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5 Things Young Ladies Can Learn From Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was born on 13th June 1954 in Nigeria. She studied at Harvard University from 1973-76 and earned a Ph.D. at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1981. She spent 25 years at the World Bank, rising to the No.2 position as Managing Director (2007-11). She was a two-term Nigerian finance minister – 2003-2006 and 2011-2015 – and the first woman to hold the post. She served briefly as foreign minister in 2006, also the first woman to do so. She sits on the boards of Twitter, Standard Chartered Bank, and the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI). She was nominated by President MohammaduBuhari as a candidate for director-general of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in June 2020.

On 15 February 2021, she was appointed as the Director-general of the WTO. Her term will begin on 1 March 2021, when she will become the first woman and the first African to hold the office.

She lives on and off Washington DC with a neurosurgeon husband.

NgoziOkonjo-Iwealahas challenged and inspired women, especially in African countries, by becoming the first woman and first African to win the Director-General post of the 164-member World Trade Organisation (WTO).

Below are five things young ladies can learn from her:

  • Integrity and Diligence

As the Chair of GAVI or Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, she ensured a greater reach of immunization and vaccines around the world, especially to vulnerable populations. Young ladies should likewise strive for diligence and be known as a person of integrity and impact in whatever task they undertake.

  • Hard work

In her capacity as the Finance Minister, she was seen as a tough negotiator who played an instrumental role in reducing and tackling Nigeria’s debts. Iweala has also spent over 20 years working with the World Bank where she rose to become the Managing Director of the organization and oversaw 181 billion dollars worth of operations.

Okonjo-Iweala worked hard to be where she is today. She didn’t wait for life to happen or lazy around. Instead, she took the bull by its horns and worked hard to become the trailblazer that she is today.

  • Endurance and Patience

Okonjo-Iweala details the numerous ways in which corruption can divert resources away from development, rewarding the unscrupulous and depriving poor people of services. Okonjo-Iweala discovered just how dangerous fighting corruption could be when her 83-year-old mother was kidnapped in 2012 by forces who objected to some of the government’s efforts at reforms led by Okonjo-Iweala-in particular,a crackdown on fraudulent claims for oil subsidy payments; a huge drain on the country’s finances. The kidnappers’ first demand was that Okonjo-Iweala resign from her position on live television and leave the country. Okonjo-Iweala did not resign, her mother escaped, and the program of economic reforms continued. We see through her experiences that victories are possible in the fight against corruption. We see that tough times don’t last but tough people do. We see that indeed the patient’s dog eats the fattest bone. Okonjo-Iweala did not rush to make a rash decision when her mother was kidnapped. She waited patiently and light came through at the end of the tunnel. Young ladies should learn from her to be patient in hurdles and employ wisdom in decision-making.

  • Education and Learning

Okonjo-Iweala knew she needed a certain level of knowledge and educational credentials to qualify for the positions she wanted to pursue and she got them. It is important for young ladies to learn from this and gain hard skills as well as soft skills which will give them an edge over others and be useful to them in the path they have chosen to pursue.

  • Self Confidence

Dr. Okonjo-Iweala believed in herself by declaring to the whole world that she was the right person for the job of the Director-General of WTO. Despite other competing resumes, she stood out with her faith and confidence. Thus, every lady working on something or aiming at anything should always believe in themselves regardless of how difficult the goal may be.

Dr. NgoziOkonjo-Iweala is an example to young ladies that they can have a successful career and also a successful home. Even with all of her career achievements, NgoziOkonjo-Iweala is a married woman with grown-up children. A marriage she has been in for about thirty-seven years. Indeed, she shows us that it is possible to have a good work-life balance.

Okonjo-Iweala didn’t become a public figure overnight. She started out as an intern at the World Bank Group. After her graduation, she returned to the World Bank Group and worked for many years as a development economist. She held the post of Corporate Secretary and Vice President before her first appointment as Finance Minister. Young ladies should learn not to rush the process but walk every step of the ladder towards their desired goal.

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