“The financial industry is a service industry. It should serve others before it serves itself.” ~Christine Lagarde
The first woman to head the International Monetary Fund and the first financial minister of one the world’s largest economies, Christine Lagarde is no stranger to power and money management. A fierce lawyer and authoritative minister, Lagarde leads the IMF with both calm and ruthlessness. The organization has a history of being dominated by men, and especially after the scandal surrounding her predecessor Dominique Strauss-Kahn, it is high time for more diversity. Fortunately, Lagarde has committed to including more women during her reign.
Lagarde began practicing law in 1981 for a Chicago-based international law firm. She handled labor disputes and anti-trust cases. She worked hard and made partner swiftly. By 1999, she was the chairman of the company, making her first distinction as the large firm’s first female leader. In 2005 she moved to public service, and became a minister of Trade, Agriculture and Economic Affairs before her appointment to the International Monetary Fund.
Christine Lagarde’s economic doctrine is known to be more traditional and conventional, a way of thinking that has been praised and criticized. Lagarde’s appointment came after she campaigned on her own behalf. She was able to convince representatives of the world, twenty-four male board members of the IMF to vote her on, and she quickly received the support of Timothy Geithner, French president Nicholas Sarkozy and Hillary Clinton.
During her tenure, she has raised an impressive $430 billion in funding for global development loans, in spite of widespread austerity measures. She is a supporter of the Euro and an advocator for debt sharing among countries, and she has increased the number of rescue loans to financially struggling nations.
Even though she is known for her savvy and the ability to go toe-to-toe with men in finance, Christine Lagarde also has a reputation for style and femininity. She shops at Chanel, relies on personal stylists to help fill out her wardrobe, and frequently carries designer bags and jewelry. She comes from an upper class French family, and is not ashamed of her success. She has been married twice and has two sons in their twenties. There are rumors that she may run for president in France in the future.