Opportunities for MBAs with International Finance Organizati

by Derek Loosvelt | March 10, 2009

Washington, DC plays host to many organizations established specifically to assist in international finance and development. With international development an area of intense interest for MBAs who wish to apply their business expertise to improve conditions around the globe, Washington is a natural destination to search for opportunities. Increasingly, positions with these international finance organizations are becoming good opportunities for MBAs.

World Bank

The World Bank Group is a major source of assistance to developing national around the world. In 2002, it provided more than $19.5 billion in loans to client countries and works in more than 100 developing economies. It is funded by 184 member countries, which act as the shareholders of the bank and direct its activities.

There are five closely associated institutions comprising the World Bank Group: the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the International Development Association, the International Finance Corporation, the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency, and the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes. The "World Bank" specifically includes two of those groups, the IDA and the IBRD.

The World Bank helps fight poverty around the world by applying both financial resources and expertise to help developing countries become more financially stable and self-sufficient. The bank invests in poor countries by investing in people through healthcare and educational initiatives. It focuses on building strong institutions and government as a means of addressing poverty. It supports private business development as well as governmental reforms to create a stable economic development that encourages investment and long-term planning.

The World Bank is a prestigious employer. Its Young Professionals program provides a starting point for employment, including for MBAs. It is a rotational program that includes two rotational assignments in different departments. The purpose of the program is to prepare a select group of individuals for permanent positions within the World Bank. It is an extremely competitive program. Those MBAs interested in joining the program must stand out among thousands of applicants for about 40 openings.

The Young Professionals program is open to masters degree holders in a variety of areas, including business, but also economics, education, social sciences, engineering, education, and other areas. Candidates must be under 32 years old and should have foreign work and language experience.

Information on the program is available at the World Bank website, www.worldbank.org.

International Finance Corporation (IFC)

The International Finance Corporation (IFC), which is part of the World Bank Group, offers career opportunities to MBAs interested in pursuing position in international finance. The IFC promotes private sector investment as a way to reduce poverty in developing nations and improve the lives of their citizens. In fact it is the largest multilateral source of loan and equity financing for private sector projects in developing countries.

The IFC recruits at select MBA programs across the country to fill positions for its Global Transaction Team, a rotational program for freshly minted MBAs. In 2002, 12 MBAs joined the Global Transaction Team from several of the world's top business schools. Participants typically rotate throughout the IFCs matrix system, gaining experience in functional areas such as Oil, Gas and Mining; Agri-business; or Manufacturing, or in geographic regions like Asia or Latin America. After a few rotations, members of the program typically are brought into one particular area to continue their careers at the IFC.

MBAs joining the IFC will find the work to be similar to an associate level investment banker or an associate at a private equity firm. Often, they will work with investment banks in arranging financing packages, which vary in size but utilize primarily debt instruments. There are, however, several key differences. According to one participant, the IFC offers associate-level employees the opportunity to be more involved in the deal flow than would be possible at a large investment bank. And while there will be less hours than at an investment bank, the compensation is also lower.

MBAs interested in applying for the Global Transaction Team should be prepared to emphasize the following in their application materials and interviews:

  • Transactional Finance Experience: Positions on the Global Transaction team are very transactional, and generally require prior experience in finance;
  • International Development Interest: Candidates must exhibit a strong interest in international development and should have relevant international experience; and
  • International Experience and Language Skills: Strong knowledge of developing regions and fluency in more than one language are seen as beneficial in the hiring process.

The IFC also makes experienced hires. However, there is no formal recruitment mechanism for those interested in joining the IFC in mid-career. Opportunities are posted to the website at www.ifc.org/careers.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF)

The International Monetary Fund was established by its member nations to promote international monetary cooperation, exchange stability and to foster economic growth and strong economies. The IMF carries out its mission by monitoring economic and financial developments around the globe, provide loans to countries, and assistance in policy development.

While the IMF typically hires economists, insiders suggest that it has stepped up its recruitment of MBAs for its analyst program. While the analyst program requires candidates with at least a B.A., most candidates possess Masters Degrees. MBAs, particularly those with a background in economics and significant coursework in finance, have been recruited to fill specific needs at the IMF, such as monitoring and analyzing world financial markets. Since senior members of the IMF are almost exclusively PhD economists, those at the analyst level tend to work at the IMF for a few years before moving on to other positions or returning to academia.

For those interested in positions at the IMF, the best route is of course networking. Options for networking include alumni (both business school and undergraduate) and by making contact with current IMF personnel (including informational interviews). Positions are also posted on its website, www.imf.org.

Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) was established to help accelerate economic development in Latin America and the Caribbean. In addition to the bank, the Inter-American Development Bank Group includes the Inter-American Investment Corporation (IIC) and the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF). The IIC is an autonomous affiliate of the Bank that promotes economic development by financing small and medium size private enterprises. The MIF promotes private sector development.

The IDB recruits masters candidates through its Young Professionals program. Information on the program is available at www.iadb.org. The IIC and MIF also have employment information on their sites, which can be accessed through the IADB site.

Filed Under: Finance


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