“We provide policy advice that helps governments and authorities respond quickly to this crisis, to enable them to safeguard health and social spending to fight the crisis, but also not lose track of what happens when you come out of it — to make sure that governments don’t put themselves in a situation that's too challenging to dig out of.”
“There are particular challenges associated with the need to act very quickly in a global pandemic, and the need to make sure that your policies and your advice is both timely and tailored,” said Marwa al Nasa’a (MPP ‘08) about her work with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Her work to promote financial stability, economic cooperation, and sustainable economic growth has taken on an even greater level of importance as developing countries struggle to respond to COVID’s economic repercussions and plan for a post-pandemic recovery.
At the IMF, al Nasa’a provides fiscal and economic advice to finance ministries and central banks to ensure that the IMF’s partner governments meet their fiscal stability, transparency, and accountability goals. She recently joined a project team where she works on issues like revenue mobilization, expenditure policies, and fiscal rules in Burkina Faso.
Al Nasa’a started her post-undergraduate career in her home country of Jordan with the Ministry of Planning. She spent much of her time working with the same types of economists and fiscal researchers that she would later become. Al Nasa’a said that through this experience, she learned how to be a better partner and work with international experts — what questions to ask, how to approach and engage on key issues, and more. But she also wanted to be doing the kind of work they were doing. “I wanted to be the one who was doing these [economic] analyses; I wanted to be the person who's able to help other countries, or my own, come up with these policies.” This experience influenced al Nasa’a’s decision to attend the Ford School and move into non-governmental work.
“To be successful at the IMF, you have to have clear and concise writing, communication skills, and a strong quantitative base. Without a strong quantitative base, it’s very difficult to set yourself apart from the crowd.”
She gained many of these skills at the Ford School and gained greater confidence through international experiences. Al Nasa’a took advanced econometrics with the late Professor John DiNardo and “learned on her feet” while teaching STATA in the South Africa Distance Learning program. With her classmates, she planned and went to Jordan as part of the International Economic Development Program (IEDP). “We held discussions with policymakers on topics like refugees, water scarcity, free trade, among other things. The authorities were very impressed, and it made me proud to be part of that group.”
For recent or soon-to-be graduates looking for jobs during a time of crisis, Al Nasa’a offered advice: “Be flexible and open minded in your job search. You may end up in a place where you didn't ever think you would work and find your purpose there.” Al Nasa’a also emphasized the incredible base of knowledge that Ford School graduates have, which sets them up for success. “If you have the base, you don’t need to know everything about a topic. Be clear about what you know and don't know, and what you're willing to learn. And stay in touch with your colleagues at the Ford School.