Today is our third edition of this year’s e-introduction series. Say “hello” to Bobby Eric Musah. Bobby is from Monrovia, Liberia and is the Director for Economic Policy Unit with the Department of Economic Management at the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning. He’s attending SIPA to learn more sustainable development so he’ll be better prepared to adjust his career path and ultimately become a stronger professional in the field.

 

Full Name: Bobby Eric Musah
Age: 34
Degree Program: MPA in Development Practice
Anticipated Graduation Year: Spring 2018
Hometown: Monrovia, Montserrado, Liberia

Undergraduate University: African Methodist Episcopal University, Liberia
Undergraduate Major: Accounting and Economics
Undergraduate Graduation Year: 2006

What’s your professional background?
I am currently the Director for Economic Policy Unit with the Department of Economic Management at the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning. I have been in the public service since 2006, rising from a mere bookkeeper position, to analyst, to senior financial analyst, to principal analyst, then onto being an economist before becoming a Director. Within the interval of time, I have held these technical positions in various departments at the Ministry; including the erstwhile Bureau of General Accounting, the Office of the Comptroller & Accountant General, the Department of Expenditure & Debt Management, the Department of Administration and the Department of Economic Management. Off my duty, I once served as a fiscal budget preparation consultant for the Ministry of Public Works during Fiscal year 2008/09. I also served as a part-time lecturer for the Investment portfolio analysis undergraduate course at the African Methodist Episcopal University in Liberia.

Did you apply to SIPA to change careers or to gain experience in a career path you already have experience in?
Coming to SIPA, my ambition is exactly in two folds. One is to change career and the latter is to augment my existing expertize in policy analyses. I have realized that the world’s ambition to ending extreme poverty cannot be realize unless we champion the desire to make it work by engaging in sustainability studies of our economic development, social inclusion and our environment. Because of this, I have change gear! The task that I usually perform relates to policy analyzes, it is important to note that keeping up to date on issues that matters is relevant for decision making; so I need to enhance and upgrade my skills and expertise to suit current realities.

What was your reaction when you found out you were accepted to SIPA?
I had like to make an open confession that once you apply to SIPA you never keep your eyes off the internet, just trying to get a pop notification from your computer regarding any status sent by the Office of Admissions and financial aid. It took me approximately a year back and forth, from the first time I contacted the school up to the day I got my admission decision. Applying to SIPA is intensive but rewarding if you are prepared. When I got the news, I knew from that very moment my transformation has finally come and my future joy will definitely be the outcome of my struggling past. It is fantastic when your admission decision is positive, you will see the e-letter on the Welcome portal with fabulous balloons and ribbons floating all over the page. This innovation is incredible!

Why did you say “yes” to SIPA?
I said “yes” to SIPA because of three interconnected reasons; the diversity, reputation and solutions to real world problems. The fact that SIPA is the most global public policy school in the world; it is both an academic and career advantage to be a product of that community.

What do you most look forward to as a graduate student at SIPA?
Taking a close look at the recent 2016 review of SIPA applications window posted on the MIA/MPA student blog few months ago, you see clearly that the global community rests at the heart of Columbia University. It means I am looking forward to networking for the future and to expand knowledge sharing for the benefit of mankind as well as the achievement of the sustainable development goals (SDGs), for which my country has a huge capacity gap need. I am also looking forward to network with other ivy league colleagues from Harvard, Yale, Princeton even Oxford and Cambridge University in the UK.

Do you have any apprehensions about starting graduate school?
Yes, I do have! When you think about the time, resources and efforts put into the application and attending serious graduate school, it is so enormous. The truth is that it is worth the cost when the outcome suits your energy and zest used in the process. Attending graduate schools are indeed expensive and funding is scarce; but attending the right one will yield the desire positive expected return in the long-run.

