World Bank Data Scientist, Washington

World BankClosing date: Monday, 22 January 2018


Development data – data and statistics that improve our knowledge of development in all its forms – is at the heart of the work of the World Bank Group, in operations, in advisory work, and in research. The mission of the Development Data Group (DECDG), is to put data to work for development. DECDG aims to achieve this by improving the quality, accessibility and use of development data, both for client countries and for staff, through technical expertise, partnership, and innovation.

DECDG provides technical expertise and helps mobilize resources for clients; it provides
global public goods, including methods, standards, and tools for data work, and statistical indicators and datasets; and it delivers corporate services, supporting the Bank’s Data Council, the internal use and management of development data, and the provision of specialized knowledge to other Bank teams. It works closely with internal and external partners, and provides the Bank’s interface to the international statistical and development data communities.
DECDG houses the World Bank’s main Data Team, including the Secretariat of the Development Data Council (DDC), a data governance body that coordinates the World Bank Group’s approach to data, in support of the objectives of eradicating extreme poverty and promoting shared prosperity.

This position is in the Data Management and Services team of DECDG. This team manages various high quality data outputs, including the World Development Indicators (WDI) database, sub-national databases, and the World Bank’s new data catalog ( – the institutional hub where Bank’s data assets are stored and shared with both internal and external users. The team also manages business processes and data quality procedures relating to time series data collection and dissemination, and a portfolio of key data management and dissemination platforms. The team is responsible for, the most visited on-line knowledge resource of the World Bank Group.

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The team is currently streamlining the management and dissemination of the WDI database. This database is the longest running and best known statistical product, first published in 1978 with the World Development Report and now the most widely accessed knowledge product of the Bank. The standards and protocols developed for the new design of WDI will also benefit the work the team does with units across the Bank to curate and publish specialized data, indicator design, the curation, management and dissemination of specialized data, data visualization, and data-driven communications. The successful candidate will play a leading role in this process.

Note: If the selected candidate is a current Bank Group staff member with a Regular or Open-Ended appointment, s/he will retain his/her Regular or Open-Ended appointment. All others will be offered a 3 year term appointment.

Duties and Accountabilities

From automating data scraping, importing and validation tasks, to running statistical analyses and creating web-based visualizations to tell clear stories and let people explore data, we’re looking for a creative technologist with a well-rounded skill set in using modern tools and approaches for doing great things with data. The Data Scientist will be a technical expert and specific duties will include:

Data Wrangling, Modelling & Visualization

  • Improving and further automating the processes for compiling and managing global statistical data series, for both internal and external use.
  • Creating, documenting, and maintaining tools (Python, R) that simplify current data wrangling, statistical modeling and visualization tasks.
  • Developing and improving communications tools and methods for explaining development concepts and outcomes, utilizing modern data visualization techniques.
  • Solving any routine data-related problem you encounter using modern programming languages, libraries and tools.


Data Management

  • Establishing protocols for data access, curation, analysis, and dissemination.
  • Establishing protocols for effective indicator design, version management, and data integration techniques across different data types.
  • Evaluating, documenting and automating curation processes such as data capture and ingestion, transformation, quality control and dissemination.
  • Negotiating with internal or external stakeholders and clients on issues relating to data management, such as data acquisition and sharing.
  • Coordinating investments in data purchases, and data-as-a-service contracts, with a focus on data privacy and ethics issues.

Special Projects & Research

  • Evaluating new data sources and methods for inclusion in the Bank’s databases.
  • Overseeing smaller one-off research projects, including monitoring of overall project progress.

Selection Criteria:

Formal Requirements

  • Master’s degree (or PhD) in computer science, statistics, mathematics, economics or equivalent with a strong quantitative and computational background.
  • At least five years of relevant professional experience (or 2 years of experience for those with PhD).

 Technical Requirements

  • Technical experience in various aspects of data science – a creative problem solver with a strong skills in design and problem formulation; data curation; data acquisition, cleaning and management; data interpretation, analysis; and the presentation and communication of results in an engaging and reproducible manner.
  • Excellent working knowledge of modern statistics, scripting and programming languages such as STATA, R & Python and associated software libraries. Excellent working knowledge of SQL, database systems, and the management of data in enterprise environments. Excellent working knowledge of data visualization tools such as D3 and Tableau.
  • Technical knowledge of one or more domains of development data such as economic statistics, demographic data, gender and social statistics, or other topics would be an advantage.
  • Technical knowledge of one or more distinct data sources and associated methods such as household surveys, administrative systems, geographic information systems, satellite imagery and other sensor data, “big data”, would be an advantage.
  • Experience and knowledge of methods of data collection, analysis, and dissemination, especially as they relate to economic and social trends. Expertise in time-series data management would be an advantage.

Soft Skills

  • Analytical skills: ability to think strategically and rapidly analyze, interpret and integrate data information from varied sources into clear conclusions and recommendations.
  • Communication skills: strong writing and data presentation skills, including data visualization.
  • Ability to produce quality work with a high degree of accuracy and attention to detail.
  • Self-starter: ability to take the initiative and work independently.
  • Strong team work orientation, good interpersonal skills, and a proven ability to work effectively with a range of clients and colleagues.
  • Enthusiasm for, and commitment to, development work.


Collaborate Within Teams and Across Boundaries – collaborates across organizational boundaries, internally and externally with a sense of mutuality and respect. Consistently engages others in open dialogue, brings out any conflicting viewpoints and incorporates viewpoints into solutions, giving credit where credit is due. Leverages expertise of all team members to ensure successful outcomes. Makes choices and sets priorities with a WBG corporate perspective in mind.

  • Lead and Innovate – encourages and works with others to identify, incubate and implement relevant solutions. Identifies opportunities in changing circumstances and energizes others to continuously improve, using intentional strategies to boost morale, team spirit, and productivity in context of WBG’s values and mission. Helps others to understand problems, client needs and the underlying context.
  • Deliver Results for Clients – Develops and implements solutions that show understanding of how clients and/or own work achieves results that are financially, environmentally and socially sustainable. Shares new insights based on in-depth understanding of the client and recommends solutions for current and future needs of clients. Holds self and team accountable for risk management and outcomes.
  • Create, Apply and Share Knowledge – ensures systematic sharing of good practice and learning from lessons from across WBG, clients, and partners. Is known across WBG in their subject area and is sought out by WBG colleagues to advise, peer review, or contribute technical knowledge products of others. Builds networks across the WBG and as part of external professional groups/networks.
  • Make Smart Decisions – applies critical thinking and seeks inputs and experience from others to recommend a course of action consistent with the WBG’s strategy. Evaluates risk and anticipates the short and long term implications of decisions. Commits to a decision and takes action once a decision has been reached. Maintains a high degree of initiative, and can derive and implement clear courses of action, even when information is incomplete, incorrect, or the situation is otherwise ambiguous.

Visit World Bank website to apply

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