Doctoral Candidate, Policy Reform and Economics, UNSW Australia

“The truth is always an abyss. One must dare to dive — like a swimming pool — from the quivering springboard of trivial everyday experience and sink into the depths, in order to later rise again — laughing and fighting for breath — to the now doubly illuminated surface of things.” — Kafka.

Usman W. Chohan is an international economist-academic who contributes actively to the Conversation in both English and French, with the aim of bringing a policy reform expertise on pressing issues of social and economic consequence to a wider audience. In terms of readership, he is among the Top 50 most read academics and Top 10 economists from UNSW on the Conversation. He has written for three regions of the Conversation: Australia, France, and Africa.

Usman's pieces have regularly been chosen as Editor's Picks, and his works on the 'PhD-Barista' and the 'Name-Blind Resume' have been among the most read on the Conversation in 2016. His pieces have also frequently infused themselves into a wider public discourse, as for example when he was interviewed by Waleed Aly et al. on The Project in March, 2016.

“The master-economist must possess a rare combination of gifts .... He must be mathematician, historian, statesman, philosopher—in some degree. He must understand symbols and speak in words. He must contemplate the particular, in terms of the general, and touch abstract and concrete in the same flight of thought. He must study the present in the light of the past for the purposes of the future. No part of man's nature or his institutions must be entirely outside his regard. He must be purposeful and disinterested in a simultaneous mood, as aloof and incorruptible as an artist, yet sometimes as near to earth as a politician.”― John Maynard Keynes.

Usman W. Chohan (b. Manhattan, New York) has previously been a Consultant with the World Bank (Social Accountability, WBI), working on issues of fiscal governance reform, and specifically, the implementation of Independent Legislative Fiscal Institutions (IFIs) to help bring impartial and nonpartisan financial expertise into global governance systems [1].

His work with the World Bank has led him to collaborate with and inform experts around the world, and his ideas have been used to challenge and contextualize the laws underpinning legislative budget institutions in even the strongest democracies [2], such as in Canada, where his work was used to inform the landmark parliamentary debate on amending the Parliamentary Budget Office Act (C-476, 2013).

Prior to this he was the Special Situations Analyst in the Global Equities Team at Natcan Investment Management, the investment arm of the National Bank of Canada. The Global Equities team had six investment professionals including Usman and $3 billion dollars in Assets under Management (AuM).

Usman has an MBA from McGill [3]; he has done Masters coursework at MIT-Tsinghua [4]. He is currently pursuing a PhD in Economics on a full scholarship from UNSW (Australia) [5], where he is creating the world's first multidisciplinary synthesis of Independent Legislative Fiscal Institutions.

Given his rich 'tri-sector experience' that encompasses private sector, public sector and academia [6], Usman enjoys consulting, research, and teaching in equal measure. He delivered the 2015 Foreign Affairs Lecture in the Global Leadership Program (GLP) at Macquarie University in Sydney [7]. He is at present a Global Shaper of the World Economic Forum [8].

Yet his most idiosyncratic aspect may be that Usman is fluent in eight different languages [9], and speaks 5 out of the 7 Official languages of the World Bank. These include English, Mandarin [10], French [11], and Spanish [12], among others.

Given that his last four residences were Montreal, Buenos Aires, Canberra, and Beijing, you will likely find him roaming somewhere between these four coordinates at the ends of the earth.




  • 2015–present
    Global Shaper, World Economic Forum
  • 2013–2014
    Consultant, Parliamentary Strengthening Program, World Bank Institute
  • 2008–2012
    Special Situations Analyst, Global Equities, Natcan Investment Management, National Bank of Canada


    UNSW , Doctoral Candidate, Economics, Fiscal Policy Reform
  • 2014 
    MIT-Tsinghua, Masters MBA Coursework
  • 2014 
    McGill University, Masters in Business Administration - Strategy Specialization
  • 2008 
    Western Ontario, Bachelors Management and Finance


  • 2013
    Canada and the Global Network of Parliamentary Budget Officers, Canadian Parliamentary Review
  • 2013
    Le Canada et le Réseau mondial des directeurs parlementaires du budget, Revue Parlementaire Canadienne
  • 2013
    Fostering a Community of Practice Among Parliamentary Budget Offices of the Commonwealth, The Parliamentarian Journal - Commonwealth Parliamentary Association


Full PhD Scholarship (UNSW, 2015); Global Shaper Canberra (World Economic Forum, 2016); Graduate Award in Governance (World Bank & McGill, 2013); Accelerated Status - MBA Program (McGill, 2013); Two Parliamentary Citations in "Act to Amend Parliament of Canada Act", C-476, (Parliament of Canada 41-1, 2013); MBA Entrance Award (McGill University, 2013); Chief Administrator, Wikipedia Urdu (2005); Speaker, The World Bank Conference on Parliaments & Extractive Industries (2013)

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