Jim Yong Kim has had a big day.
As for emerging economies that hoped the World Bank would break a 66-year tradition and pick a non-American to head the key international economic institution?
Not so much.
The Dartmouth College President — and US President Barack Obama's choice — beat out Nigerian finance minister Ngozi Okonju-Iwela, as well as former Colombian finance minister Antonio Ocampo to become the World Bank's new president.
It was reportedly the first time the World Bank's board considered more than one nominee, as the spot traditionally goes to an American — though the South Korean-born Kim is the second World Bank chief to be born outside the US (former president James Wolfensohn was born in Australia and later immigrated to the US).
The Wall Street Journal landed a brief interview with Kim today following the news. (Read the full interview here).
Here's what the new World Bank President had to say about the historic challenge he received from Nigeria's and Colombia's candidates, particularly as it relates to the legitimacy of his own candidacy:
"You know, I’ve been now to so many different countries. I’ve both been listening and I’ve been presenting my credentials, and we’ve gotten a lot of support," Kim told the Journal. "The ministers and the heads of central banks and others I’ve spoke with have been very supportive. I’ve presented my credentials as a development specialist, as someone who has spent his whole life working on, investing in humans in order to enable them to go down the path of growth. I am quite sure that once I am in office on July 1 that we’ll have a very strong consensus around moving forward at the bank."
And what will those priorities be?
Preparing the way for economic growth around the world.
"In every single country I’ve been to they are really hoping private-sector growth can happen quickly so that jobs can be created," Kim told the Journal. "I think there’s a very strong sense that job creation, especially for youth, is an extremely important issue and we’ve heard more than once a mention of the Arab Spring and the importance of economic growth that is inclusive and creates jobs."
Godspeed, and good luck, Mr. Kim.
The world economy — which Kim pointedly declined to comment on today — is going to need it.