After travelling the world to build his academic and professional experience, Siddharth eventually returned home to India, where he is now working with the World Bank. His journey has spanned continents, but what stands out especially is Siddharth's perseverance and strategic mindset – it is a journey of visualizing and persistently following your vision. »I ended up graduating in the midst of the financial crisis,« Siddharth recalls, when old systems were collapsing and people were looking for alternatives. Paradoxically, the situation actually opened up new realms of possibilities for him. Today, he works at the World Bank’s new office in New Delhi, where he focuses on the energy and extractive industries. As part of the »Power for All 24x7 Programme,« his aim is to bring electricity to rural villages – a difficult task in the face of mountainous terrain, desert areas and political instability. »Electricity is crucial for development,« Siddharth stresses, explaining that renewable resources such as solar energy and wind power are crucial to this transformation.
Siddharth first became exposed to public policy while pursuing a Bachelor of Business Administration in Toronto. On a study-abroad programme to Sweden, he chose Economic and Foreign Policy as an elective, and soon got hooked. He has been pursuing public policy ever since. After graduating, he volunteered for a local Member of Parliament in Toronto where he dealt with national and international government oversight of the extractive industry. »This is how I gained insight into the public sector of a developed country,« Siddharth says. A traineeship in the private sector at the Vale mining company in Rio de Janeiro followed. »There has to be a balance between the private and the public sector,« Siddharth emphasizes. This traineeship gave him the opportunity to gain insights into the private sector in a developing economy. His understanding of global policy issues was growing.
Asked for his career advice, Siddharth offers the following: »Aim to achieve your goals, continue the dialogue, be perseverant, do not easily settle for no. Chart your own career. You are the one who knows what you are good at and what you are passionate about.«
While searching for a Master of Public Policy in Canada, Siddharth realized that the Canadian programmes tended to focus more on local issues. »I was interested in a programme with an international focus, « he says. »I was looking for a university that was open to new ideas,« a university that also offered a dual degree. The recently founded Hertie School of Governance proved to be the ideal place, both at the time and in retrospect – »a place to experiment,« as he describes it. Siddharth looked at the student profiles of the Hertie School of Governance to help make up his mind about whether to apply. »I could relate to their profiles,« he realised. The student-faculty ratio also played a key role for him. To top it off, there was the university’s location: »You’d have to be crazy to say no to Berlin,« Siddharth jokes.
»I wanted to make the most of all the opportunities the Hertie School of Governance had to offer,« Siddharth says. He did just that during his Master of Public Policy, successfully pursuing a Professional Year with the World Bank and a dual degree programme with the London School of Economics, a partner of the Hertie School of Governance. Despite his busy student life, Siddharth also took on the role of Treasurer for the Hertie student council. Thanks to his involvement, part of the council's budget was reallocated so that water dispensers could be installed throughout the school. »I was interested in the psychology behind the relationships between the faculty, the student body and the Hertie foundation. An exciting question was, for example, how to influence people’s behaviour without specific regulations,« Siddharth says.
At one point, the Hertie School of Governace’s Career Service hosted an event with a representative from the World Bank. By the end of the event, Siddharth had decided to intern with the organisation. He applied for an internship in their Mozambique office. At first, he was turned down because his interviewers thought his Portuguese was not fluent enough for the job. But this did not stop Siddharth. After a 30-minute early-morning phone call to Washington, D.C. from Berlin, he persuaded the staff that his other skills outweighed his language proficiency. The World Bank declined again, this time due to a lack of funding. »I will work for no pay,« Siddharth responded, undeterred.
While waiting for a chance to work for the World Bank, he took another internship with the HeidelbergCement Group, with a focus on corporate social responsibility. He was posted to Malta from May to August. »I was reading Portuguese texts on the beaches of Malta,« Siddharth says, in order to prepare for his hoped-for internship with the World Bank. It was in Malta, in a public telephone booth surrounded by party-goers, that he interviewed for his final round with the World Bank. Finally, the long-awaited acceptance letter arrived and Siddharth ended up pursuing an entire Professional Year with the bank in Mozambique, looking at how the government could better invest tax revenues from the extractives industry into public programmes. »There I gained valuable insights into the not-for-profit sector of an underdeveloped country,« he explains. He had now worked for the private, public and not-for-profit sector in developed, developing and underdeveloped countries. »An economy should be based on its manufacturing sector,« he explains. As a result, in his view, Mozambique should not rely primarily on its extractive profits. »This helps a country not to be dependent on a single, primary sector,” Siddharth points out.
Asked for his career advice, Siddharth offers the following: »Aim to achieve your goals, continue the dialogue, be perseverant, do not easily settle for no. Chart your own career. You are the one who knows what you are good at and what you are passionate about.« He is living proof that determination is the key ingredient in achieving your goals. If he had stopped pursuing the internship with the World Bank after receiving his first rejection, he would not be where he is today. Instead, he kept going.