Cecilia Paradi-Guilford, who graduated with a Master in International Business (MIB) from The Fletcher School at Tufts University, took time out from her busy schedule to tell us how the program helped her join the World Bank.
Cecilia works in the World Bank’s Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Unit. Her main responsibilities include policy and applications related to telecommunications and ICT.
Cecilia is working on a new World Bank initiative to bring together external and internal expertise in a collaborative forum to engage more citizens through ICT and increase public accountability.
Cecilia’s role is to identify external experts and link them to the World Bank operational world and to advise World Bank staff on how they can use ICT to increase accountability and public participation.
She concentrates on ICT applications and job creation within sector in the Middle East and North Africa. Recently she worked on Egypt and Tunisia.
Cecilia started at the World Bank just one year ago but has already been promoted twice since then.
“Initially, I got in touch with one of my current colleagues for research purposes when I was still in graduate school. I was doing my thesis research on telecommunications in Afghanistan and he is a telecoms specialist working on Afghanistan,” she explains.
“He became really interested in my work and I decided to tailor my research to the area he was most interested in. And obviously I let him know that I was interested in a position at the World Bank after graduation. Finally, I showed him my paper and he offered me an internship for three months”.
She ended up staying much longer than three months, expanding her portfolio to global initiatives as well as the Middle East and North Africa region. Last January her contract was upgraded, and she got another promotion in May.
Cecilia had always been interested in working for the World Bank: “In fact a big incentive for me to go to graduate school and get a degree was that it was a necessary requirement for the World Bank”, she explains. “I interviewed prior to my graduate studies for a position in the Middle East region, and the reason I didn’t get the job was the lack of a Masters degree in economics or finance”.
During her Master in International Business (MIB) at Fletcher, Cecilia chose to specialize in management and development economics, which she says are crucial “for any World Bank job that is related to development”.
“My MIB degree was very interesting in the way it was structured: it matches an MBA curriculum with an international relations one”, she says. “I knew I wanted to work for the World Bank, but I was also interested in keeping other opportunities open.
“The MIB prepared me for both business and international relations. I’m more efficient now in the way I think about processes, reach out to different partners, and look at proposals about the sustainability of development interventions”.
At the Fletcher School she also met a lot of people from the World Bank who gave her some great advice.
She says she likes her job because it allows her to think through particular development interventions and build them up from scratch.
“I like that I’m part of an innovative experiment within the bank, making sure that our interventions really make a difference on the ground”, she says. “I’m also really fortunate because I work on initiatives that really focus on engaging citizens, while the World Bank primarily deals with government clients”.
In addition, she likes the work environment: “I’m extremely fortunate: I work with high calibre people, with different background and from various nationalities. It’s a very interesting environment. I’ve a good rapport with my colleagues, so I can enjoy time after work with them as well”, she explains.
To people who want to work for the World Bank, she recommends: “There are various types of roles, so it’s important to figure out what you want when you target people with questions or submit applications, instead of just saying that, for example, you’re interested in economic development. You have to think of the person who receives your application: the more focused it is, the better your chances of getting into the area you want to work in”.
However, she warns, finding a job at the World Bank is not as easy as it was years ago: “The World Bank is decentralizing: this means that they’re hiring less people in the headquarters, but they’re hiring in the field offices. So this is something to keep in mind.”
For Cecilia, an MBA is definitely valuable: “A business qualification helps the way one approaches and develops a project and is very applicable, whether you work in the private or public sector”, she says. However, she adds that at the World Bank, “Having an understanding of development is still going to be crucial.”
Cecilia has wanted to work for the World Bank for a long time. Is her job as she had expected? “I wasn’t focused on ITC a lot prior to graduate school, so I didn’t think I would be working on this specific area four years ago. Also, in the past year I haven’t had the opportunity to travel much, so I hope that going forward I’ll travel some more!” she says.