Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
MPA

Marcus Burke MPA ’17

Marcus Burke MPA ’17

World Economic Forum, Geneva, Switzerland
Inclusive Growth Project Specialist
Hometown: Alexandria, Virginia

How did the MPA program prepare you for your current position?

I was personally interested in economics, statistics, public policy and data analytics, and the MPA allowed me to further explore those interests. During the panel interview for my current position, I was asked questions on inclusivity, productivity and inequality, and was able to draw heavily on what I learned in Hard Policy, an elective, as well as my econometrics and impact evaluation courses. Coming into the MPA program, I had an intermediate level of statistics and data-cleaning skills; the quantitative classes helped me refine those skills, which I consistently use in my work at the World Economic Forum. I recently collaborated on the Forum’s 2018 Inclusive Development Index where I gathered and analyzed statistical data compiled by the World Bank, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and other organizations to demonstrate how countries need to use a diverse spectrum of policy incentives and institutional mechanisms to make economic growth more socially inclusive without dampening incentives to work, save and invest.

With over 7 years of work experience and a clear vision of what I wanted from the program, I found the Watson MPA to be extremely transformative.

How did your consultancy serve as a springboard for your career?

My consultancy at the OECD, where I analyzed socioeconomic outcomes for people with access to justice and legal aid, is definitely relevant to my position at the Forum. Studying the relationship between unequal access to the law and the barriers it creates to economic participation—especially for historically marginalized populations—is one element of inclusive growth.

How does your work contribute to the Common Good?

I’m analyzing sustainable and scalable public and private-sector practices that foster the twin objectives of enhancing productivity while delivering social impact. These case studies will provide valuable lessons for policymakers, companies, and other stakeholders interested in adapting approaches to their own circumstances. One of the first practices I worked on dealt with access to civil justice in Canada, where the average hourly rate for a lawyer with 10 years of experience is approximately 32 times the minimum wage. The Province of British Columbia developed an innovative and affordable platform to resolve legal disputes online and out of court in order to ensure that cost or time would not be an impediment to asserting one’s legal rights. Another case study I worked on explores using basic mobile phones to provide unbanked populations with access to payment, transfer savings and salary services. The goal is to feature these case studies on a hub that will provide concrete solutions to make global business and policy practices more transparent, inclusive and sustainable.

Considering the World Economic Forum is the platform for public-private cooperation, it’s meaningful to examine ways to reduce economic inequalities and bring all the relevant stakeholders together to have discussions they wouldn’t have otherwise.