Christine Lagarde was born 1 January 1956 in Paris, France, into a family of academics. Her father Robert Lallouette, was a Professor of English; her mother Nicole was a Latin, Greek and French literature teacher. Lagarde and her three brothers, all younger, spent their childhood in Le Havre where she attended the Lycée François 1er and Lycée Claude Monet. As a teenager, Lagarde was a member of the French national synchronised swimming team. After her baccalauréat in 1973, she went on an American Field Service scholarship to the Holton-Arms School for girls in Bethesda, Maryland. During her year in America, Lagarde worked as an intern at the United States Capitol, as Representative William Cohen’s congressional assistant, helping him correspond with his French-speaking constituents during the Watergate hearings.
She later graduated from Paris West University Nanterre La Défense, where she obtained Master’s degrees in English, labor law, and social law. She also holds a master’s degree from the Institut d’études politiques d’Aix-en-Provence. Since 2010, she has presided over Sciences Po Aix’s board of directors. She also prepared for École nationale d’administration’s entrance exam but ultimately failed to gain admission to the elite public administration school.
Lagarde’s marriage is blessed with two sons, Pierre-Henri Lagarde and Thomas Lagarde. She is a health-conscious vegetarian whose hobbies include regular trips to the gym, cycling, and swimming.
Lagarde joined Baker & McKenzie, a large Chicago-based international law firm, in 1981. She handled major antitrust and labour cases, was made partner after six years and was named head of the firm in Western Europe. She joined the executive committee in 1995 and was elected the company’s first ever female Chairman in October 1999. In 2004, Lagarde became president of the global strategic committee. She was appointed as France’s Trade Minister in 2005 and served up until May 2007. On 18 May 2007, she was moved to the Ministry of Agriculture as part of the government of François Fillon. The following month she joined François Fillon’s cabinet in the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Finance and Employment and became the first woman ever in charge of economic policy in France. With such formidable experience, Lagarde announced her candidacy to be head of the IMFOn 25 May 2011 to succeed Dominique Strauss-Kahn upon his resignation. Her candidacy received the support of the British, Indian, United States, Brazilian, Russian, Chinese and German governments. On 28 June 2011, the IMF board elected Lagarde as its next managing director and chairman for a five-year term, starting on 5 July 2011. The IMF’s executive board decided on Lagarde by consensus and she became the first woman to be elected as the head of the IMF. In 2014, Lagarde was ranked the 5th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes magazine.
Christine Lagarde, touched down in Nigeria on Monday to commence a four-day working visit. Ms Lagarde arrived on Monday at about 3pm and was received by the Minister of Finance Kemi Adeosun and Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Mr. Godwin Emefiele, at the presidential wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja. Lagarde has held meetings with President Muhammadu Buhari, business leaders, prominent women and representatives of the civil society and members of the national assembly. The IMF boss tweeted her reaction after her meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja. She wrote that she was ‘impressed with government’s response to the challenge of sustained, low oil prices.”
She leaves for Cameroon on Thursday.