Q & A with Laurel Ostfield, Head of Communications and Development for the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank

The Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada is pleased to host a private roundtable discussion with the Head of Communications and Development for the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), Laurel Ostfield, on April 18, 2018. Laurel will discuss how the new multilateral development bank aims to create a better tomorrow for billions of people by investing in sustainable infrastructure in Asia and beyond.

Prior to her engagement at the Foundation's offices in Vancouver, APF Canada had an opportunity to ask Laurel a few key questions on the role of AIIB in global development, and Canada's future.

Q: What activities and initiatives of the AIIB in 2018 and beyond will set it apart as a powerhouse of global development?

A: AIIB aims to improve social and economic development in Asia and beyond. We believe by investing in sustainable infrastructure, we can build the railways, ports, water treatment plants, and energy that Asia needs. But we also know we cannot do it alone. It will take co-operation and collaboration with other multilateral development banks, governments, and private companies if we are going to help Asia reach its potential. To that end, we are actively building partnerships and our internal capacity to make these kinds of investments.

Q:  Why is the AIIB important to Canada and Canadians, and what should government and business be doing to better inform Canadians about the economic opportunities it presents?

A: AIIB is still the new kid on the block, so it's important to get the word out that we practice universal procurement and universal recruitment. That means Canadian business can bid on contracts for projects we fund, and Canadian professionals can apply to work at AIIB. We also have internships and a young professionals program for Canadians early in their careers.

Q: How is AIIB leveraging its own Internship Program to better prepare young Canadians for the global economy of tomorrow? 

A: Our interns will get hands-on experience working at AIIB. They will work directly with our professionals on projects or be a part of a team that is building our institutional capacity. A new multilateral development bank does not come around every day, so this is a rare opportunity to be part of it from the very beginning.

Q: As the leaders and decision-makers of tomorrow, millennials are an increasingly vital cohort on the national and international stage; how does the AIIB view this demographic and include it meaningfully in its strategic planning?

A: As a new institution, we have been actively speaking with all of our staff as we work to shape AIIB's work culture. Within that process, we are very mindful of the importance of creating a work environment that responds to the needs of different demographics, including millennials, women and staff from 36 different nationalities. It's still early in the process for us, but rest assured, we have been working to understand the best way to engage our next generation of leaders.

The views expressed here are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada.

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