OVER 9,000km from her native Bulgaria, World Bank Country Manager Galina Sotirova is steeped in the challenges and opportunities of developing nations like Jamaica.
Sotirova joined the bank in 1994 as a human development specialist and was a former country manager in Burkina Faso, and country operations advisor for the Caribbean before moving to Jamaica in July 2015. She also worked in Nigeria, Macedonia and Poland, the Ukraine, Belarus and Russia.
Her on-the-job experiences have included working in specialist areas like pension reform and health, and she has lived in countries where there was “constant turmoil and social unrest, shootings and coups”.
Her graduate degrees in international relations, economics and public policy from the University of Sofia, Johns Hopkins University SAIS, and the London School of Economics prepared her technically, but it is her “hands-on work in social and economic development that is most fulfilling”, she confesses.
Sotirova says that her current position in Jamaica allows her to “contribute to an overall programme that the bank has for a country rather than a particular sector — to work with governments and stakeholders to develop strategies based on issues being faced”.
A major focus of the country strategy for Jamaica, she said, is growth and the reduction of vulnerabilities, hence projects that seek to increase youth employment and empowerment, reduction of crime and enhanced safety.
But, she says, the World Bank does not simply design and implement projects and not look back. “We are constantly evaluating our project results and asking pertinent questions — are we doing the right thing? Is there something we need to be doing more of? We're constantly looking for the best model.”