Wolfgang Fengler
Lead Economist, World Bank
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“The greatest thing about my job is that I can work globally, which means that I can be with people from all strands of life, from all countries of the world”, Wolfgang Fengler tells about his job as Lead Economist at the World Bank. His advice for a 14-year old: “Do a lot of sports.”


Drei Ratschläge an Dein 14jähriges Ich!

I would focus on two big things; one thing to keep and one thing to change. What I would change is to really have a much more grasp of the world. At that time when I was growing up in the 80s things were quite narrow and thinking of studying abroad and going say to America was as different as if you will say today to say to someone, let’s go on a vacation to the moon. It was so out of my world even though we travelled a bit in Europe that it was quite extraordinary to understand how many opportunities the world is having. What I would the same and try to encourage my children is to do a lot of sports. The time when academic excellence is emphasized a lot and it’s important, clearly you need a balance, and sports is giving you great balance and it also tests your physical limits and your other self as well. And so that keeps your body and soul in balance. I myself did judo intensively at that age when I was 14 it helped me a lot to stay away from doing a lot of nonsensical things but also develop friendship that I still value till today.

Was steht auf Deiner Visitenkarte?

Wolfgang Fengler, my business card is Lead Economist, World Bank and for covering group of trade and competitiveness’ for the western bargains.

Was ist das coolste an Deinem Job?

The greatest thing about my job is that I can work globally which means that I can be with people from all strands of life, from all corners of the world. I have been with the World Bank for 15 years, I lived in four continents, I lived in America, in Asia where I lived in Indonesia, in Kenya and now I’m back almost I will say back, I’m not from Austria but I live in Vienna very close to my home in Germany. And that global live I have experienced the last 15 years.

Welche Einschränkungen bringt Dein Job mit sich?

Every opportunity has a challenge. So the challenge for me is I’m a part of the big organization. As you can imagine, if you are a part of the big organization, to move things, to do things, to be innovative is possible but it takes longer and that's good because it’s not a startup right? We can’t make as many mistakes as somebody who starts new organizations founded in 1945, but still that's a limitation that you have this bureaucratic constraints.

Worum geht es in Deinem Job?

The World Bank is a big development organization; it’s a bit like the United Nations for the economy. We do projects like a bank, so we give money to government and to businesses to help develop, a bit like it was in Europe after the war but also we do what we call consulting or “Think tank work” work so we do studies on poverty, on economy, on education and many subjects that concern people. My job is to cover both areas and help countries become more competitive which means from an Austrian perspective, think of the Austria and the banks that invest in Bosnia in Serbia, in many of the other countries, other businesses, we try to make a business step but also help people get a job so that they themselves lift them out of poverty. So typical a work day for me, I go to the office at 9 o’clock, days like with other jobs, a lot of emails waiting which came from Washington over the night which has to do a lot with my daily work, also with clients who have questions on specific projects, with media who ask for information on specific analysis in the country. I was just recently actually in London for a big investors conference where I spoke to the investors and to sovereign government. And then there is a lot on phone, there is my team in the country offices, there is a team in Washington that I bridge here from Vietnam and then there are a lot of video conference which basically brings this team together. It’s important in my job, we are a global institution offices in 100 countries around the world and part of my job and part of everybody’s job is to connect everybody and a lot is through video conference but also then through emails. Then the rest of the day which is not in meetings, not in emails is to, a bit like you do in a Think Tank, you sit down and write and read and try to write eventually, it could be books, it could articles, it could be thing that appear newspaper, I have my own blog called Future Development, where we have a blog roughly every day where I write and my team my team writes, so that my work thing.

Wie sieht Dein Werdegang aus?

I was born in Landshut, which is Bavarian small town, and then I moved to Munich at the age of 5. And that’s basically my home town-Munich, where I went to school, and then initially university, later on I went to university Augsburg which is close to Munich and also to Hamburg where I did my PhD. And during my studies and my postgraduate time, I also founded some companies, one was called Africa consulting, and it’s an import and export work as well. All the things that shaped my interest in international connections and life and the key moment for me was 1997 when I got the internship with the World Bank, which then led to the beefing up of that consultancy that I just mentioned-Africa Consulting that we did a big project for the World bank. And after that then I was lucky to enter the World Bank through what’s called Young Professionals Program where every year 40 people are selected and that happened in January 2000 when I started with the World Bank. And that's so then the last 15 years that I have been with the World Bank.

Ginge es auch ohne Deinem Werdegang?

Absolutely, my background is in political economics, so I studied both statistics, economics and also political science. The beauty in World Bank is you have people from all spectrums, not just from all over the world, all over sciences, s there is people who do true Statistics to true Engineering, to teachers, to doctors, everybody. As you know, In terms of skills there is hard skills and soft skills and often the soft skills are more important everywhere especially a job where you work with people from very different cultures and backgrounds. And so sensitivity and the diplomatic skill is quite important. The hard skills, clearly people with an academic degree are the majority in my organization but it doesn’t really matter what kind of degree you have there is a bias towards the Anglo-Saxon universities, not least but you have to speak English, so English that is a must, second language is a big plus.