In 2009, I coined the phrase “Wolf Economy” to describe Mongolia’s rapidly growing economy. It was important for me to differentiate Mongolia from the “Tiger Economies” of southeast Asia because at the end of the day, we are different. We have different resources, infrastructure, and population size. I believe that the wolf better represents our economy because wolves are strong, resilient, and independent.
I always had the goal of building on our Wolf Economy, so in 2009, I got involved in government and politics and worked as an advisor to the Prime Minister. One year later, I became Mongolia’s Vice Minister of Finance.
Throughout my term as Vice Minister of Finance, I successfully organized three Mongolia Economic Forums from 2010 to 2012. These forums brought together the country’s most important business and economic players under one roof. The forums also encouraged a dialogue between the policy makers and private sector.
While I was Vice Minister of Finance, I also served as President of the Mongolian Students Union which included 150,000 members at the time. Some of the initiatives we started while I was president of the students’ union planted the seeds for the government’s student soldier program. As part of the program, students can perform military service during the summer holidays, and that experience will be considered as time served in the army. It is important for young Mongolians to serve their country, and since then, it has become a national law to complete this service.
In the middle of my term in 2011, our economy grew 17.4 percent – the second highest in the world that year. Our economy was at an all-time high. Our enormous growth gained a lot of international exposure and attention, and investors from other countries wanted to do business with us.
As I led Mongolia through this time of great prosperity, I made important strides to grow our Wolf Economy. And most importantly, I always led with my heart. Politics and finance can be tough. But whether you are in business or politics, I believe that success happens when you are a kind, emotionally intelligent leader. I have always believed that kindness isn’t a weakness – it’s a strength, and it’s a courageous quality. If you’re an emotionally intelligent leader, you can always make the biggest impact.
It has also been so rewarding to see the ripple effects of my work as President of the Mongolian Students Union. The introduction of the Student Soldier Program has recently led to a new initiative in Mongolia that is similar to Teach for America. In the summer of 2021, Ard launched a program for university students to serve their country by moving to the countryside and teaching financial education to people who live there. So far, 330 students are registered to travel to 330 remote villages in Mongolia. Students are paid for their service, and it counts as an employment experience. This initiative will help people live comfortably in Mongolia’s less populated areas, and could have a positive impact on bringing new life to rural communities.