Career Paths in International Development at the World Bank Group

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March 26, 2015

Alumni Giridhar Srinivasan '98 and John Anderson '03 led a discussion about the diverse paths they have taken to their careers in international development -- from Wall Street to economic policy -- and shared suggestions for how students can prepare for a career in international development, including opportunities for young professionals at the World Bank Group.

Their talk began with an overview of the World Bank Group's history -- how it began with investments in infrastructure projects in the 1950s, rural projects in the 60s, health & education in the 70s, fiscal reform in the 80s, social issues in the 90s, governance in the 00s and currently much of their focus is on infrastructure and fostering entrepreneurship. They have 16,000 staff members and 160 country offices; they spoke about the extraordinary reach of the organization and the diverse, thoughtful, educated staff. The WBG is a mission-driven institution and their primary mission is ending poverty by investing in financial and private sector development, transportation, energy, water/sanitation/flood protection, health & social areas, education, agriculture/fishing/forestry, finance, industry & trade and information & communication. The WBG is divided into government and private sector development: the IBRD and IDA offer grants focused on low and middle income countries and the IFC and MIGA aim to foster private sector development and loans.

Both speakers said the liberal arts education they received at Swarthmore gave them the fundamental skills they have needed to succeed in the workplace:

- the ability to think across disciplines

- the ability to discuss and defend ideas

- the ability to think critically

- the ability to write and communicate well

- the ability to solve problems

When asked what current students can do to prepare for their future careers, they suggested:

- sample courses in varied disciplines

- use the Swarthmore network; there is an extraordinary amount of loyalty among Swarthmore alumni

- strive to develop emotional intelligence and the ability to work with others in teams, getting feedback on your own personal style

- study abroad and learn a different language

Students and recent grads interested in pursuing opportunities at the World Bank Group can visit their careers site.

About the Panelists:

Giridhar Srinivasan '98 works at the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the debt and equity investment arm of the World Bank Group. He is responsible for developing new investment partnerships and raising capital for IFC’s work in infrastructure. He has over a decade of investment experience, across both developed and emerging markets. He manages several key client relationships for IFC. Previously, he was on the investment team at IFC InfraVentures, an early-stage infrastructure fund. His responsibilities included making new investments, developing greenfield projects and developing the fund’s overall strategy. Before joining IFC, he was a founding member of Lehman Brothers Infrastructure Fund, and was an investment banker in Rothschild’s Global Infrastructure M&A team. Earlier in his career, he worked at Katzenbach Partners, a management consulting firm based in New York.  He received his BA with Honors in Economics from Swarthmore College, and an MBA from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. While at Swarthmore, he served in AmeriCorps. 

John Anderson '03 developed his interest in international development while studying abroad in Guatemala during his sophomore year in college. After graduating from Swarthmore in 2003 with majors in economics and sociology/anthropology, he spent six months interning with a NGO in Bangladesh. He then moved to Washington DC to work for Chemonics, a company that manages development projects for USAID. DC has been his home since, except for short assignments abroad in Kenya and Malawi and two years at the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton for a master’s in economic policy. Since finishing his graduate degree in 2011, John has worked at the World Bank Group on issues of economic policy, business regulation, and private sector development mostly in the Latin America and Africa regions.