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Mongolian herdsman’s thirst for learning brought him to FINSIA’s mentoring programme

by Lewis Panther | 13 Jun 2019
A FINSIA member has told of his epic journey from life as a nomadic Mongolian herdsman to Sydney’s CBD.

Dash Nyamjav has to take two flights and a six-hour car journey home to open plains of to see his parents in the Tuv province.

That it’s only 160km from his local Chinggis Khaan airport tells you how rugged and harsh the landscape is. Growing up in a family of nomads really is a world away from the Sydney’s CBD.


But the determination of the MBA student on the FINSIA mentoring programme to work in financial services is an inspirational story that everyone in the sector should read.

From pushing for a higher standard of education than the basic reading, writing and counting usually available to fellow herders, dealing with bullying while living apart from his family during his studies  and winning a scholarship to WSU and giving a presentation to a rapt audience of bankers from Macquarie, it’s a truly remarkable journey.

The 23-year-old shared his experiences with InFinance just before setting off on the 24-hour trip to visit his parents and seven brothers and sisters at their traditional ger and revealed how he has come so far.

He said: “There’s a quote from someone I have always followed. Where there’s a will, there’s a way."

Mongolia 5“I was born into a family of herdsman, the youngest of eight. But I’ve always wanted to follow my passion, at first through education and then over time I realised I wanted to work in financial services.”

His nomadic upbringing was the first of many significant challenges. Moving several times a year depending on the weather in search of nutritious grass for livestock meant it was, as he says, “very difficult to get a proper education because the herders always look after their livestock and live far from urban areas where education providers are located. 

“Most herders only have primary education including reading, writing and counting.”

Although his elderly parents wanted to make sure Dash - short for Dashdendev - had a better education than theirs, they still needed his help in the countryside.

Mongolia 2So he lived a nomadic way for half of the year and studied in the urban area for the other half of the year until he graduated to higher education. 

Before achieving that milestone, Dash and his family had to overcome huge struggles. He was misdiagnosed with epilepsy and had to be sent to Japan for treatment as neuroscientists said that he would not be able to live a normal life. 

Whlle the real reason was found to be a nervous habit that had affected his speech and caused him to blink, which he was able to deal with once he knew that it wasn’t the potentially-deadly condition, his move to Japan left him with other hurdles to overcome.

Dash added: “I was struggling with my self-confidence as some classmates kept imitating my speech disorder and making fun of me. Even some of the teachers did."

“So the initial years in high school were challenging. Not because of study loads but because of jokes.”

Despite his difficulties, Dash and his family tracked down one of only three speech therapists In Mongolia who helped him overcome his defect. His drive propelled him through school and on to a bachelors course in Taiwan and then work with the biggest publicly-listed business in Mongolia.

He went on: “But I still wanted to achieve more and challenge myself. So I decided to apply to Australian universities. My undergraduate grades were good and I won a scholarship to WSU, which was fantastic."

“But I knew - as soon as I arrived for my orientation day - that I needed to look for job opportunities from day one. That’s why I went to the careers consultant. There isn’t anything specific for financial services, but they put me in touch with FINSIA.”

Dash (1)

Dash joined the same day as he found out he could chose his own mentor as part of his membership, which was his main reason for signing up, and ended up making a presentation about his journey to bankers at Macquarie.

“FINSIA has given me so much, especially as I didn’t have a great deal of experience. My mentor has been amazing. To me, I see FINSIA as a bridge to getting into the financial services industry.” 

Read more about Dash’s journey with his mentor in the next InFinance.


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