AREAS OF EXPERTISE: Asia, the Middle East, International Trade, International Business, Development, and Globalization
Over the course of his 20 year international career, Stephen Olson has lived and worked in Asia, the Middle East, and the United States, holding senior executive positions in the private sector, international organizations, and government.
Most recently, Mr. Olson served as the Vice Chairman for Policy and Business Development at the Cairo-based ARTOC Group for Investment and Development, one of the leading conglomerates in the Middle East. Mr. Olson was a member of ARTOC's Senior Executive Committee, which oversees the development and implementation of individual company business plans. He also developed and negotiated new international trade and business opportunities for ARTOC, especially in Asia, and lead ARTOC's participation in organizations such as the World Economic Forum and the Arab Business Council. He also spear-headed a major corporate re-branding exercise, including a refreshed corporate identity and an extensive television advertising campaign on CNN International.
Prior to ARTOC, Mr. Olson was the President of the Hong Kong-based Pacific Basin Economic Council (PBEC). PBEC is the region's oldest and most prominent business organization, representing more than 1,000 corporations in twenty countries and economies around the Asia Pacific. Mr. Olson worked closely with the PBEC Chairman and the International Board of Directors on the overall strategic vision for the organization, relationship building with members and prospective members, as well as managing the day-to-day operations of PBEC.
At PBEC, Mr. Olson played a lead role in the development of PBEC's policy recommendations on trade and economic issues, which are held in high regard by organizations such as the WTO and APEC. He has authored a number of well-received opinion articles on Asia Pacific business issues, in prominent publications such as the International Herald Tribune, the Bangkok Post, and the South China Morning Post. He also oversaw the planning of PBEC's annual International General Meeting (IGM), regarded by many as the premier business conference in the region.
Mr. Olson's career began in Washington DC as an international trade negotiator. He was a member of the U.S. negotiating team for the North American Free Trade (NAFTA) negotiations, and worked in the Executive Office of the President, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, and the U.S. Department of Commerce. He has also worked as an international trade consultant.
Mr. Olson has given scores of speeches to academic and business organizations throughout the Asia Pacific and has been interviewed on television and radio on international trade and business issues. He has been a guest lecturer at several universities, including the State Department's Foreign Service Institute. He has been accredited by the New York Department of Economic Development as a certified international trade consultant.
Mr. Olson was the recipient of a Certificate of Recognition for outstanding services as a member of the U.S. negotiating team for the Canada free trade negotiations, as well as a Certificate for Sustained Superior Performance during the NAFTA negotiations. He has a Masters Degree in international relations from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. He has also studied at McGill University in Montreal, and has a B.A. from the State University of New York.
Currently, Mr. Olson is based in Southeast Asia as an Adjunct Fellow and Managing Director (Asia) for the Economic Strategy Institute in Washington, DC, on whose behalf he regularly conducts major commissioned research projects on global economic and trade issues. He also serves in a consulting capacity to the Asian Development Bank (ADB), as well as several companies on investment, trade, and business intelligence issues, including Frontier Advisory in South Africa. He regularly leads corporate business missions into various markets in Asia, and conducts training courses on international trade, economics, and development.