Emmanuel Nyirinkindi – 10 candid career questions with infrastructure & PPP professionals

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Editor's Note: 
Welcome to the “10 Candid Career Questions” series, introducing you to the infrastructure and PPP professionals who do the deals, analyze the data, and strategize on the next big thing. Each of them followed a different path into infra and/or PPP practice, and this series offers an inside look at their backgrounds, motivations, and choices. Each blogger receives the same 10 questions that tell their career story candidly and without jargon. We hope you will be surprised and inspired.

1. What was your first job? 

My first job was as a kind of glorified librarian – I worked as an intern in Uganda’s National Documentation Center (a part of our national archives) before starting university. I read really old newspapers, filed documents, and earned enough money to buy a pair of sneakers after a full four months of work. My then co-intern, Hon. Dr. Jane Aceng, has moved on to become Uganda’s current Minister of Health!
2. What was your best job? 
My best job? Working with the Ministry of Finance in Uganda. Lots of stress, lots of abuse from different government departments at budget time, and lots of public attention if anything went wrong. But excellent training for life, intellectual and character growth, fantastic development impact, being trusted with national responsibility, a real sense of being at the heart of transformation, and some of the best colleagues I have ever worked with!
3. What do your family members think you do all day at work? 
Over the years, this has changed. My youngest first thought I was a photographer across Africa but changed his mind when he came for a “take your kids to work day.” After watching me for half a morning, he went back home convinced I didn’t do much of anything.
4. What do you really do all day at work?
It often feels like I spend all day responding to emails, talking to colleagues and clients, and going to meetings. But I also feel like a professional student much of the time, and this is something I really enjoy – the continuous learning working in this profession. And I manage to squeeze in enough learning to feel I may actually be doing a few things right that are making a real difference.
5. What do you wish you did all day at work?
Envision, strategize, empower, manage, coordinate, lead, change the world, and deliver real impact – the things they teach you in organizational behavior. I also wish I was more available to staff and clients.
6. What is your go-to industry website? 
IJ Global is my go-to. I read quite a bit of the material developed within the development finance community (particularly the World Bank Group) and by the management consulting firms such as McKinsey, E&Y, PWC, etc.
7. What did the book that made the biggest impact on you professionally teach you?

I loved Mark McCormack’s What They Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School – an old book, but really practical guidance for me when I was wet behind the years. McCormack pointed out that Mario Puzo’s The Godfather was actually full of useful guidance! Even now, still a great read.
8. What are you shocked to hear yourself say when you give advice to young professionals?

“When I was your age….” It seems only a short while ago that I was thinking to myself (upon hearing this from more senior professionals): “Oh, that must have been a long time ago.” Life does come full circle.
9. What is the most rewarding thing you have experienced in the course of PPP practice?

When transactions reach financial close and they deliver on the development goals of our clients. This is especially the case with very challenging projects where we worked really hard with our clients to overcome challenges and rescue some that would otherwise fail.
10. In what ways do you think the PPP area you work in will look different in 10 years?
There will be more transparency to contracts, social infrastructure will take off, disruptive technologies really will disrupt, off-grid solutions will be a very big topic in Africa as will be the need to grow local operators and to do more with local currency. Designing infra PPPs with climate proofing in mind will be another big discussion point in the PPP world. PPP certified practitioners will be very common. 

We look forward to hear from you: Flagging a new World Bank Group consultation on the Guidelines for the Development of a Policy for Managing Unsolicited Proposals in Infrastructure Projects. Submit your feedback here - Now open through May 7, 2017.


Emmanuel Nyirinkindi

Vice President, Cross-Cutting Solutions, IFC

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