Honorary Consul General People’s Republic of Bangladesh
Q: First, tell us about yourself and walk us through your background.
A: I am remarkably proud that I was born in a small town in Western North Carolina and grew up in the Appalachian Region of America. I can directly attribute my mother & father, my family and the community that raised me for formulating what I call my fundamental values of the person that I am today. These fundamental values consist of: using common sense, having a never ending commitment to knowledge, understanding the human condition, lending a hand to my neighbors, protecting democracies, practicing kindness, experiencing the joy of giving back, knowing that great effort leads to great prosperity and my faith in God. I rely on those values daily. Although Houston is where I made my home, Appalachia will always remain in my heart.
Through my convictions and willingness of not being afraid to fail, I am founder and shareholder of businesses in the Real Estate, Energy Services, Financial Services, Agriculture, Manufacturing and Healthcare sectors. Independently, McVey & Associates (MA) provides strategic advisory services to clients within these and other related industries. MA advises clients on: mergers & acquisitions, risk analysis, development & growth, business strategy & execution, decision maker selection, due diligence, industry strategy, high impact negotiations, exit planning, turn around management, valuation matters, private offerings, maximizing productivity, organization structure and buyout transactions around the globe.
After earning a Bachelor and Master of Business Administration with concentration in Management from American University, I continued and received a Global Master of Business Administration from Georgetown University as well as a Máster Universitario en Administración Empresas from Esade University in Spain. I find great value in being a lifelong learner and developing skills through knowledge and practice.
The most important basis of gaining knowledge, is sharing knowledge with others. As a tried-and-true believer in the sharing and transferring of knowledge that I’ve been given and acquired to those seeking insight. Others can build upon the experiences. I am humbled when asked to guest lecture at colleges and universities. Some of those include Texas A&M University, University of Missouri, University of Louisiana, University of St. Thomas, University of North Carolina, University of Montana, University of Houston, and I have the privilege to be an Adjunct Professor at Tan Tao University School of Business in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
In 2011, I was honored to be appointed by President Barack Obama to serve as a Director of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Board for International Food and Agricultural Development [BIFAD]. My responsibilities with the agency included providing guidance to the federal government on investments in training, research, and technology transfer to developing countries. I was particularly grateful to serve as Chairman for the Haitian Reconstruction Task Force and Chairman of the Budget Committee. In this capacity, I was fortunate to participate in the Global Food Security Strategy along with the Feed the Future initiatives. As a result, I spent a considerable amount of time in Bangladesh, and the South Asia region, during my tenure. In 2015, I resigned from the USAID post to participate in the election for Mayor of Houston, Texas.
Civic engagement and giving back to the community is important to me. Being a supporter of charitable organizations like Halo House Foundation, Human Rights Watch and the Tahirih Justice Center has been a joy for me. Being a committee member on the Bush-Clinton Ike Coastal Recovery Fund and past Chairman of the Political Engagement Committee at the Greater Houston Partnership has been an honor for me.
In 2019, I was grateful to be appointed by the Government of Bangladesh, and accredited by the United States Department of State, as Honorary Consul General for the People’s Republic of Bangladesh for Texas.
Q: What does a Consul General in your capacity do?
A: A lot more than your non-diplomat readers may realize. I’m here to build on existing relations and maintain those strong strategic, diplomatic, and economic ties between the United States and Bangladesh. A function of great importance to both countries. Promotion of trade between the two nations is in both nation’s interest and it is something that I will be focusing more on post covid-19 world. Additional duties include making official public appearances, working with cultural and humanitarian organizations, being a government liaison and point of contact, and other customary consular activities.
Q: What are some past, present and future goals for Bangladesh’s relationship with the U.S.?
A: I think it’s best to start with the present first. Labor markets worldwide were impacted by government shutdown polices in response to the global pandemic so it is my opinion that the data from 2020 and into 2021 is an anomaly that can be studied but not the norm. According to a previous ILO (International Labour Organization) Global Wage Report that I believe to be a better indicator, it noted that:
Bangladesh’s gender wage gap is the lowest in the world at 2.2% against global average of 21.2%;
Bangladesh ranks 5th globally in political empowerment of women, 2nd in Asia in overall empowerment.
Bangladesh is the 4th largest producer of rice;
Bangladesh is the 5th largest producer of sweet water fish, and the 3rd largest producer of main stable vegetables.
It is also important to look at other sources of data to get the larger picture here. For example, the IMF (International Monetary Fund) reports that Bangladesh ranks 34th among 74 Emerging Economies regarding inclusive economic growth. Other pre-pandemic economic data collection like the one conducted by ADB (Asian Development Bank) mentions that Bangladesh has the highest GDP growth in the Asia-Pacific Region or that HSBC (Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation) mentions that Bangladesh will be the 26th largest economy and will be among the three fastest growing economies of the world by 2030.
As a result, international investors do not need a crystal ball to see that given the fact that in 2019 Bangladesh was ranked the world’s 7th fastest growing economy with a rate of 8.3% real GDP annual growth, there is significant economic opportunity in Bangladesh beyond the garment industry and historic exports. The garment industry is doing very well, and all indicators show that this industry will continue to prosper. It is self-evident that there are expanded economic opportunities in the energy, agri-sciences, fisheries, information technology, economic development zones, shipping, manufacturing, steel, pharmaceuticals, food processing, ship building, telecommunications, and infrastructure industries. Bangladesh is a frontier market and is open for business. The fast economic growth builds upon the strong foundational ties between the United States and Bangladesh that result in a strategic partnership in South Asia.
In the past, solid groundwork was laid for the present growth. The future is that we are witnessing the beginning of a fiscal boom.
Q: Tell us about your perspective on ways that U.S.-Bangladesh cooperation may be furthered.
A: As I previously stated, building on the existing diplomatic and economic foundations are key. Less than a month ago, Bangladesh Ambassador to the United States, His Excellency M Shahidul Islam, visited Houston and other places in Texas. These official visits are important to economic growth, relationship building and promoting cultural understanding across the borders. Just one example of the result of the visit, I have begun working to strengthen the ties between the Port of Houston and the Port of Chittagong and I have identified trade opportunities within the Houston region that would benefit from the increased relations in information & technology transfers between the two ports. It is my hope to begin an initiative to create a Sister City relationship between Houston and Chittagong. A Sister City relationship makes sense for many reasons other than the substantial cargo that departs from Chittagong and arrives in Houston.
Q: How will the Bangladesh business community position itself to help Americans who are interested in doing business in Bangladesh?
A: First, Bangladesh is open for business and any Texan or Texas enterprise interested in expansion and doing business in Bangladesh should contact the Houston Consulate General for information and support in getting to the right people to further that interest. As you are aware, Bangladeshi Americans are increasingly relocating from other US states to the State of Texas for the economic, social, and quality of life benefits that Texas offers its citizens. With those relocations, American Citizens, born in Bangladesh, bring value to Texas in the fields of medicine, engineering, shipping & trade, and abundant community services. Bangladeshi Americans have a track record of being helpful to other Americans interested in doing business in Bangladesh by helping to navigate cultural norms. I predict this practice to continue and grow.
Q: The word on the street is you may be thinking about running for Mayor of Houston or another public office, any truth in that?
A: I do not know what fate holds for me, but right now I am focused my private ventures and on promoting the diplomatic, economic, and strategic relationship between the United States and the People’s Republic of Bangladesh.