strategizing accordingly would eventually help him at NASDAQ.

Dass is very optimistic about the opportunity for Indian companies in NASDAQ. “In India, there is a humongous need for dollar capital. And NASDAQ, which accounts for nearly 60 percent of all equity trading in the U.S. in dollar terms, listing nearly 5,000 companies, will provide easier access to U.S. capital for Indian IT companies.”

Share on LinkedIn