One of the most powerful women in the world is the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Christine Lagarde. For the last eight years, the French lawyer has occupied the world’s top finance post.
Lagarde was born in Paris in 1956, completed high school in Le Havre and attended Holton-Arms School in Bethesda, Maryland, USA. She then graduated from law school at University Paris X, where she obtained her Master’s degree from the Political Science Institute in Aix-en-Provence, according to her profile on the official IMF blog.
After being admitted as a lawyer to the Paris Bar, Lagarde joined the international law firm of Baker McKenzie as an associate, specializing in Labour, Anti-trust, and Mergers & Acquisitions. She became a member of the Executive Committee of the Firm in 1995, and was appointed Chairman of the Global Executive Committee of the same firm in 1999, and subsequently Chairman of the Global Strategic Committee in 2004.
Lagarde, 63, has represented the French government, when she took office as Minister for Foreign Trade in June 2005. After a brief stint as Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, in June 2007 she became the first female to hold the post of Finance and Economy Minister of a G7 country.
From July to December 2008, she chaired the ECOFIN Council, which embraces Economics and Finance Ministers of the European Union, and there helped to foster international policies related to financial supervision, regulation, and the strengthening of global economic governance.
She later presided over the G20 when France took over its presidency for the year 2011, and she set in motion a wide-ranging work agenda on the reform of the international monetary system.
On July 5th, 2011, Lagarde became the eleventh Managing Director of the IMF, and the first woman to hold that position, providing financial oversight and guidance for its 189 member countries. She was elected to a second term, which started on July 5th, 2016.
In April 2012, she was named Officier in the Légion d'honneur.
Under her tenure, the IMF has navigated the eurozone debt crisis, managed emerging market risks and the threat of a US trade war with China. In November 2018, she warned that disputes and tariffs are jeopardizing global growth, and urged countries to fix global trade issues.
As the digital currencies became common in internet trades, Lagarde asked central banks to adopt them as a legitimate option to supply money in the digital economy.
She used the 10-year anniversary of the 2008 bank collapse to highlight "groupthink" in the male-dominated industry, calling for further gender reforms.
She was ranked third in Forbes’ list of the world’s most powerful women in 2018, and came 22nd in the list of the world’s most powerful people.
A mother of two, she is a former member of the French national team for synchronized swimming.