Beats and Bankable Projects: What’s on your playlist?

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By Gloria Mwaniga Odary

When Mouhanad Atta, 33, is not screening green finance opportunities at IFC, he is probably swimming with whale sharks or jumping off 50-foot cliffs near waterfalls. Atta, who loves to explore new countries and cultures, picks his travel destinations based on the adventures they have to offer. He joined IFC in August 2020, as an investment officer with Upstream Financial Institutions Group (FIG) for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), and is based in Cairo, Egypt.

We asked him about his work, his superpower, and his playlist.

Five Fun Facts about Mouhanad Atta

  • Where you are from? Egypt
  • What languages do you speak? Arabic, English
  • Who’s the development celebrity you’d like to meet? David Attenborough
  • What’s a cultural reference that symbolizes your generation? Sony Walkman
  • What’s one thing that people think about you that’s not true? That I’m in my twenties.

What’s an average day at work like for you?

I start off my day by preparing a big breakfast that powers me through the day, which I then enjoy while reading through the morning edition of Enterprise Press (news roundup) and going through my to-do list for the day.

My day usually comprises a mix of meetings to explore opportunities to create bankable projects within the MENA region, particularly screening opportunities with a green finance angle. These could be as early on as evaluating interesting concepts, exploring collaborations within the World Bank Group (WBG) or putting together an early-stage seed or a more advanced- stage project.

How do you spend your time off work?

Once the day is over, no matter how late that is, I head to the gym to clear my head and get ready for the next day. I used to swim regularly and even went on to compete as a teenager, so exercising has become a daily routine.

Exploring new countries and cultures is something my wife and I love to do, and we pick our travel destinations based on the adventures they have to offer—whether that’s swimming with whale sharks or jumping off a 50-foot cliff by the waterfalls.

Atta swimming with a whale shark.
Atta swimming with a whale shark. Photo: Courtesy of Mouhanad Atta

What is your favorite thing about your career?

My favorite thing about my career is being able to develop projects that not only benefit the people and countries that we serve, but also our planet. Learning from professionals across the world about successful experiences from other countries is one of the great things about having to work at IFC. This gives me the opportunity to work with colleagues across the WBG to bridge gaps faced by the private sector and promote investment opportunities to support critical sectors in developing countries. IFC is overall a great fit for me.

What’s the most interesting project you’re currently working on?

That would be the 30 by 30 Zero Upstream project covering Egypt, South Africa, Philippines and Mexico. The project, an IFC-World Bank collaboration, aims to green the financial sector through a policy, regulatory, capital market and financial institutions approach. This project will support countries in achieving their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) through aligning financial flows, as well as supporting the financial sector’s resilience to climate risks. I’m grateful to be a part of this project, which aligns with the WBG’s increased commitments for climate financing in line with the new Climate Change Action Plan, and in turn the WBG’s commitment towards Paris alignment.

What’s your professional superpower?

Perseverance. This has been particularly useful in identifying and developing opportunities in current challenging circumstances and difficult market environments.

Tell us about something—big or small—that you’re really bad at?

Cooking. I have been doing it for over a decade but still haven’t managed to get it right. Preparing a professional meal is something on my bucket list.

Atta’s first attempt in the kitchen.
Atta’s first attempt in the kitchen. Photo: Nadia Elnemr

What’s on your playlist?

I’m not specific on genre, so the songs on my playlist are there because they made me feel something special when I first heard them—whether it’s a song I heard while on vacation or simply one that I found empowering. Meditation music helped keep me calm throughout the first lockdown when I was in London, especially the song So Far Away by Buddha’s Lounge. I love dancing so there’s also a lot of good rhythms in there too!

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Follow the links to listen to some of Mouhanad Atta’s favorite songs

This interview is part of a series spotlighting IFC staff who share their career highlights, creative pursuits, cultural heroes, and—yes—music playlists.

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