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What Okonjo-Iweala brings to Twitter as a board member


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BEYOND diversity, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is also bringing policy expertise and global financial connections to Twitter. The social network with over 336 million users has struggled to make profits in its 12 years of existence.

Former Nigerian Minister of Finance and former senior official of World Bank was appointed board member of Twitter Thursday.

The news of the appointment reverberated across the world with the notion that Okonjo-Iweala will bring the much-needed diversity in Twitter’s board.

The board members of the company have been mainly white and male. Okonjo-Iweala is the third woman and first African to ever be appointed unto the board of Twitter. The first female board member, Marjorie Scardino who was appointed in 2013, will be stepping down by end of the year. The other woman on the board of Twitter is Debra Lee, Chief Executive of BET Networks.

Big tech companies, like Twitter, have been facing criticisms for a lack of diversity in their executive ranks and boards. Recognising the problem, Twitter had made promises to increase the number of female employees as well as increase the percentage of minority groups – black and Latino employees.

But it is not just diversity that Okonjo-Iweala is bringing to the table; the company recognises her global financial experience.

Her appointment came alongside Robert Zoellick, former World Bank chief.

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“Ngozi and Bob are distinguished leaders with unparalleled global perspective and policy expertise,” said Omid Kordestani, Executive Chairman of Twitter. “We are confident they will be incredible assets to Twitter as we continue to focus on driving transparency and making Twitter a safer, healthier place for everyone who uses our service.”

In her acceptance of the appointment, Okonjo-Iweala said she would work to use the power of the social networking platform to bring common good to the society.

“Twitter is a powerful platform that continues to be used as a strong connector for the global community, and I’m thrilled to be a part of the team,” she said.

“As we strive to build a better world for tomorrow, Twitter can amplify messages and drive critical conversations around today’s most important issues. I look forward to partnering with Twitter’s talented directors and leadership team as we work to leverage the power of Twitter for good.”

Okonjo-Iweala is a well-respected and long-time World Bank official. She was two-time Minister of Finance under two different administrations. She was also the first female Minister of Finance in Nigeria.

She was Minister of Finance under President Olusegun Obasanjo from 2003 to 2006. Obasanjo later removed and appointed her as the Minister of Foreign Affairs.  She briefly served as the Minister of Foreign Affairs but resigned before the expiration of Obasanjo’s tenure.  Her effort led to debt forgiveness and cancellations for Nigeria.

Okonjo-Iweala went back to the World where she worked as a managing director until Goodluck Jonathan appointed her in 2011.

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She did not only serve as the Minister of Finance under Jonathan but also the Coordinating Minister of the Economy. Under Jonathan, she was instrumental to several innovations such as the Treasury Single Account and Government Integrated Financial Management Information System to make government budgeting and revenue collection more transparent and efficient.

She keenly contested for the President of World Bank which she lost to Jim Yong Kim, the current president, as the US threw its weight behind Kim, an American of Korean descent.

After Jonathan failed to win re-election in 2015, Okonjo-Iwela joined Lazard as a Senior Advisor in September 2015. She was also appointed Chair of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) in 2016.

She is co-chair of the Global Commission for the Economy and Climate and she was named the independent non-executive director at Standard Chartered PLC in 2017.

Okonjo-Iweala is an alumna of Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) with a PhD in regional economics and development.

She has a rich global financial network with personal relationships with many global leaders. Her skills and expertise will definitely help Twitter to become profitable to the shareholders as the company has struggled to turn in profits over the years despite its global reach and popularity.

Chikezie can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @KezieOmeje

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