Jim relocated to this booming city in 2001 to manage the privatization of Mongolia’s two largest banks, the Trade and Development Bank and Khan Bank. He also served pro bono as Chief Operating Officer of NAMBC-Mongolia from 2003 until he helped in the formation of the Business Council of Mongolia (BCM). Today, he is Executive Director of this organisation which boasts 29 talented board members and over 100 volunteers in 6 working groups. BCM is of course, the leading business group in the country whose mission is to foster and promote trade and business relationships and to act as an advocate for its 230 member entities. BCM also works hard to reform Mongolian laws, policies and practices which can inhibit economic growth.
That’s the formal bit about Jim Dwyer done with. Few people however, know that Jim is the eldest of six kids and a”good Irish Catholic boy” from Erie, Pennsylvania. Jim’s father was a judge and three of his siblings are lawyers, but surprisingly and luckily for the Mongolian business community, Jim’s dad had some foresight and advised his eldest son against a career in the law. The thriving business and mining community in Mongolia can be thankful for that.
Jim and I meet at the Kempinski Hotel where he is an official guest at the Luxemburg National Day celebration. We’re both from the same area in the US and seem to have a lot in common. I learn that after combining literature and business as an undergraduate, Jim later found his niche at Columbia Business School where he completed his MBA. Afterwards he wound up as a mergers and acquisitions specialist in New York City, far away from Mongolia which would later become his permanent home.”My family and I will probably live in Mongolia forever,” he tells me proudly.
I ask what sorts of businesses he sees developing in Ulaanbaatar over the next five years and it’s no surprise that “mining and mining services will be the key, as well as the development of other sectors such as infrastructure, property, tourism, agriculture and financial services.”
We talk more about what the future holds and when I ask Jim where he sees UB in twenty years he envisages, “luscious green hills surrounding the city, new apartments, no ger camps, clean air – of course this could all happen in ten years.” I picture this and get a slight tingle up my spine – mostly because I believe him and hope I’m around to witness it all. Jim is optimistic and his charm in infectious. It’s no wonder he’s so good at what he does.
Elisabeth Ellis, Managing Partner at Minter Ellison in UB says,“For a new company entering the Mongolian market, an introduction to Jim is invaluable – it is an introduction to everyone and everything that you need to know when you are starting out.”
Q&A Time with Jim
-What is the best thing about living in Mongolia?
-The best thing about living here is being able to have a meaningful role in the birth of a democratic, free market economy amid Mongolia’s greatest asset, its people.
-How has UB Changed since you first arrived here?
-In a word – rapidly. Mining, traffic, new restaurants, pollution, luxury real estate.
-Describe a perfect weekend in Mongolia
-Having meals with friends – good conversation and good wine with interesting people.
-What’s your advice to UB newcomers?
-Meet Mongolians, see Mongolia and if you have a company or are working for a company, join the BCM.
-Is there anything you can’t live without in UB?
-The Internet, CNN, Bloomberg and the New York Times – I like keeping up with what is happening in the world.
-Have you managed to learn any Mongolian?
-Yes, I had a tutor for two years, but now really just the slang.
-What are your favourite UB restaurants?
-Veranda, Rosewood, Los Bandidosand Sakura.
-What’s your favourite pastime or something you do to relax?
-Beach time and reading on the kindle. I also like to play golf when I can.
-What music do you listen to when you are stuck in UB traffic?
-The Eagles, Elton John, Whitney Houston, John Legend, Aretha Franklin and Ray Charles.
-Who inspires you?
-Bono and Warren Buffet.
-Do you have a favourite quote or Motto to live by?
-Name five people you would like to have dinner with
-Bono, Warren Buffet, George Bush Senior, Bill Clinton and Charlie Rose.