Leader Profile: Robert Zoellick, World Bank President

    As an administrator, Robert Zoellick deems it significant to have ‘a sense of strategic direction.’

    “By nature, I’m very straightforward,” the president of the World Bank, said in an interview during his first official day at work. “I’m open, I value multiplicity views, but I also like to have a sense of strategic direction….What I look for in people is a sense of how to combine their knowledge and expertise and experience with a focus on results, and a sense of humility.”

    On his 100th day in office, Zoellick shared his “initial impressions and ideas for [the bank’s] strategic directions” with a specific focus on fostering inclusive and sustainable globalization.

    With the growing global labor force and increasing pools of savings, “globalization offers incredible opportunities,” Zoellick said in a 2007 speech at the National Press Club in Washington D.C.

    “Yet many remain on the fringes and some are falling further behind,” the World Bank chief said of countries, communities and individuals affected by “conflicts, poor governance and corruption, discrimination, lack of basic human needs, disease, the absence of infrastructure, weak economic management and incentives, lack of property rights and rule of law, and even geography and weather.”

    Zoellick argued in the same speech that the global lender should focus its resources and expertise on nations suffering from poverty and armed conflicts.

    Today, more than a year and a half into his tenure as World Bank president and amid the global financial, food and oil crises, Zoellick remains steadfast in pushing for an inclusive globalization through a reformed multilateral network.

    “Ours must be globalization where both the opportunities and the responsibilities are more widely shared … Multilateralism, at its best, is a means for solving problems among countries, with the group at the table willing and able to take constructive action together,” the former US State Department deputy secretary said in a speech at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington, D.C. on Oct. 6, 2008.

    “The New Multilateralism, suiting our times, will need to be a flexible network, not a fixed nor unitary system,” he discussed further in the said speech. “It needs to maximize the strengths of interconnecting and overlapping actors and institutions, public and private.”

    From 2006 to 2007, Zoellick held the managing director post at Golman Sachs, a global bank holding company.

    He also served as the 13th US trade representative and in that capacity, he successfully launched free trade agreements with Jordan, Chile, Singapore, Morocco, Bahrain, five countries in Central America and the Dominican Republic, and Australia.

    A native of Illinois, Zoellick graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Swarthmore College in 1975. He earned a Juris Doctor magna cum laude from Harvard Law School and a Master of Public Policy from the Kennedy School of Government in 1981.

    “We have seen the dark side of global connectedness. We need to navigate toward the light,” Zoellick said as he continues to lead the 185-member multilateral development bank in dealing with today’s economic issues on energy, climate change, and stabilizing fragile and post-conflict states.

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