Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was born in Ogwashi-Ukwu, Delta State, Nigeria where her father Professor Chukwuka Okonjo is the Eze (King) from the Obahai Royal Family of Ogwashi-Ukwu.
Okonjo-Iweala was educated at Queen’s School, Enugu, St. Anne’s School, Molete, Ibadan, and the International School Ibadan.
She arrived in the US in 1973 as a teenager to study at Harvard University, graduating magna cum laude with an AB in Economics in 1976.
In 1981, she earned her Ph.D in regional economics and development from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) with a thesis titled Credit policy, rural financial markets, and Nigeria’s agricultural development.
Previously, Okonjo-Iweala spent a 25-year career at the World Bank as a development economist, scaling the ranks to the Number 2 position of Managing Director, Operations (2007–2011).
She also served two terms as Finance Minister of Nigeria (2003–2006, 2011–2015) under the leadership of President Olusegun Obasanjo and President Goodluck Jonathan respectively.
She received an International Fellowship from the American Association of University Women (AAUW), that supported her doctoral studies.
She is married to Dr. Ikemba Iweala, a neurosurgeon. They have four children
1, – One daughter, Onyinye Iweala (AB, MD, PhD, Harvard)
2, – Son, Uzodinma Iweala (AB, Harvard, MD, Columbia)
3, -Son, Okechukwu Iweala (AB, Harvard)
4, -Son, Uchechi Iweala (AB, MD, MBA, Harvard).
During her campaign to become the next Director General of the WTO, it was revealed that the two-time minister became a US citizen in 2019 after spending several decades working and studying in the United States.
Given the ongoing trade tensions between the United States and China, Chinese trade experts commented that the disclosure would be a contributing factor in shaping China’s attitude towards her.