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Kerrie Law tackles pocket dilemmas at the EBRD

Kerrie Law tackles pocket dilemmas at the EBRD

 June 09, 2020

Working for the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) offers exciting opportunities for those interested in economics and making an impact on the world around them.

EBRD is an international financial institution that supports projects in over 30 countries - and its women executives are key to the bank’s important work.

Where Women Work took the opportunity to speak with one of the women driving positive change within the bank and externally. Kerrie Law works in Associate Corporate Strategy and is co-host for EBRD’s Pocket Dilemmas Podcast.

Choosing to work with EBRD


Kerrie was inspired to work for the EBRD right from the first moment she heard about the bank.

“During one of my first weeks at graduate school at London School of Economics, I went to a lecture on how the private sector can help foster development and contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals,” she recalls. “It just so happens that EBRD President, Suma Chakrabarti was the guest of honour. It was the first time I’d heard about the bank and its mission—to develop open and sustainable market economies, with a focus on the private sector, in countries committed to, and applying, democratic principles. It really spoke to me, as I had just left the private sector and was searching for a career that felt more impactful.”

EBRD president Suma

As Kerrie progressed through her studies and started her career search, she remembers feeling “a bit like Goldilocks” — the public sector didn’t quite fit for her, the private sector wasn’t exactly what she was looking for, but the intersection of the two was just right.

Working for a bank with a strong focus on gender equality

Immersed in an organisation that consistently supports women’s advancement is also of high appeal to Kerrie. The bank delivers many progressive initiatives and programmes that support the economic and social advancement of women. Director of Gender and Economic Inclusion, Barbara Rambousek, says: “Only economies that benefit their people are successful economies" - an ethos Kerrie adopts within her own mind-set and work. Additionally, EBRD’s Chief Economist, Beata Javorci often highlights the economic and strategic impact on women across the regions the bank operates. Kerrie also credits a lot of her inspiration to Alexia Latortue, the Managing Director of Corporate Strategy, who Kerrie describes as a strong leader and thinker in the field.

Kerrie’s job, its key challenges and perks

So what does Kerrie do on a daily basis for her job? She describes her days as being constantly varied - which is something she really enjoys about her work.

“I work half of the week in Corporate Strategy and the other half in the Environment and Sustainability Department. My focus in Corporate Strategy centers around technology and what this means for transition impact in our countries of operation. I also co-lead EBRD’s Mega Trends Series,” Kerrie explains. “In 2018 we dug into the Future of Work, in 2019 Liveable Cities, and in 2020 we are looking at Accelerating the Digital Transition — which is especially relevant given the global COVID-19 pandemic and working from home.”c

In the Environment and Sustainability Department, Kerrie works in the Green Economy Transition Clearing House, as well as being involved in innovative projects around low carbon transition and digitalisation.

“My concentration in this team is more operationally focused, where I get amazing exposure to the bank’s projects, specifically the rigor around green financing,” she says. “Then, of course, I have the Pocket Dilemmas Podcast. I think the most important skill needed for my work is the ability to bridge networks across the bank to connect historically compartmentalised functions. This helps to develop new forms of collaboration and cooperation — essential ingredients for the type of work I do.”

Work that embraces change and opportunities

Given that the world is in the middle of a global pandemic, the importance of technology cannot be overstated - and Kerrie finds this to be an integral element of her work.

“The kind of technological shift we are seeing is a challenge, a change, and it’s also an opportunity. Countries, industries, and companies will need to look beyond old strategies and develop new digital business models to stay connected, relevant, and functioning,” she says.

In Corporate Strategy, Kerrie’s core role is to help formulate the overall strategy and direction for the EBRD, by working closely with managers from across the bank, as well as shareholders. Her team also supports the implementation of the strategy, tracks long-term trends, devises responses to major new challenges, and leads engagement with international financial institutions.

“Our aim is to make sure the EBRD remains a relevant and effective partner, with excellent delivery of its transition mandate,” Kerrie comments. “Since working from home, I think the biggest challenge for my role has been trying to figure out how to maintain my network across the bank virtually. Everyone is still trying to find the right balance (and the strongest wifi signal) between productivity and self-care — including myself.”

Working on the Pocket Dilemmas podcast

EBRD Kerrie Law pocket dilemmas

As mentioned, an exciting element of Kerrie’s work sees her co-hosting the EBRD’s Pocket Dilemmas Podcast. She shares some insight into its main aims, discussion points and the reception it has received.

