4 Nov 2015
MILE Alumni Profiles: Sainabou Taal
"[On the MILE] I met people from all walks of life – this was the most valuable learning experience."
A former government trade economist in Gambia, Sainabou Taal embarked on the MILE programme in 2011 to further her career in international trade policy development. In this interview she talks about how an internship at the WTO was a springboard to her current role as a policy analyst specialised in Aid for Trade issues.
Last year you took up a new job at the WTO. Can you tell us about that? I have been in my job at the WTO for over a year now and so much as already happened. I am currently a trade policy analyst in the Aid for Trade Unit of the Development Division. This small unit comprises four staff whose main focus is to implement the WTO biennial Aid for Trade Work Programme. The
Aid for Trade initiative was founded ten years ago during the sixth WTO Ministerial Conference with an aim to support developing countries, particularly least developed countries build the supply-side capacity and trade-related infrastructure they need to benefit from the multilateral trading system. The current work programme and the theme of our 5th Global Review of Aid for Trade this year was "Reducing Trade Costs for Inclusive Sustainable Growth". Discussions have been based on how initiatives to reduce trade costs can positively contribute to the recently adopted Addis Ababa Action Agenda and the Agenda 2030. What direction did your career take after you graduated from the MILE 12 programme? Upon completing MILE 12, I commenced my internship at the WTO Office of the then Deputy Director General in charge of development where I began working on Aid for Trade issues at the multilateral level. I subsequently joined the Aid for Trade Unit as a short-term economic affairs officer. Thereafter, I worked as an international consultant on a trade-related project with the United Nations Department for Economic and Social Affairs. During this time I interviewed for my current post and received an offer six months into my consultancy. What for you were the highlights of the MILE programme? The people. The professors, the WTI community, the people of Bern and most importantly, my fellow classmates. There was such a rich culture in that room. I met people from all walks of life – this was the most valuable learning experience. I know wherever I go; I can always find a MILEr. Of course, I can't forget the late nights and weekends completing assignments. If I am ever asked whether I can work under pressure during an interview I will respond – "have you ever heard of the MILE?" How do you feel the course equipped you for later professional life? Apart from learning how to manage time under pressure and working with a multitude of cultures, the MILE was particularly useful in preparing me for work at the WTO. Covering all WTO agreements provided me with sufficient knowledge to be thrown into various tasks my colleagues and supervisors desired. I have used the interdisciplinary approach to the MILE as a tool to analyse trade policies by weighing legal, economic and political economy perspectives. What are your career goals and ambitions? I would like to continue to work on the trade and development nexus. Where this takes me later in life, I don't know, but I am not worried. What I do know is how I would like to end my career: coming from a least developed country, I would like to say that I contributed to countries and peoples using trade to get out of poverty. For now, I am really enjoying my current role and I believe that I am headed in the right direction. If you have graduated from the MILE programme and would like to share your story, please contact the