What are your goals after SIPA?
I expressly so desire to be a lead policy expert on sustainable development issues. With the knowledge obtained from my graduate studies at Columbia University SIPA, I will be able to help drive the positive change the world desires; at the same time help to proffer better policies that will improve the living standard of the poor, disadvantaged and unfairly marginalized people. Perhaps, I wish to become an international civil servant, helping the fight against poverty. I will endeavor to build a team of development experts through knowledge sharing and capacity development. I will extend my expertise to schools, institutions of higher learning and Governments.

[Photo courtesy of Bobby Eric Musah | A pictorial with Noble Laureate Professor Joseph Stiglitz at the side meeting on “Unlocking public and private capital for Africa Infrastructure” at the Global Conference on Financing for Development(FfD3) in July 2015, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.]

[Photo courtesy of Bobby Eric Musah | A pictorial with Noble Laureate Professor Joseph Stiglitz at the side meeting on “Unlocking public and private capital for Africa Infrastructure” at the Global Conference on Financing for Development(FfD3) in July 2015, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.]

 

If you could change one small thing about your community, country or the world, what would it be?
In my community, country and the world, I would not only change one thing but I will advance positive transformation for that thing. Conclusively, I will change poverty and turn it into prosperity.

Tell us something interesting about yourself:
Honestly, I am from a poor and humble background, so I have serious ambition of helping the fight against poverty through education. I am currently the Director for Economic Policy Unit within the Department of Economic Management; the nodal Department at the Ministry of Finance & Development Planning which is responsible for the formulation and monitoring of economic policies for the Government of Liberia. I serve as the department focal person on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as well as Co-Chair for the steering committee on the National Human Development Report (NHDR) of 2015 in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Within the West African Monetary Zone (WAMZ), I serve as the Ministry’s focal person on the Technical Committee of experts on the macroeconomic and monetary convergence. By profession I am a Financial Economist. I obtained my Masters of Science degree with honor from the Bristol Business School in the United Kingdom specializing in empirical finance. I also have a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from the African Methodist Episcopal University in Liberia.

My technical skills are noticeable in areas of economic analyses and report writing, growth model, financial programming, debt and money market operations, investment project appraisals, risk management, public finance issues, and econometric modeling for monetary policy analysis ,having attended short-term specialized courses at various renowned training institutions globally; including the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Institute and the IMF Research Department in the USA, Duke University in the USA, Crown Agents International in the UK, and the West African Institute for Financial and Economic Management(WAIFEM) in Nigeria. I have also attended technical experts meetings globally; including South Africa, Algeria, Ethiopia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Ivory Coast, etc.

In addition, I have held several positions at the Ministry since I joined the cohort in 2005; rising from a mere Bookkeeper position to Financial Analyst, then onwards to being the Assistant Director for Financial Reporting Unit in the Office of the Comptroller & Accountant General in 2008. While serving in that capacity I introduced a multi-layer reporting template for cash expenditure report to include Forex transactions and bank reversals tracking. A report which is still widely use today by the International Monetary Fund as part of the country’s Extended Credit Facilities (ECF) conditionality. Having demonstrated exceptional professionalism and commitment, I was promoted to the position of Principal Financial Analyst assigned to the Office of the Deputy Minister for Expenditure & Debt Management. My role included preparation, analysis and implementation of the national budget of the Government of Liberia. During my tenure, I developed templates used in monthly reporting on budgetary expenditures for line Ministries, Agencies and Commissions. I Monitors cash balances at the Central Bank of Liberia and compiled expenditure reports for fiscal policy decision making. My participation in internal and external Debt relief analysis helped Liberia to reaching the HIPC point for debt waiver and cancellation. I also served as Economist for Macroeconomic Analysis and Forecasting Section at the Macro-Fiscal Analysis Unit. While serving in that capacity, I was one of the fresh brains behind the introduction of the Annual Economic Review (AER) for Liberia in 2012. The last time such a report was ever produce for Liberia was 1976. The AER research report critically analyses the real, external, fiscal and monetary sectors of the economy as well as defining social dimension and its existence during a given year. The AER since 2012 is now used by donors and other stakeholders as trigger for budget supports and other in- kind gesture.

Regarding my extra activities, I enjoy basketball, soccer and parties.

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