“Our podcast touches on current political and economic challenges facing our world, but in a more relaxed kind of way. EBRD’s Director of Communications, Jonathan Charles, and I leverage the podcast to discuss current and topical issues such as COVID-19’s impact on populism or migration,” says Kerrie.

“I really like working with Jonathan, so at the beginning of each episode, we just talk amongst ourselves, almost like having a cup of coffee with a friend. We strive to contribute to thought leadership on each subject — which is also where our amazing guests come in. We hope that the discussions will raise important policy questions and elevate key areas of work for the bank and our countries of operation.”

The concept of each podcast is based around a dilemma — Kerrie and Jonathan grapple with the topic, then invite their guests to help them delve further into the subject.

“It’s a great opportunity to work with people at the forefront of thinking in the development economics and political spheres,” Kerrie enthuses. “We have recorded episodes with the likes of Jason Furman, former Obama Chair of Economic Advisers; Tim Judah, Economist’s Western Balkans correspondent; and Irina Velichko, Chief Engineer working on Chernobyl Plant, where she joined us from live for one of the podcasts.”

Kerrie also finds that the Podcast is a great way to engage internal audiences and work closer with colleagues with whom she normally might not necessarily collaborate with.

So how did the Pocket Dilemmas Podcast series opportunity come about for Kerrie?

“I had been working with our Communications Department a lot when launching Corporate Strategy’s Mega Trends Series on the Future of Work. They are such a creative and agile team, so it was fun to bounce ideas off of them and brainstorm different angles of the Series,” she says. “One day, I got an email asking me to come up with a dilemma of my choice and discuss it with Jonathan. I picked the ethical use of algorithms in government, a subject I studied in depth while at the LSE. Jonathan and I sparred over the topic and next thing I knew, I was sitting next to him in the Pocket Dilemma Podcast as co-host. I’m sure glad I didn’t skip over that email!

Kerrie also shares how listeners have responded to the podcast.

“Some people ask for explanations, while others invite us to collaborate. The best part for me, however, is the response we have had internally. Since launching the podcast last year, people at the bank actively engage with me on recent topics or email me with new ideas — it’s really touching and exciting to see how engaged people are with the content,“ she explains.

Kerrie offers a taste of some of the important topics the podcast has explored so far.

“There are so many interesting ones,” says Kerrie. “To name a few, we look at: Should algorithms rule the world; Bridging the Pay Gap; Megatrends, is the future already here; Age against the machine and the future of work; How to make Chernobyl safe for the future; Can open border survive the pandemic? What does the coronavirus pandemic mean for gender equality? I don’t want to spoil the key takeaways, so I recommend readers download the podcast.”

The bank is open to exploring new topics, so they invite their audience to send ideas via dilemma@ebrd.com or #EBRDdilemmas #PocketDilemmas @EBRD on Twitter. Pocket Dilemmas is available on iTunes, Spotify and Soundcloud.

EBRD London HQ

Advice for further women looking to join EBRD

With such great experience under her belt, Kerrie shares some career advice for further women looking to work for the EBRD and speaks highly about her employer.

“I would highly recommend more women apply to EBRD. Our organization is always looking for bright and curious minds to drive the conversation forward,” she comments. “Speaking up and taking initiative are incredibly important at the bank, and a uniquely female perspective is crucial for productive and creative teams.”

Managing work and family responsibilities

Kerrie recently welcomed a new baby boy and adds that she has been pleased with the EBRD's approach to maternity leave and support for new parents.

“The EBRD was very open to ensuring that my maternity leave and return to my job worked well for me. As consistent for many returning mothers, I required flexibility. The bank was fully supportive of me working from home on occasion when we were all still going to the office prior to the pandemic. And now, consistently working from home due to the crisis, the bank has been incredibly understanding and flexible with regards to managing work without childcare,” she comments. “I have also found it helpful to lean on other parents during this period, which is why the EBRD Family Network has been a wonderful addition to my work life. It’s a platform where you can share experiences, information, and ideas — including activities to do with your children while working from home. It has been a real lifesaver.”

Alongside parenthood and work, Kerrie also manages to ensure she still has time to pursue her interests. In closing, she says: “I love being in nature — hiking, skiing, camping, fishing, laying in the grass with a good book — these are all happy places for me. And now as a mother, I get to rediscover nature through the eyes of my son, which has been really special over the last few months.”

Join Kerrie in a rewarding career at the EBRD

Join talented women like Kerrie at the EBRD and take part in exciting projects that challenge real issues and make a positive impact on the world.

Research the EBRD's latest job vacancies and see where your skills and interests might take you.


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Disclosure: Where Women Work researches and publishes insightful evidence about how its paid member organizations support women's equality.

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