MBA Student’s Experience Highlights the Significance of Diversity at the World Bank
March 07, 2016
Arjun Nath, second year MBA student at the Wharton School, interned with two different groups within the World Bank in DC. He sat down with Penn Wharton PPI to share his experience working and living in DC for a summer. Listen to the interview on iTunesU or read the transcript below.
Transcript from edited interview with Arjun Nath, W’16
The first part [of my internship] was with MIGA, Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency, World Bank Group. They provide political risk insurance, to companies that are investing in risky markets, hence encouraging foreign direct investment (FDI) and encouraging private sector development. I did a project with business development for them, identifying within a few sectors, companies that are doing a lot of FDI in risky markets and seeing how they can develop business with them.
The second internship was with a group called Trade and Competitiveness Global Practice, a joint World Bank and IFC team. My project there was around identifying how best to engage with the different countries to develop what the World Bank calls their country partnership frameworks. These country partnership frameworks, they are essentially frameworks for defining how the World Bank will engage with the different countries on trade issues, on investment climate issues, on improving private sector development, and improving competitiveness of the industries. My project with them was around identifying which countries have a lot of trade policy issues that need to be delved into, and also at the same time identifying how the process currently works between this group, the trade and competitiveness group and the different countries and how we can best optimize this process.
The two internships varied in terms of things like the environment, the work culture, and the size of the teams. The internship with MIGA was with a small group of people within the whole World Bank Organization. It is a total of about 150 young people, and as a result, they are a lot more nimble as a sub-group of the World Bank. The other important thing to remember is that MIGA deals directly with the private sector, so think political risk insurance, think private sector companies going into risky markets and making investments, trying to sell them political risk insurance. Because of that dealing with the private sector, things are a lot more agile, and a lot more facile as well. With the second internship with the Trade and Competitiveness group, it’s a much larger staff, approximately 500 - 600 people. And that includes people from the World Bank who deal with government institutions around the world as well as people from the IMF who deal more with the private sector who deal also with the government in terms of providing advisory services. With the larger team size, it is a slower process in terms of how operations go, but at the same time they are also doing very exciting work in terms of trade policy, in terms of identifying where it is that competitiveness is lacking and where they can push the envelope forward.
There are a few things that really stood out from my summer in DC. The first is that the environment in DC is extremely charged with talk about development, particularly at organizations such as the World Bank, or IMF, so all the conversations I used to have with people, be it office related, be it outside of the office, but always talking about extremely interesting topics, around the world, on the field of development, on the field of policy. That was one very exciting thing. Another thing that I found very exciting, in particular about the World Bank, was the diversity that I saw. An anecdote that I give is, every time that we used to go out to dinner for example, with a group of ten to twelve people, on most of these evenings, you’d be able to count at least eight or nine countries, even within a group of twelve people. Which really shows how much you can learn from the diversity and how diverse the World Bank is. As a result, you talk about policy issues that vary from countries that are just starting at the frontier of development to countries that have perhaps gone through that middle barrier but are finding hard to cross the stage of high level of development and those issues can be very diverse. But you can have all of those conversations in a very exciting manner at an organization like the World Bank and in DC in particular.