EMC Alumni Feature: Bernardo Contri

Bernardo wanted to work in area of international development and having travelled to Southeast Asia before, he was motivated to look specifically for job opportunities within the ASEAN region. Bernardo interviewed with EMC in 2013 and he accepted the offer even before he defended his master’s thesis in Economics and Management at Bocconi University. Soon enough, he was on plane from Milan to Vientiane about to embark on a new journey with EMC.  

Bernard started as a consultant in the Laos office, and during the following 3.5 years rose to Principal Consultant in our Myanmar office. According to Bernardo, EMC was the perfect fit for him as it allowed him to begin his career in consulting and gain exposure to the multiple facets of international development.  This included NGO and international organizations, as well as local and international investors.  

Bernardo says, “My single most memorable project was when we worked for the IFC and ILO in Bangladesh, on a project looking at financing for garment factories to invest in safety.” This project followed the collapse of the Rana Plaza building in Dhaka, Bangladesh, which housed five garment factories, killing at least 1,132 people and injuring more than 2,500. Despite the challenges, it was a project that was highly rewarding to him. The project required a deep degree of technical input from various key stakeholders which ranged from bankers to engineers. Through the project, Bernardo needed to incorporate and synthesize multiple facets into his analyses which included political, economic, and social perspectives.  

What Bernardo enjoyed most about working in EMC was the open culture that allowed for staff of any age to contribute, take leadership, and express their ideas. Moreover, he states, “There was no limit to how much you could take on, as long as you were driven and delivered results.”  

Outside of work, you can catch Bernardo on his Royal Enfield motorbike travelling across scenic valleys and tight mountain roads. “Laos is one of the nicest places I have ever lived in. It’s natural beauty, the people; locals and expats, and the travels made my 3 years there unforgettable,” he muses. He also noted that Laos has some unique festivals. One of them is the annual Rocket Festival (Boun Bang Fai), a ceremony that is believed to bring rain so that rice planting can begin. It includes 2 or 3 days of music and performances and culminates on the third day with competitive firing of home-made rockets. 

After EMC, Bernardo worked as a freelance consultant in Myanmar before joining the International Finance Corporation (IFC), where he still works in the Financial Institutions Group, based in Indonesia. “It’s difficult to list the various ways in which working at EMC formed me. It gave me analytical skills, ability to deliver on tight deadlines, work in complex opaque country environments, and lots of determination.” Bernardo says.