Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Careers: From academia into helping billions

SAIS bridges theory and policy. There is no better example of the connections than students and faculty who move from the classroom to decision-making roles in governments and institutions. Çiğdem Akin recently took up a job at the Asian Development Bank after teaching economics at SAIS, first in Bologna, then in DC. Below she describes her new role and how her work at SAIS prepared her for the transition.

This May, after four years as a member of the SAIS Europe and DC economics faculty, I started work at the Asian Development Bank in Manila as a public management economist in the South Asia Regional Department.

Çiğdem Akin
It is an exciting transition from academia into an international organization.

I conduct periodic macroeconomic analyses of South Asian economies, help implement projects and administer loans to India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan.

I will be working primarily on public sector finance reform projects and technical assistance programs helping fiscally constrained regional governments streamline revenues and expenditures, implement reforms to manage their debt and build capacity to achieve sustainable allocation of public resources for long-term development and infrastructure priorities.

This position will complement my Ph.D-level academic background in macroeconomics and international finance with first-hand knowledge of multilateral institutions and hands-on experience in development project financing and implementation.

My three years of teaching at SAIS Europe in Bologna, Italy, during the European debt crises helped me appreciate the linkages between prudent management of public sector finances and macroeconomic development. In my courses I used case studies on the origins of the sovereign debt crises around the world, studies that will help me better understand fiscal issues in Asia.

At SAIS I taught extensively about the changing balance of power in the world economic order and the rise of the BRIC economies and other emerging markets. Now that I am in Asia and working particularly on India, I have a front-row seat on economic growth in this part of the world.

My interaction with SAIS's diverse student community has helped me develop my communication skills. SAIS's multidisciplinary approach will help me integrate different economic, political and social perspectives.

With these tools at hand, it is no surprise that SAISers constitute a large group of successful development professionals at the ADB. I have no doubt that the academic training and skills provided at SAIS prepare young minds for development careers in multilateral institutions like the ADB and the World Bank -- and to make a difference in the lives of billions of poor people living in developing countries.

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