Lagarde profile: An alternative to the conventional politician
Friday 20 May 2011
Christine Lagarde is, after President Sarkozy, the most recognisable face of the French government outside the country.
Although a very unconventional kind of French politician, she is approaching the record for the longest-serving finance minister in the Fifth Republic (since 1958).
Before being head-hunted to join the French government in 2005, Ms Lagarde, 55, spent much of her professional career as a lawyer in the US. She was once an intern on Capitol Hill.
She is liked and admired in both Europe and the US and is popular in the developing world. She has argued, among other things, for what she calls a "teensy-tiny" tax on all financial transactions to help fund investments in the third world to combat climate change.
Ms Lagarde is fluent in English and a frequent performer on the BBC and CNN news channels.
A divorcée with two grown-up sons, she was born in Paris in 1956. Her father, a university lecturer, died when she was 17. Her mother, a teacher, was left to bring up Christine and her three younger brothers.
As a teenager, she was in the French national synchronised swimming team. She was educated in Paris and Le Havre. She trained as a lawyer and made two unsuccessful attempts to enter the élite French civil service college, the Ecole nationale d'administration (ENA).
Had she been successful, she says, it is "very unlikely" that she would have fought her way through the male-dominated world of French politics to reach her present position.
Instead, aged 25, she joined the Paris office of Baker & McKenzie, an American law firm present in 35 countries. By 1999, she was chairing the company HQ in Chicago, the first woman to hold the position.
In 2005, she was head-hunted to become trade minister in the French government. After a one-month stint as agriculture minister in May 2007, she became finance minister. Through the financial crisis of 2008 and the eurozone crises of 2010-11, she built an international reputation as a calm but tough negotiator.
In an interview with The Independent in February, she made the case for more women to be promoted to the highest levels of world politics and finance. In the context of the Dominique Strauss-Kahn affair, her words may now sound prophetic.
"Gender-dominated environments are not good... particularly in the financial sector where there are too few women," she said. "Men have a tendency to... show how hairy-chested they are, compared with the man who's sitting next to them. I honestly think that there should never be too much testosterone in one room."
- 1 Keira Knightley topless: Conservative actress does own take on #Freethenipple campaign for Interview Magazine
- 2 Argentina may change its capital city from Buenos Aires, says president
- 3 Joan Rivers: 'Palestinians deserve to be dead'
- 4 The 3D-printed key that can unlock anything
- 5 Lady al-Qa’ida: On the trail of Dr Aafia Siddiqui, the world’s most wanted prisoner
Keira Knightley topless: Conservative actress does own take on #Freethenipple campaign for Interview Magazine
YouTube video posted by Isis militants shows 'execution of 250 Syrian soldiers'
Oil tanker with $100 million cargo goes missing off Texas coast
Joan Rivers: 'Palestinians deserve to be dead'
Sir Paul McCartney makes his stance on Scottish independence known
Robin Williams Emmys tribute led by Billy Crystal criticised for including 'racist' joke about Muslim woman
The Rotherham child abuse scandal is a tale of apologists, misogyny and double standards
What do immigrants really think of Britain? Polish immigrant's Reddit post goes viral
Scottish independence TV debate: Pumped-up Alex Salmond bounces back in bruising second round against Alistair Darling
Do you realise just how foolish the UK looks?
With Douglas Carswell joining Ukip, my party has taken another giant step forward
- < Previous
- Next >
£32000 - £40000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager (Generalist) -Old...
£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Talent / Learning & Development Mana...
Up to £40,000: Ashdown Group: Standalone HR Manager role for an SME business b...
£350 - £400 per day: Orgtel: HR Analyst - Banking - Bristol - £350 - £400 per ...