Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is the first female and first African leader to be appointed as the World Trade Organization, (WTO) leader.
Dr Okonjo-Iweala was twice Nigeria’s finance minister (2003-2006 and 2011-2015) and its first female foreign minister in a two-month stint in 2006, Okonjo-Iweala is seen as a trailblazer in Nigeria.
She is the daughter of a traditional king, Okonjo-Iweala saw her mother kidnapped, and she had dared to call out corruption in the Nigerian oil industry – then stared down her captors.
She is on the Twitter board of directors and chaired Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.
Okonjo-Iweala won White House backing to lead the embattled WTO last week, lifting a block imposed by former President Donald Trump after a WTO selection panel recommended her as chief in October.
Born in the southern Nigeria town of Ogwashi-Ukwu, Okonjo-Iweala spent most of her childhood with her grandmother while her parents were studying in the United States, and sometimes recalls the hardships she experienced during her early years.
She left home as a teenager in 1973 to study economics at Harvard and in 1981 earned her PhD in regional economics and development from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, eventually becoming a U.S. citizen in 2019.
In 2007, she founded NOI Polls, Nigeria’s first indigenous opinion-research group, which partners with Gallup.
Much of Okonjo-Iweala’s career has been spent at the World Bank, where she rose to the No. 2 spot after returning to Nigeria to serve as the country’s first female finance minister under former President Olusegun Obasanjo.