What I learned from the World Bank: Chevening Alumnus shares his secrets to a successful career in finance

Since his Chevening year in 2002, alumnus Marlon Rawlins has built a global career at the World Bank. We find out Marlon’s top tips for any Chevener looking to achieve success in the financial sector.

Today, Chevening Alumnus Marlon Rawlins works as a Senior Financial Sector Specialist at the World Bank. He specialises in strengthening the financial sectors of Eastern and Southern Africa, and he enjoys his job.

“Given the significant development challenges faced by this region of Africa, my work gives me the opportunity to make a lasting impact.”

Marlon supports projects that have a positive impact on people’s lives, from poverty reduction and sustainable economic growth to improving access to financial services. Working at the World Bank, Marlon has the opportunity to collaborate with some of the top experts in the financial sector today.

On any given day, I learn something new simply by interacting with the best and brightest in the field.”

However, Marlon recognises that a successful and rewarding career in finance cannot be built overnight. In the 20 years since completing his Chevening Scholarship, Marlon has had to make some smart decisions to get to where he is today.

So, to help us find out the secrets to his success, we asked Marlon to share his top 5 pieces of advice for any Chevener looking to develop a fulfilling career in finance.

1. Build a career that transcends borders.

The world is your oyster, so embrace the limitless possibilities it has to offer. Be open to the idea of living and working in different countries and cultures, as it will broaden your horizons and provide new opportunities for personal and professional growth. People who are mobile tend to gain a richer perspective on the world around them.

2. Make the most of your network.

Building a strong professional network is key to staying up to date with industry developments and supporting career growth. Be sure to leverage your Chevening network, which gives you access to some of the brightest future leaders in the world.

3. Challenge conventional wisdom.

Don’t be afraid to challenge conventional industry wisdom and bring new ideas to the table. The sector needs innovators to push it forward, as this is the only way to create positive change. Be proactive in sharing your insights by publishing your work and contributing to industry discourse.

4. Remember the human face of finance.

While the financial industry often seems focused on profits, it is, at its core, about helping people achieve their goals and improve their lives. As you progress in your career, prioritise ethically and socially responsible practices. Consider how your work can benefit society as a whole and strive to make a positive impact in your community and beyond.

5. Commit to lifelong learning.

Given the dynamic nature of the financial sector, continuous learning is essential. Look into finance-related certifications and qualifications to widen your skillsets. It’s also worth taking the time to develop soft skills such as networking, public speaking, and conflict resolution. These skills will help you build strong relationships with colleagues, clients, and stakeholders, and are increasingly important in today’s globalised world.


Despite his career success, Marlon admits that, like everyone, he has faced challenges and setbacks along the way. What’s crucial, he argues, is how we learn from these challenges and use them as motivation to keep driving forward.

“Challenges provide opportunities to discover our strengths and weaknesses, push our boundaries, and grow beyond what we thought was possible. They teach us resilience and force us to step outside of our comfort zone, which is where true growth occurs.”

Lastly, Marlon emphasises the importance of building a career that you find personally meaningful.

Pursue your career with commitment and find meaning in the work you do. It’s easy to stay motivated when you’re genuinely passionate about your job – you’ve got to enjoy the ride.”

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