Here are six Black women leading developments in global finance

BY Ben Ebuka Oji March 25, 2024 2:28 PM EDT
6 Black women pioneering innovative developments in global finance
Six Black women pioneering innovative developments in global finance

Despite global social and economic challenges and some age-long unfavorable traditional practices in societies that hamper the existence and development of Black women, many Black women have managed to break out of the limiting yolks and champion the advancement of the female gender and general development of the world.

The stories of these resilient and innovative Black women inspire and testify to the power of determination, hard work, and resilience, irrespective of location and origin. Their visionary leadership and innovative practices are creating continuous possibilities for younger Black women in finance and beyond.

Below, we celebrate a few innovative Black women who, in the face of diversity, are exceptionally pioneering innovative changes in the global financial sector.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is a global finance expert, an economist, and an international development professional with over 40 years of experience working in Asia, Africa, Europe, Latin America, and North America. Okonjo-Iweala is the seventh Director-General of the WTO, the first woman, and the first African to serve as Director-General. She took office on 1 March 2021 for a five-year term that will expire on 31 August 2025. As a skilled negotiator, Okonjo-Iweala has brokered numerous agreements that have produced win-win outcomes in negotiations. She is regarded as an effective consensus builder and an honest broker enjoying the trust and confidence of governments and other stakeholders.

Dr. Okonjo-Iweala twice served as Finance Minister in Nigeria (2003-2006 and 2011-2015) and briefly acted as Foreign Minister in 2006, the first woman to hold both positions. She distinguished herself by carrying out major reforms that improved the effectiveness of these two Ministries and the functioning of the government machinery. She had a 25-year career at the World Bank as a development economist, rising to the No. 2 position of Managing Director of Operations. As a development economist and Finance Minister, Okonjo-Iweala steered her country through various reforms ranging from macroeconomics to trade, financial, and real sector issues.

As Managing Director of the World Bank, she had oversight responsibility for the World Bank’s $81 billion operational portfolio in Africa, South Asia, Europe, and Central Asia. Dr. Okonjo-Iweala spearheaded several World Bank initiatives to assist low-income countries during the 2008-2009 food crisis and later during the financial crisis. In 2010, she was Chair of the World Bank’s successful drive to raise $49.3 billion in grants and low-interest credit for the poorest countries in the world.

As Minister of Finance in Nigeria, she spearheaded negotiations with the Paris Club of Creditors that led to the wiping out of $30 billion of Nigeria’s debt, including the outright cancellation of $18 billion. In her second term as Finance Minister, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala was responsible for leading reform that enhanced transparency of government accounts and strengthened institutions against corruption, including the implementation of the GIFMS (Government Integrated Financial Management System), the IPPMS (Integrated Personnel and Payroll Management System), and the TSA (Treasury Single Accounts).

Thasunda Brown Duckett

Thasunda Brown Duckett is a global finance powerhouse and one of the dew African women to lead a Fortune 500 firm. In 2021, Thasunda Brown Duckett was named the president and CEO of TIAA, a retirement and financial services company for academic, research, medical, and governmental workers. She came to TIAA from JPMorgan Chase, where she served as CEO of Chase Consumer Banking and oversaw a network with more than $600 billion in deposits and 50,000 employees.

Earlier in her career, Thasunda worked at mortgage giant Fannie Mae, where she led strategies aimed at increasing homeownership rates among Black and Hispanic Americans. Thasunda continues to contribute innovatively to various spheres by serving as a board member of several notable entities, including Nike, the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights organization, Sesame Workshop, and the National Medal of Honor Museum.

Valerie Mosley

Valerie Mosley is the Founder of BrightUp (formerly Upward Wealth), a fintech platform that democratizes the creation of personal and financial wealth. She is also the Founder and CEO of Valmo Ventures, which creates, collaborates, and invests in companies, assets, and efforts that have significant potential to grow, profit, and add value to society. Mosley retired as a Partner, Senior Vice President Portfolio Manager and Investment Strategist from Wellington Management Company, LLP, a $1 trillion global money management firm. During her 20-year tenure, she managed billions of dollars for clients, chaired the firm’s Industry Strategy Group, and served on several investment strategy groups that set key parameters for team portfolio managers to follow. Mosley invested in public companies and structured credit at Wellington and in private and impact-driven companies equity through Valmo Ventures.

Valerie began her career at Chase Manhattan Bank, where she was a Commercial Lending Officer for financial institutions (1982 – 1984). After graduate school, she worked in institutional corporate bond sales at Kidder Peabody (1986 – 1990). Prior to joining Wellington Management in 1992, she was Chief Investment Officer at P.G. Corbin Asset Management (1990 – 1992).

Mosley is on the board of New Profit, a philanthropic venture firm. As part of her mission to help others grow their self-worth and net worth, Mosley created financial fluency courses for high school teachers and students, and speaks about the “Parallels of Managing Money and Life.”

Mellody Hobson

Mellody Hobson has been the co-CEO and President of Ariel Investments, LLC, an investment management firm. As Co-CEO, Hobson is responsible for all firm-wide management, including strategic planning and growth, and every aspect of Ariel’s business beyond research and portfolio management. She also functions as Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Ariel Investment Trust, a registered investment company advised by Ariel Investments, since 2006. Prior to her formal appointment to Co-CEO, Hobson served as Ariel’s President for nearly two decades (1991 – 2019).

Beyond her work at Ariel Investments, Hobson has become a nationally recognized voice on financial literacy and investor education. She is a regular contributor and analyst on finance, the markets, and economic trends for CBS News. She also extends weekly money tips on the Tom Joyner Morning Show and pens a column for Black Enterprise magazine. As a passionate advocate for investor education, she is a spokesperson for the Ariel/Hewitt Study: 401(k) Plans in Living Color and the Ariel Black Investor Survey, both of which examine investing patterns among minorities.

Marjorie Mayida

Marjorie Mayida has more than 20 years of working experience in the financial services sector and currently works within the Old Mutual Group in Kenya and Zimbabwe. She is presently the Managing Director and Chief Investment Officer of Old Mutual Investment Group, Zimbabwe. Prior to her appointment in her current position, Marjorie Mayida served in other roles in Old Mutual Investment Group, including Investment Analyst, Fund Manager, Chief Operations Officer, Head of Equity Investments, and Head of Research.

Ibukun Awosika

Ibukun Awosika is an entrepreneur, leader, speaker, and challenger. She is the former Chair of First Bank of Nigeria, where she led strategic developments that heavily impacted not just First Bank but the entire financial industry in Nigeria and Africa. Awosika is the Founder/ CEO of The Chair Centre Group, the Chairman of D.light Design Inc., Digital Jewels Ltd, and the Non-Executive Director of Cadbury Nigeria Plc. She is a former Non-executive Director and Chair of the Compensation and Finance & General-Purpose Committees of the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority. Aside from her innovative impacts on the corporate landscape in Africa, Awosika is the author of several inspiring books, including The Girl Entrepreneur. She is one of the original Dragons on the African version of Dragon’s Den.