Pushpanathan Sundram



Pushpanathan Sundram (Nathan) is based in Singapore. He has over three decades of experience working in the highest levels of government, international organisations and the private sector. He has a vast stakeholders network covering government, international organisations, think tanks, academia and civil society across emerging Asia. He is sought after as a consultant, resource person and speaker on ASEAN and Asia matters. He assists multinational companies, small and medium enterprises and start-ups in navigating the legal, policy and regulatory space in ASEAN and Asia and addresses their market access barriers. Besides corporate clients, he consults for ASEAN, UN and other international organisations and development agencies.

He was the Deputy Secretary General of ASEAN (Deputy Minister) for the ASEAN Economic Community(AEC) from 2009 to 2011. He also served in several senior positions in the ASEAN Secretariat from 1997-2008, which included Principal Director of the Bureau of Economic Integration and Finance, Director of External Relations and Special Assistant to the Secretary General of ASEAN.

He was instrumental in developing and implementing the first AEC Blueprint and the first Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity. He restructured the economic bureaus in the ASEAN Secretariat to establish an integrated AEC Department to implement the AEC Blueprint effectively. He introduced the concept of integration compliance surveillance. He set up the ASEAN Integration Monitoring Office (AIMO) to undertake surveillance that assists ASEAN members in meeting the targets and timelines set under the AEC Blueprint. He worked with the Secretaries-General of ASEAN to establish the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA) to support the think-thank work needed for ASEAN economic integration and East Asia finance and economic cooperation.

Nathan was at the forefront of conceptualising and implementing the ASEAN+3 and East Asia Summit cooperation and developing the initial framework for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). He also contributed to drafting the ASEAN Charter and the Eminent Persons Group (EPG) reports for the future of ASEAN-China and ASEAN-India relations, respectively.

Nathan transitioned to the private sector in 2012 as the Managing Director of Asia Pacific for EAS Strategic Advice, a leading European public affairs consultancy. He managed several global clients and trade associations while working in EAS. In 2015, he joined Eli Lilly/Elanco as its Director for Market Access, ASEAN. Subsequently, he assumed the Regional Director and Senior Director for Public Policy and Government Affairs – Asia posts until he left the company in September 2019 to set up his own consultancy.

Before his stint in ASEAN, EAS and Eli Lilly/Elanco, he was a Staff Officer with the Ministry of Defence of Singapore from 1989-1995.

Nathan received several awards and commendations in his career. For his work in ASEAN, he was conferred the NUS Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy Outstanding Alumni Award in 2011 and the Sahametrey Medal(Commander Class) from the Government of Cambodia in 2012. He also received in 2013 the PublicAffairsAsia Magazine’s Gold Standard Award for Professional Excellence for his pioneering work in government affairs in emerging Asia.

Nathan now serves as the Chairman of the Food and Agriculture Committee of the US ASEAN Business Council (USABC); Deputy Chairman and Council Member of China-ASEAN Business Alliance (CABA); Board Member of Health for Animals (HfA); Executive Director of Asian Animal Health Association (AAHA); Advisory Board Member of the Global Coalition for Efficient Logistics (GCEL) and; Senior Economic Advisor to Nantong (Jiangsu) and Zhanjiang (Guangdong) Municipal Governments, China.

He received his Ph.D. in Public Policy from the School of Public Policy, Chiang Mai University, Thailand. In addition, he holds a Master’s degree from the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore (NUS) and Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, USA and a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from NUS.

He writes on the issues of ASEAN and Asia in local, regional and international news. In addition, he has authored books and contributed chapters to books related to ASEAN and Asia.