Winston is a senior rural development specialist in the agriculture global practice. He’s seen first-hand how his projects directly benefit lives across South Asia.

“The World Bank is a great place for making a difference economically in the lives of individuals.”

Winston, Senior Rural Development Specialist

I’m from the beautiful island of Jamaica, in the Caribbean. 

I currently manage a portfolio of projects, in the South Asia region. But I’m actually mapped to what is called the agriculture global practice of the Bank. This is actually quite exciting because the South Asia region actually has the largest incidence of poverty and so this gives a great opportunity to make a difference. 

I’m a senior rural development specialist in the agriculture global practice. And as a rural development specialist—it’s actually a very loaded term—but we provide support, economic support, in the agriculture and rural development space. So we get involved with things, whether it’s rural finance, working with community groups, providing support to community infrastructure, providing—could be working on health or even on our culture. But most of it is driven by the needs in the rural areas of different countries. 

The Bank actually is an excellent institution for making a difference. How? It does that by first taking a lot of theory and make that actually into practical applications. It’s also a place where we actually have—where change can happen. The institution also has great convening power. In other words, we are able to bring individuals together who, under normal circumstances, would not come together. The World Bank also is a great place for making a difference economically in the lives of individuals. So for me, every day I am excited to come to work for the World Bank because I am committed and passionate about the mission and I get great joy in making a difference to individuals who I interact with on a daily basis. 

In terms of advice for individuals who would like to join the World Bank, I think you need to have a clear sense of commitment and drive. It’s a place where you really would be working for long hours. And so it’s not only about the time and the remuneration, but it’s really about wanting to make a difference. And so if you are passionate about economic development, getting your hands dirty by going into the field, walking for a couple hours to visit a village—if you are willing and interested in true development, I think the World Bank would be the place for you. 

I work on Bhutan, and it’s very mountainous, and there are not many roads. So sometimes you walk three, four, five, six hours just to get to a village so it’s actually really, I mean, I’m not making it up. [laughs] 

A very interesting story that I am actually very proud of is that of working with a community group in Bangladesh. There was a group of women, and we provided initial, very small, what you call “seed grants” to support them, to start that interlending process.

One individual, she borrowed about 1,000 rupees, which is a very small amount of funds, less than $5. And she bought chickens. Eventually, the chickens, she sold them, she sold eggs, and then she bought...She took another loan of just about 10,000 rupees. That she then used it to buy a goat. Over time, the goat had kids. And she used another loan, for 30,000 rupees, and bought a cow. Eventually, she then sold that cow and bought two acres of land, started planting, vegetables and different crops, and eventually when we met her over—this all happened over a three-year period—she was making over 100,000 rupees. Totally transformed her life, totally transformed the life of her family.

This something that we are proud of because it only started from a very small intervention on the part of the Bank. If we actually hadn’t started, or hadn’t intervened, or worked with this group, she probably would be still in the same situation. It’s just one small example of how the Bank can make a difference in the lives of the very poor.

For individuals who are interested in the Bank, one thing I would recommend is that when they enter the institution, is to try to identify mentors. It’s really good to have both formal and informal mentors. These individuals I found in my career have been extremely helpful in guiding me in terms of making decisions, in terms of where should I apply, where should I move or projects I should actually even undertake. As well, they have also provided advice in terms of even challenges that I may be having working with other colleagues. So I find that having mentors, individuals who you can—both formal and informal mentors—who can share and provide advice is actually very important if you, in having a successful career in the institution.