Apr 6, 2012
I enjoy peanuts. I don’t mind sitting in the balcony. And, I don’t mind throwing my two cents into debates where the buy-in is a lot higher than that. So, for the record, I do not support Dr. Jim Yong Kim for president of the World Bank even if he is Mr. Obama’s nominee and the run-away favorite.
Dr. Kim is currently the president of Dartmouth College. He is the first Asian-American to head an Ivy League institution. If elected, he would also be the first physician to lead the World Bank. And, therein lies my concern—he is a physician with no banking or real business experience. He is a global health expert, not an economist or financial expert.
Traditionally, the World Bank has been led by veteran business leaders, financial experts, or seasoned Washington professionals. Among the list of past presidents are notable former cabinet members Robert McNamara and Paul Wolfowitz and accomplished bankers Alden Clausen and Lewis Preston. The current president is Robert Zoelick, who has been a banker, Deputy Secretary of State and a US Trade Representative.
So, how does an expert in global health get nominated to lead the World Bank? My best guess is fame and timing. Dr. Kim is well-known in International Aid circles. He is the co-founder of Partners in Health (PIH) and a major player in the World Health Organization. His star has risen with the increased concern over infectious diseases, especially HIV/AIDS. He has even made a bus tour with Bono. In a climate where celebrity means too much, he has it.