There is huge enthusiasm in Washington this morning, and no small measure of surprise.
A World Bank president nominee with a sense of humor and who mixes with his stakeholders. After seven years of social awkwardness, Jim Kim’s ability to ‘mix it up’, as demonstrated in this “Dartmouth Idol” video, will be a welcome change.
A Korean-born physician and pioneer in the treatment of HIV, AIDS and tuberculosis, Kim has the breadth of experience on development issues needed to carry out the financial institution’s anti-poverty mission. He brings service in a large international organization (WHO), work on global public goods (health/HIV-AIDS), activism (health care delivery for the poor), getting results (health care delivery, in the US context) and an evidence-based discipline (medicine and public health). As president of Dartmouth, a small Ivy League college, he is used to managing university professors, a strongly needed skill, and fundraising, always useful for the World Bank.
He also seems to be an Obama donor, but unlike political insiders, former politicians (successful or not), commercial bank presidents or self-made rich men US presidents have anointed before, Kim seems to meet the leadership, experience and results qualifications the owners of the World Bank have set for their decision-making criteria.
Unlike the other names, American and non-American, on the lists that have been floated since Robert Zoellick confirmed his departure two months ago, Kim brings no internal or external baggage from the development set (Sachs, Easterly, ex-Bank chief economists, NGOs, CSOs, Bank staff). But stories will surely surface.
As the executive directors review the nominations for their upcoming ‘open, transparent and merit-based selection’, they will no doubt look at what everyone brings to the job, and how they can refashion how they behave to make Zoellick’s successor a success for global development and for the World Bank.