World Bank to appoint 'global practices' directors this week

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim. Photo by: Simone D. McCourtie / World Bank / CC BY-NC-ND

World Bank President Jim Kim announced on Monday that the appointment of senior directors of the bank’s “global practices” will be finalized later this week ahead of the institution’s spring meetings.

“I am extremely pleased with the group that we have put together,” Kim said in reply to a question from Devex during a call with reporters.

“It was a very open process that I did not get involved in until the very end,” he added. “But then, when it got to the last 2 or 3 finalists, I interviewed every single one of them and got to know them in some depth.”

In a slight change in messaging, Kim framed the senior director positions as “a new career path” at the bank.

“You see, what we've done is that, for the first time in a very long time — frankly, for the first time that anyone can remember — we've created a new career path through the World Bank Group, where people who are great technically, who really understand land, transport, water, and finance, for example, can rise to the very highest levels of the bank, continuing to do almost solely their technical work,” he explained. “Whereas before, the path through the bank was really singular in the sense that you had to become part of management and move toward an administrative role.”

Kim didn’t clarify whether the bulk of these positions — 14 global practice leaders and 5 leaders of cross-cutting areas — would be filled internally or through external hires. Decisions on who will stay — and why — will be highly scrutinized by staff at the Washington, D.C.-based institution.

The appointments, which will likely become the face of the reforms to World Bank employees, if not to outsiders, have been highly anticipated. The president noted that the new directors would be reporting for work on July 1, the start of the new fiscal year. The reorganization of staff into the new technical offices was set to be completed by March 31.

More ‘firepower’ with reforms

The head of the World Bank will highlight the appointments as an integral part of his reform agenda at the Council on Foreign Relations on Tuesday, setting the stage for the semi-annual meeting of the bank’s board of governors in mid-April. It will also mark one year since the board officially approved the institution’s new goals to eliminate poverty by 2030 and promote shared prosperity.

In a copy of the speech provided to reporters, Kim will outline the key elements of his reform efforts, including the global practices, the new financial model for the bank and the cost-saving measures that have been introduced.

According to the text, Kim will focus on the increased financial “firepower” the bank is able to provide, highlighting the new reforms to the lending model for middle-income countries and  increased cooperation between the different arms of the bank.

The bank provided more details in a briefing paper, which stated that the institution’s middle-income lending arm will increase the single borrower limits of Brazil, China, India, Indonesia and Mexico by $2.5 billion, and be charged 0.5 percent more in interest on that new money. The World Bank said it will also reinstate a 0.25 percent “commitment fee” on undisbursed balances and offer longer maturities and more maturity differentiation on its loans.

Kim noted that the International Finance Corp., the bank’s private sector lending arm, will double its portfolio over the next 10 years, while the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency will increase its political risk insurance portfolio by 50 percent over the next 4 years.

Although the World Bank’s lending has gone down since 2009, it has forecast increased demand for its money to fill the gap in infrastructure financing for the developing world. Kim believes reforms like the global practices will increase demand by making the bank a better partner.

The president said that details on the first round of administrative budget cuts would be released in the next few days. So far, those don’t affect staffing, but the writing is on the wall — and Kim reiterated that the World Bank will be downsizing in the coming years.

“I believe we must get leaner in order to get bigger,” he explained.

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See more:

World Bank working to define ‘value for money’ in procurement
Where should procurement fit into new World Bank 'global practices?'
World Bank procurement team to join governance 'global practice'
World Bank appoints executives to lead ‘global practices’

About the author

  • Paul stephens 400x400

    Paul Stephens

    Paul Stephens is a Devex staff writer based in Washington, D.C. His coverage focuses on Latin America and World Bank affairs, as well as Washington's global development scene. As a multimedia journalist, editor and producer, Paul has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Washington Monthly, CBS Evening News, GlobalPost and the United Nations magazine, among other outlets. He's won a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting for a 5-month, in-depth reporting project in Yemen after two stints in Georgia - one as a Peace Corps volunteer and another as a communications coordinator for the U.S. Agency for International Development.