World Bank loses top management for South Asia, MENA

Philippe Le Houérou (left), World Bank’s vice president for South Asia, is moving to European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, while Inger Andersen (right), vice president for Middle East and North Africa, will be moving to the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Photo by: World Bank / CC BY-NC-ND

Just days after brewing discontent over World Bank President Jim Yong Kim’s controversial reorganization plans came to a head, two more executives are leaving the Washington, D.C.-based institution — the first since the internal changes officially came into effect July 1.

The departure of Philippe Le Houérou and Inger Andersen, vice presidents for South Asia, and Middle East and North Africa, respectively, were announced Thursday during Kim’s town hall meeting with staff, according to a Bloomberg report.

With these changes, top-level appointments at the World Bank should be expected in the next few weeks. Check out previous appointments from the past quarter in the latest edition of the Devex Executive Review.

Le Houérou, a 27-year veteran of the bank, joined the institution as part of the Young Professionals Program in 1987, and since then has served in several positions in East Asia, Latin America, Africa, and Europe and Central Asia, as well as in corporate services. According to his official bio, one of his most interesting roles was in the early 1990s, when he was tasked with helping Russia embrace the capitalist system and enter the global economy after the fall of the Soviet Union as senior country economist and adviser on budget management and public expenditure issue. Le Houérou then led replenishment efforts for the International Development Association and later became chief information officer for the bank’s Information Solutions Group and vice president for the Europe and Central Asia region before assuming his latest role.

Meanwhile, Andersen, a former vice president for sustainable development, has considerable on-the-ground development experience, including five years in Sudan. Her 15-year stint at the institution started in 1999. Previously, she worked for 12 years in several agencies within the United Nations system like the U.N. Development Program, specializing in MENA affairs.

On the day of the announcement, Le Houérou was appointed vice president at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, while Andersen revealed via Twitter she will be the next director general of the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Their departure is the biggest shake-up of the bank’s top management since August 2013, when veterans Caroline Anstey and Pamela Cox stepped down as managing director and senior vice president for change management, respectively.

Since the reform process started over a year ago, employees at the world’s largest international financial institution have been increasingly raising concerns about the lack of transparency in the whole process.

Many fear job cuts, especially after the bank announced in October that it expected to save up to $400 million in costs. Two weeks ago, some of the World Bank’s more than 15,000 employees reacted angrily when they learned Chief Financial Officer Bertrand Badré — who supervises the cost-reduction plan — was going to get paid a $94,000 “scarce skills” bonus.

Unfazed, Kim continues to defend his reform agenda. During the bank’s recent annual meetings in Washington, D.C., he said his main takeaway from meeting with disgruntled staff is that “they want to talk to me more.”

What do you think of World Bank reforms and how they will likely affect staffing? Please let us know by sending an email to or leaving a comment below.

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About the author

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    Carlos Santamaria

    Carlos is a former associate editor for breaking news in Devex's Manila-based news team. He joined Devex after a decade working for international wire services Reuters, AP, Xinhua, EFE ,and Philippine social news network Rappler in Madrid, Beijing, Manila, New York, and Bangkok. During that time, he also covered natural disasters on the ground in Myanmar and Japan.