Francesco De Simone is the Modernization of the State Specialist in Kingston, Jamaica for the International Development Bank (IDB) and previously served as the Technical Advisor and Administrator of the IDB Transparency Fund. Francesco has Master’s Degree in Political Science from the Universitá Orientale in Naples, Italy, and received his Master’s in Latin American & Hemispheric Studies from the Elliott School in 2009. He has published on a variety of topics, from anti-corruption practices of donors to transparency policies in the education sector, and from international laws against bribery to procurement monitoring strategies. Before joining the IDB, Francesco worked at the U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Center, in Bergen, Norway, Transparency International (TI) in the U.S., the Office of the Italian Permanent Representative to the Organization of American States (OAS) and as a KYC investigator in the private sector.
Describe your current position and what are your primary responsibilities?
I am currently the Inter-American Development Bank’s Modernization of the State Specialist in Kingston, Jamaica. My division of the IDB supports countries in Latin America and the Caribbean in strengthening their institutions and reforming their public sector. I am currently the team leader for projects focusing on a variety of issues ranging from citizen security to shared government services, and from anti-money laundering to police reform. My day-to-day work focuses mostly on supporting the Jamaican Government in implementing these projects.
What part of your experience at the Elliott School best prepared you for your current position? (Specific classes, student orgs, career development office, etc.)
When I joined the Elliott School I already had a graduate degree in Political Science from Italy, and, especially in the beginning, I had a lot of doubts and second thoughts as to whether getting another MA made sense. But as the semesters progressed, I clearly saw the benefits of joining the program. First of all, the Latin American & Hemispheric Studies program, and I believe most Elliott School programs, was designed in a way that was very much geared towards the job market – in terms of skills, approach, environment – which is precisely what I needed. Secondly, the career services were just terrific; not only did it open up a lot of opportunities, but also put me in a position to be able to make the best of them.
How does what you’re doing now compare to what you thought you would be doing when you first started your program at the Elliott School?
I consider myself very lucky in that I ended up working in a sector that is very close to what I had studied – political science, and specifically governance. When I started the LAHSP program I was very interested in security issues, particularly organized crime. I ended up working for many years on anti-corruption, which I think has many ties with that area. And I was also able to maintain a regional focus on Latin America for most of my career, although that has never been a straitjacket.
How do you feel about pineapple on pizza?
Interesting that you should ask this! As an Italian from the south, who grew up about 40 miles form Naples, the birthplace of pizza, I think pineapple on pizza is a monstrosity. All pineapples should be removed from all pizzas. Effective Immediately. And subsequently erased from menus. Seriously, who came up with the idea?
The #ElliottProud series highlights Elliott School MA alumni and seeks to answer common questions posed by prospective, current, and incoming students. The views expressed by alumni profiled do not necessarily represent those of organizations they work for, are affiliated with, or the Elliott School of International Affairs. For more information or to submit questions, e-mail email@example.com.