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Deputy Director of IMF Visits SMCS

The intersection of economics and politics is an evergreen topic of most news reports at any given time of the year and anywhere around the globe. To bring these conversations to life, several St. Michael’s College School (SMCS) students were recently treated to an overview from an international expert who is all too familiar with the yellow-brick halls.

Mark Flanagan, Deputy Director of IMF presents to SMCS students

In May, alumnus Mark Flanagan ’86, the Deputy Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Strategy, Policy and Review Department, was welcomed back to SMCS. The IMF is a major financial agency of the United Nations that works to achieve sustainable growth and prosperity for its 190 member countries.

Students in Grades 11 and 12 economics, accounting, and world issues and members of the Model United Nations Club made up the attentive audience for the ‘World Economy, Macroeconomics, and the Role of the IMF’ presentation.

“Mr. Flanagan was a great speaker who had lots of insight on the international economy,” says Carson Weber, Grade 11. “Not only is his job interesting, but he also presented information in an intriguing way. It relates to our accounting class as we have studied the impact of business on the world around us, and this presentation gave us insight into decisions being made every day to protect the world economy.”

Flanagan is an international expert on managing economic crises and is currently the IMF’s most senior Canadian staff member. He served as the IMF’s lead during the Iceland and Greek debt crises and, most recently, was the architect of the international community’s current economic and financial engagement with Ukraine, and he was able to share with students many experiences dealing with economic crises around the world.

Mark Flanagan, Deputy Director of IMF presents to SMCS students

In 1998, while working on his PhD in economics at the University of Toronto, Flanagan was recruited by the IMF. His 25-year career with the Fund has included visiting 21 UN countries, has participated in various global fora (like the G-20), and progressively working his way into senior management.

Flanagan’s presentation included discussing the various geopolitical and economic issues the students have been studying in their classes and following in the news – inflation, debt crises, supply chain disruptions, and the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“Shock after shock, the nationalism of the 1930s is very much alive today,” Flanagan warned.

While his presentation centred on macroeconomics, geopolitics, the role of the IMF and the issues of the day, he stressed the importance of hard work, ethics, and morality, values he attributed to his years at SMCS.

When asked why he chose to work for the IMF instead of making a lot more money on Bay or Wall Street, Flanagan reinforced his SMCS values.

Mark Flanagan, Deputy Director of IMF presents to SMCS students

“I would rather be at the forefront, witnessing and making history and trying to make the world a better place. Is the world a better place because you’re in it?”

Following Flanagan’s talk, a brief Q&A was quickly used up by the many students who were enthralled by the tales of his experiences and his vast and intimate knowledge of the issues they regularly read and hear about.

“His speech about international economics gave us great insights into the financial landscapes around the world,” says Owen Doig, Grade 11. “I particularly enjoyed how he took complex concepts and made them understandable. Furthermore, he integrated real-life stories into the presentation, making economic theory more interesting.”

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