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Africa News of Sunday, 29 August 2021


How Salim became an economics guru - Tanzanian speaks on her World Bank rise

World Bank’s country manager for Cambodia, Maryam Salim World Bank’s country manager for Cambodia, Maryam Salim

When Maryam Salim applied for a job in the World Bank, after graduation, she did not even make it to the interview stage.

But that did not discourage her to make necessary preparations to qualify for the job she craved.

“I decided to go back to school for my Master’s degree in International Economics and International Relations to help strengthen certain areas that I felt could help in my career development,” she says in an online interview with The Citizen.

Ms Salim, the Tanzanian national, was recently appointed by the World Bank as its new country manager for Cambodia.

Her journey to the position is a long one after spending nearly 20 years in the Breton Wood institution.

“What helped me along my career journey? For me, it was a combination of hard work, a willingness to take risks and knowing I might fail, but being willing to try again when I did. I had a very supportive network of family, friends and colleagues who believed in me and provided an excellent sounding board. I was also very fortunate to have excellent mentors along the way willing to advise me. Lastly, was understanding that growth also required learning and being open to new ideas along the way,” she said.

After graduation, Ms Salim sent her curriculum vitae (CV) to someone in one of the World Bank departments, hoping that it will open the door for a possible employment.

The CV was shared with another who was looking to hire a consultant. As a result, she was hired for the first in the World Bank as a consultant in what was then the Africa technical department.

“I was hired in October 1991 in a unit that focused on Women in Development. Specifically, I worked on issues related to gender and law.”

She spent a number of years as a consultant for the Bank, mostly working on Eastern and Southern Africa. She later decided to apply for the World Bank’s Young Professional Programme and failed to make it to the interview stage.

Then she went back to school for a master’s degree which she believed could help her in the career development.

She did not give up to apply for jobs at the World Bank – the institution she loved to work with.

“I applied again and I was selected the second time I applied. I have applied for many positions at the World Bank, but I was not selected. However, I learned something from each attempt and those lessons helped me later on as I took on greater responsibilities,” she said.

“The experiences also taught me to always apply for roles that you want and believe you are qualified for. Do not second guess yourself or doubt you have the abilities. Just because you do not make it the first time or perhaps you did not get offered one position does not mean you will not succeed the next time.”

She joined the World Bank as a Young Professional in 1998 and has worked in health and social protection programmes in the Africa, Europe and Central Asia, and East Asia and Pacific regions, according to the bank.

She has more than 20 years of experience in the World Bank, most recently as the Country Manager for Albania. Following her previous posting as a social and human development specialist in Cambodia, she held several high-profile positions in the bank operations policy in Washington D.C

“Before my first consulting assignment at the World Bank, I was attending law school. I graduated in May of 1991. And while I was studying for the New York Bar exam, I worked part time at the Juvenile Justice Clinic at the law center.

But for a few short-term assignments with other organizations between my time as a consultant and when I became staff, my entire career has been with the World Bank.”