Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, WTO’s First Female and African Leader, to headline the Professional BusinessWomen of California’s IgniteCHANGE Conference - Professional BusinessWomen of California

Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, WTO’s First Female and African Leader, to headline the Professional BusinessWomen of California’s IgniteCHANGE Conference

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., March 5, 2021 — Following her historic appointment as the Director General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala joins the Professional BusinessWomen of California (PBWC) to speak at the nonprofit’s 32nd Annual Conference on May 11-13.

Dr. Okonjo-Iweala will headline PBWC’s virtual stage to share her story, which carried her from Nigeria to one of the most powerful and important roles in the world economy. In her work as a global economic leader, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala served twice as Nigeria’s finance minister before rising to the top position at the World Bank. She is the first African and first woman to lead the WTO.

An economist with a background in international development, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala is known for her dedication to assisting countries most in need. During her tenure at the World Bank, she spearheaded efforts to raise $49.3 billion to aid the world’s poorest countries. She is a powerful force, formulating policy to re-energize the global economy while inspiring the next generation of leaders. She believes “Investing in women is smart economics, and investing in girls, catching them upstream, is even smarter economics.”

Influential and impactful, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala has been included in the 50 Greatest World Leaders, Top 100 Most Influential People in the World, Top 100 Global Thinkers, Top 100 Most Powerful Women in the World, and the Top 100 Most Inspiring People in the World Delivering for Girls and Women by Forbes, Time Magazine, Newsweek, and more. She is listed among 73 “brilliant” business influencers in the world by Condé Nast’s International Business Intelligence Magazine and she is the 2017 recipient of the Aspen Institute’s prestigious Madeleine Albright Award.

Born in Nigeria and educated at Harvard University, she earned her doctorate in Regional Economics and Development from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is a dual U.S. and Nigerian citizen. In her spare time she enjoys swimming, reading and writing poetry. She is married to Dr. Ikemba Iweala, a surgeon, and they have four grown children and two grandchildren.

PBWC, one of the largest women’s organizations with a diverse community of more than 42,000 professionals worldwide, provides skill development and networking opportunities that break down silos, bridging seniority, specialty, gender, race and identity. 

On May 11-13, 2021, PBWC will host a global virtual event for 10,000 women and men of all backgrounds to empower, inform, and ignite professional advancement. “We are delighted to welcome Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to our conference stage. Her confidence and determination are exactly what we seek when selecting leaders to inspire and motivate our community to dream big and IgniteCHANGE in their own lives,” said Nicole Soluri, PBWC CEO. “With millions of women being sidelined by the pandemic, it is encouraging to witness one achieve two firsts: first woman and first African named to the WTO’s top position.”

The conference experience, along with PBWC’s year-long programming, is designed to give attendees the tools, inspiration and networking opportunities to grow their careers, achieve their ambitions, support their colleagues and give back to their communities.

IgniteCHANGE conference attendees will hear influential narratives, grow their networks, and gain tools to transform their communities. Participants will experience daily live-stream keynote and seminar presentations; connect through moderated networking sessions, direct messaging and face-to-face meetings; celebrate PBWC’s class of 2021 Industry Leaders and Scholarship Program recipients; and visit a virtual Exhibit Hall with bonus content and online gift bag discounts. Most conference benefits will be available and accessible on-demand through mid-June. 

Joining a powerful lineup of speakers, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala is the standard-bearer for this year’s IgniteCHANGE theme. “When I became finance minister,” she says, “they called me Okonjo-Wahala—or ‘Trouble Woman.’ It means ‘I give you hell.’ But I don’t care what names they call me. I’m a fighter; I’m very focused on what I’m doing, and relentless in what I want to achieve, almost to a fault. If you get in my way, you get kicked.”

Hear how she is inspiring change in the world and “kicking things up a notch” at PBWC’s 2021 Conference, IgniteCHANGE.

Registration for the three-day event is now open with tickets priced at $299 through March 15, 2021.

For more information, please visit: conference.pbwc.org