The executive directors of the World Bank have selected Indian-origin Ajay Banga as president of the World Bank for a five-year term beginning June 2, 2023. He takes charge of the World Bank at a time when it faces the critical task of reducing global poverty and the major issue of climate change.
Reacting to the development, U.S. President Joe Biden congratulated Banga, who was nominated by Biden for the post. Biden said he will be a transformative leader, bringing expertise, experience, and innovation to the position of World Bank President.
"And together with World Bank leadership and shareholders, he will help steer the institution as it evolves and expands to address global challenges that directly affect its core mission of poverty reduction—including climate change. Ajay will also be integral in bringing together the public and private sectors, alongside philanthropies, to usher in the fundamental changes in development finance that this moment requires," said the U.S. President.
The World Bank in its statement said the selection process was merit-based and transparent. "The Executive Directors followed the selection process agreed by shareholders in 2011. The process included an open, merit-based, and transparent nomination where any national of the Bank’s membership could be proposed by any Executive Director or Governor through an Executive Director. This was then followed by thorough due diligence and a comprehensive interview of Mr. Banga by the Executive Directors."
The World Bank says its board looks forward to working with him on the World Bank Group Evolution process, as discussed at the April 2023 Spring Meetings, and on all the World Bank Group’s ambitions and efforts aimed at tackling the toughest development challenges facing developing countries.
Sixty-three-year-old Ajay Banga is the first Indian-American to serve as the World Bank President. Banga's selection comes as World Bank's previous chief David Malpass announced early retirement from the top position. The process of accepting candidate nominations ran until March 29, 2023, following which the final decision on the selection of the chief of the international financial institution was taken.
Banga most recently served as vice chairman at General Atlantic. Previously, he was President and CEO of Mastercard, a company that he led through a strategic, technological, and cultural transformation.
Banga completed his B.A. in economics from Delhi University and did his MBA from the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad. Banga joined as Mastercard's COO and president in August 2009, following which he was appointed as president and CEO of the company in July 2010.
Before that, he worked with Citigroup’s Asia-Pacific Region as its CEO. He joined the company in 1996 and worked in a variety of positions. Prior to that, Banga was with FMCG giant Nestle's India unit and global multinational company Pepsico.
Banga brings with him vast experience of being a global leader in technology, data, financial services, and innovation for inclusion. He is also the honorary chairman of the International Chamber of Commerce, serving as chairman from 2020-2022, and chairman of Exor and independent director at Temasek. He became an advisor to General Atlantic’s climate-focused fund, BeyondNetZero, at its inception in 2021. Previously, he served on the Boards of the American Red Cross, Kraft Foods and Dow Inc.
Notably, Ajay has worked closely with Vice President Kamala Harris as the Co-Chair of the Partnership for Central America. He is also a member of the Trilateral Commission, a founding trustee of the U.S.-India Strategic Partnership Forum, a former member of the National Committee on United States-China Relations, and Chairman Emeritus of the American India Foundation.
He was also awarded the Foreign Policy Association Medal in 2012, the Padma Shri Award by the President of India in 2016, the Ellis Island Medal of Honor and the Business Council for International Understanding’s Global Leadership Award in 2019, and the Distinguished Friends of Singapore Public Service Star in 2021.
Notably, the President of the World Bank Group is also the Chair of the Board of Executive Directors of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD). The President is also ex officio chair of the Board of Directors of the International Development Association (IDA), the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), and the Administrative Council of the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID).