Like a child on Christmas eve, I could hardly wait to hear my fate after my final interview with the Director of Operations at MIGA. The MIGA Professionals Program (MPP) was exactly what I wanted, a perfect fit of my technical skills and interests, but I was aware that it was a highly competitive process in which hundreds of applicants are whittled down to one offer per department in the end. Thus I cannot exaggerate just how thrilled I was to receive the call offering me the position of Underwriter after a series of interviews. And so began my voyage to the US to start my new job rather enthusiastically.
The MPP is designed to attract new and diverse talent, under the age of 35, to the agency. Recruitment for the next group on MPPs will begin by the end of October 2011. For me, the most attractive element of the program was that MPPs work as full members of their teams and as such there is hardly a distinction between MPPs and regular staff. The program’s eligibility criteria stipulate a minimum of a post-graduate degree and five years work experience. That way recruits are expected to hit the ground running, applying previously gained commercial skills in the development arena as in my case.
As an MPP, I have been exposed to global projects and I have had the opportunity to meet and work with teams across the World Bank’s multiple units. In my first week I sat two seats away from the president of the Bank, Robert Zoellick, as he sat in the cafeteria eating a sandwich. A few days later I attended the farewell party of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, former Managing Director at the Bank who was leaving to take up a ministerial post in Nigeria. The recently appointed Managing Director of the IMF Christine Lagarde was there and I reflected on the weight she has on her new-to-the-job shoulders given the state of the global economy. While they may be economic celebrities to many of us, these are also the people who have the responsibility of getting things right – promoting development and reducing poverty. No small task, and humbling.
It has been a great time to join the the agency following a year that saw $2.1 billion in new investment guarantees (insurance) for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2011; an astonishing 43 percent increase from the previous year! It is an entrepreneurial-based culture and is a remarkable foundation for me to launch a career in development and foreign direct investment. My work as an underwriter is inextricably linked to MIGA’s mission to promote foreign direct investment into developing countries. I am able to apply my skills gained from my former career in investment banking towards helping support economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve people's lives through projects that create jobs, provide electricity, and help countries utilize natural resources in an environmentally sustainable way. I have recently been involved in projects ranging from a transmission line expansion in Brazil to further stabilize the power supply in the country, a hydropower plant in Nicaragua that is forecast to provide 27 percent of the country’s electricity to various high profile projects across Africa.
Confucius’ words capture precisely my experience so far, “Find a job you like and you will never work a day in your life”.