Sérgio Pimenta, IFC Regional Vice President for Africa.

Sérgio Pimenta, IFC Regional Vice President for Africa. © IFC

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By: Sérgio Pimenta, IFC Regional Vice President for Africa

Last month, I completed my 25th year at The World Bank Group. I can still see myself in September 1996 flying to #Washington, D.C. on a one-way ticket from #Paris, excited by the prospects of a new professional experience and wondering how this new page of my life would unfold. Little did I know that I would spend the next 25 years working for the World Bank Group and would soon call Washington home.

After a one-year rotation in the Young Professionals Program in the #Africa Region of the World Bank, I moved to the IFC - International Finance Corporation where I have stayed ever since. I have done 10 different assignments, spent about half of my time outside of headquarters on four country office assignments, visited countless countries across all continents (I write these lines as I am traveling to #Sudan). I have met amazing people along the way, whether civil society, business owners, country officials or colleagues. I have worked on hundreds of projects and I have very fond memories.

Sérgio Pimenta.
Sérgio Pimenta. Photo: Courtesy of Sérgio Pimenta

Reflecting on the last 25 years, I can’t help but notice that what brings these incredibly different experiences together is our mandate and our values. Whether I worked on a fertilizer project in #Brazil (my first project when I joined the IFC) or led the team that processed a hotel transaction in #SriLanka, whether I restructured portfolio companies in #Thailand after the Asian Crisis or implemented liquidity support for Turkish manufacturing companies after the 2008 crisis, whether – more recently – I led teams who opened offices in #Myanmar and now in 10 countries across Africa or whether I engaged in high-level conversations with government authorities across the #MiddleEast and Africa, the common thread is the strong motivation from my colleagues and I to find solutions to help people across emerging markets improve their lives. Our mandate can be implemented through a variety of approaches and instruments, and we will remain relevant and effective as long as we stick to our key development role: supporting the private sector to help end poverty and increase shared prosperity.

As time has passed, and as I have been given more responsibility within the corporation, I have had to face bigger challenges and help teams seize bigger opportunities. I’d be lying if I said that our jobs are easy. They’re not, but our values – impact, integrity, respect, teamwork and innovation – have helped me during difficult times, as they’ve provided guidance when I was seeking answers.

For instance, striving for impact and innovation is an ambitious undertaking, but the diversity and quality of the teams with whom I have had the privilege to work is what makes this ambition possible. I was lucky to learn early on in my career – thanks to the excellent guidance of some of my managers and directors – to open my ears and eyes as much as possible and to learn from others.

IFC, like our sister organizations in the World Bank Group, brings together a multitude of experiences and cultures from which we can learn every day. Not many other workplaces offer this wealth of diversity.

So, when I look back at my younger self, landing in Dulles with my suitcases and with no clue of what was about to happen, I can’t help being happy by the choice that I made back then and grateful to all those who have made this 25-year journey such a unique and exciting experience.

This story was originally published on LinkedIn

Published in October 2021