Fannie Delavelle on her legacy at the World Bank Youth Summit
Fannie Delavelle is an Analyst at the World Bank Gender Innovation Lab in Washington D.C., and the Manager & Co-Chair of the World Bank Youth Summit 2018 on Human Capital. Since joining the World Bank in 2017, she has worked on leveraging disruptive technologies like blockchain and 3D printing to make international trade and finance more inclusive. Previously, she was the trade and public policy attache at the Embassy of France in the United States for two years and worked at the European Commission on a sustainability initiative in developing countries. Fannie graduated from the London School of Economics and Sciences Po Paris in 2014, with two Master’s degrees in International Political Economy and in International Relations.
Q: How did the World Bank Youth Summit begin and how did you get involved?
A: Real change starts from the ground up, and the Youth Summit sows the seeds of change by bringing youth leaders together to give them the knowledge, the skills and the network they need to make a difference in their communities when they go back home. I got involved as a volunteer in 2016, simply because a good friend of mine was the Manager of the Youth Summit at the time and needed additional help. I wasn’t even working at the World Bank yet at the time but I sneaked my way into the Youth Summit team! I then became Partnerships Co-Lead in 2017 and was elected Manager in 2018. I joined because I shared the vision of the young professionals who had created the Youth Summit in 2013: a vision of a world where youth from all around the planet would come together to join forces and ensure that our fates are not determined not by our gender, our country of birth, or our race, but where we would each have the opportunity to pursue our highest aspirations. As the largest gathering of youth at the World Bank Group, the Youth Summit aims to strengthen our collective sense of purpose and ambition.
Q: What will you take away from your experience Co-Chairing the event?
A: My main take away was a simple leadership lesson: Think big. Set yourself a target. Then think bigger. Say, for instance, that you’ve set a target of organizing an event for 400 youth leaders. What if you could also make it accessible digitally to thousands of people worldwide who do not have the means to travel all the way to World Bank HQ? If you set yourself a doable target, you’ll get an ordinary result. Set yourself a target that goes beyond your expectations of what you can achieve, and you’ll get an exceptional result. Of course, this requires the humility to recognize when you are not on track to achieving a target and to prioritize your goals -unless you want to be the star of the next Fyre Netflix documentary. Did I reach all the targets that I had set at the beginning of my tenure as Manager? Absolutely not. But by striving for the ideal, I achieved a lot more than I would have achieved by aiming for the doable.
Q: Who are the attendees, where are they from, and what would you say is the biggest value they get from the event?
A: In 2018, we received 1,500 applications to attend the Summit and we have 500 talented youth leaders come to Washington DC from 89 countries. Beyond the event room, we had over 10,000 viewers tuning in through our live stream from all around the world, and we reached close to 4 million people via social media. I was particularly delighted to have over 60% of women in the audience. All the attendees had 3 qualities: they were all smart, bold, and transforming the world around them. For example, one of our attendees had created an automated data management and reminder system for immunization for mothers in Africa powered by USSD and Voice Technology, with the aim of increasing demand for vaccination services and improving the healthcare infrastructure. Another one uses blockchain technology to create a “Digital Backpack CV” which makes it possible to verify, share and match credentials, references, and skills, and links qualified talent to employers and increases the visibility of an untapped market segment.
Q: You come from a background of research, political science, economics, tech/innovation, and strategy–how does this support your work with youth and gender equality? Where are you headed with this work?
A: I definitely have a very diverse resume -I have worked/studied in 5 countries, in sectors ranging from climate change to migration, trade, new technologies and now gender. I have learned lessons from each experience that have served me well in the next ones, enabling me to put forward more innovative ideas than someone who would have worked in only one sector all these years. Technology/innovation and gender have a special place in my heart among these topics. I see the huge potential of new technologies in empowering women economically and socially, and ensuring that technologies are developed with a social impact in mind -rather than with a commercial goal and social impact coming as an afterthought- will be one of my key goals in the medium term.
Q: What’s your philosophy on developing youth as global citizens?
A: Building our capital as global citizens is a collective effort as much as an individual one. We have a responsibility to ourselves to achieve our highest aspirations, but we also have a responsibility to each other. Helping one another up the ladder is particularly important for women, who often hold beliefs that are disempowering: “I’m not good enough. I’ll never make it. He’ll look after me”. It is key to take the locus of control back to ourselves, and being supportive of one another can go a long way in our journey to self-affirmation.
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