Mamta Kaushal ’02What is your role now?
I am currently the Advisor to the Director of Operations in the World Bank’s Office of the Integrity Vice Presidency, which is the investigative unit. We investigate fraud or corruption as part of the World Bank’s sanctions process. If we find evidence, we can take those parties through the process, which is like an administrative court. We also feed lessons learned from investigations back into Bank operations so that we can try to prevent similar misconduct on future bank-financed projects. Ultimately, identifying and combating corruption is one of the tools for achieving greater development effectiveness.
My current role involves many responsibilities. I am involved in reviewing settlement agreements under the sanctions system to ensure proposed terms don’t violate the regulations under which the World Bank operates, I help refer cases to appropriate governmental bodies where the World Bank has determined fraud or corruption but lacks jurisdiction over any participants, and I do my share of policy work reviewing new innovations in international development and harmonizing the World Bank’s policies with other multinational banking organizations such as the Inter-American Development Bank or Asian Development Bank.
How did you get to your current position?
Before law school, I interned at the World Bank while attending George Washington University. I was interested in development and poverty alleviation, and I was interested to know why an organization whose stated goal is poverty alleviation got such a bad rap. One of the things I discovered was that a lot of people at the World Bank had good intentions, but there was a perceived accountability issue. What were the ramifications if something went wrong? Was the Bank taking action if something went wrong? And who knew about it if it did? It looked to me like more needed to be done with accountability.
My experience as an intern with the World Bank set me on a path toward Fordham Law. After graduation, I took a position with a law firm for three years but wanted to get back into public interest work. My segue back into public interest was thanks to Martin Flaherty, founding co-director of the Leitner Center for International Law and Justice. At the time he was the chair of the Committee on International Human Rights for the Association of the Bar of the City of New York. I had joined the committee and I decided to quit my job with the firm and work full time to help the committee with a human rights project in India. I travelled to India for a month as the pre-team on the project, then worked with the lawyers who came over. When that was over, I decided to move to Washington and try my luck.
Shortly after moving to Washington, D.C., I met an attorney with the World Bank at an ABA networking function who asked me to volunteer on a project about the effect of international trade on women. But the World Bank doesn’t let you volunteer. So I went from a one-month contract, to extensions on that contract, to eventually arriving in the Integrity department, which had been established since my internship and was the kind of accountability that I thought was lacking back then.
Can you recall any particular challenges or success stories in your career?
I work in a development organization whose purpose is poverty alleviation. Corruption can impede us from achieving that goal. I think publicly debarring entities that have engaged in corruption is an important deterrent to others who may seek to divert development dollars away from development outcomes. It shows that the Bank is serious about its anti-corruption efforts. In that sense, I have been lucky enough to have participated in the sanctions cases and settlements of some of our most impactful investigations. I’ve also had the privilege to work in a dynamic environment where we develop new and innovative ways of how to partner with other investigative units in our common efforts to root out corruption. When engaging with people from all over the world, how we communicate is key. Our success has been the result of cultivating relationships of trust and being willing to be flexible and think outside of the box.
How did being a Stein Scholar influence your career?
Being in the Stein Scholars Program, surrounded by great professors who have this enormous intellectual knowledge and successful and motivated backgrounds in public interest, I learned that you can follow your passion. The faculty was so encouraging and enthusiastic. Having that as a base is extremely helpful. You don’t feel so crazy when you’re taking a route that your fellow students aren’t on.
What advice would you offer current Stein Scholars?
Right now, if you don’t know exactly what you want to do, take advantage of everything Fordham Law has to offer: the brown bag lunches, the speakers, Stein Scholars alumni. You’re in a learning mode, so even going to programs you aren’t sure are your thing may spark an interest and you never know who you’ll meet.
After graduation don’t follow the “traditional” path if that’s not what appeals to you. In my experience, the people who are happiest are the ones who really follow their gut. Success follows happiness. If you trust yourself to know what makes you happy, what drives you, success will follow.