Eye on Alumni: Palwasha Mirbacha '11


Palwasha Mirbacha (ITFD '11) is an Education Specialist with the World Bank Group in Kabul, Afghanistan. The Master's from the Barcelona GSE helped her seal the deal on her dream job. 

Palwasha Mirbacha is a graduate of the Barcelona GSE Master's Program in International Trade, Finance, and Development (Class of 2011). She has a Bachelor’s in Economics and International Relations from Simmons College (United States). Palwasha has been engaged in the area of development for over a decade. For the past six years she has occupied the position of Education Specialist with the World Bank Group. In this capacity, she is managing a multi-million profile in tertiary education, engaging with key sectorial ministries like the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Higher Education and Ministry of Labor of Afghanistan. She writes extensively and leads scientific research studies in the field of development to facilitate and influence good policy practices for improving service delivery and equipping the nation with better human capital in order to pave the path for young Afghans as more capable citizens.

In her personal capacity, Ms. Mirbacha coaches a group of young Afghan professionals from different walks of life as volunteers who work for the education of vulnerable children in orphanages, shelters and remote villages of the country, as well as developing children’s literature, in order to facilitate innovative educational material and approaches to mitigate challenges commonly prevailing in learning process of children. Together they aim to making it fun for the children to to learn and grow while mobilizing Afghan youth to take their part as informed citizens in the lives of those less fortunate. Her aim is to close the staggering gap in human development in her society and the country as a whole. In the future, she is determined to expand her work and also engage in area of special education as a philanthropist.

Tell us about your most memorable project with the World Bank so far.

My most memorable project has been working with a PhD candidate from Turin University on a RCT in Afghanistan. When designing the study and its interventions for this RCT, I had to go back to my course notes from the Barcelona GSE and refer to some of my readings. I’m leading a multi-disciplinary team for this project and its mid-line and upcoming end-line surveys. I am happy to be leading this team with solid knowledge of RCTs from course work in BGSE, combining it with my knowledge of country and cultural context for the rigrous design and implementation of this most exciting RCT. I look forward to leading the policy level dialogues with decision makers based on evidence and scientific findings. 

How did the Barcelona GSE and the ITFD Program prepare you for this type of work?

The diverse community of Barcelona GSE prepared me for the real world of work in organizations like the World Bank Group, where one works across teams countries and themes. The Master's degree program and its conceptional framework that touched on key development topics from finance to development education and growth models all helped me see the world of development in a much more holistic way and connect the dots for how various instruments and interventions play integral roles in the economic growth of a country as a whole. 

Studying and living in dynamic and lively city of Barcelona opened my mind to the world and its wonders. I felt privileged for having the opportunity to gain all this knowledge, and as a result I felt obliged to give back to my community both professionally and personally. I have a career moving forward and feel content with the work and service I render, and I do my best to reach to the vulnerable and needy segment of society.  

Is this more or less what you pictured yourself doing after the master program?

Absolutely. It had been a long-term dream to get a job with the WBG for which I must have at least have a Master’s degree and sound knowledge of the field to secure an entry-level job. One of the interview panel members knew about UPF and when I told him about the Barcelona GSE, he automatically recognized the value of my education. He was astonished to find a graduate of these prestigious universities in Kabul for recruitment. It sealed the deal for me with the World Bank Group.  

What hints or advice would you give to current students who want to follow this career path?

Believe in the value of an education from the Barcelona Graduate School of Economics. Your employer and specially those in the area of Economics will know the value of the education you receive, so after graduation go ahead apply for your dream job and go with confidence.

About Palwasha Mirbacha

Connect with Palwasha on Twitter

More Eye on Alumni Interviews

Master's Program in International Trade, Finance, and Development