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“Partnering” by Jean Oelwang

Tangible lessons from 60+ of the world's most remarkable partnerships.


Family and partners for a fairer world

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Uzodinma Iweala


Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is a Nigerian-born development economist who served as managing director of the World Bank and as Nigeria’s Finance Minister. In 2021, Ngozi became the first woman and the first African to hold the position of director-general of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Her son, Uzodinma (Uzo) Iweala is a physician, the CEO of the Africa Center, and an acclaimed author whose books explore race and culture. Published in 2005, his debut novel, ‘Beasts of No Nation’ was adapted into an award-winning film of the same name.

Together, Ngozi and Uzo are partners in creating a fairer world, with a specific focus on empowering Africans. Ngozi is shaping economic empowerment and promoting anti-corruption and increased accountability and transparency throughout Africa. While Uzo is shining a spotlight on African innovation, arts, and commerce through his books and work at the Africa Center.  

“Values are extremely important and have been, in large part, the most important thing. Some people will say that it’s like the money that you give someone, or it’s inherited, it’s the position, or whatever. But I think more than anything else, it’s how people construct their characters and how they behave in the world. So, with my parents, both of them, they’re very much on the same page when it comes to how they operate and what they believe in. I think the first and foremost thing is that you treat everybody with a fundamental level of respect. It literally doesn’t matter who they are – no one is beneath you.”

Uzodinma Iweala

“If you disagree with somebody, then you listen to what they have to say first and then you process it, and then if there are issues, then you come back and you discuss it. And I think that’s what I’ve seen them do with each other, my parents, and that’s what I’ve seen my mom do in most of the way that she operates with people.”

Uzodinma Iweala

“I think if you’re trying to shape partnerships, if you’re trying to shape relationships, for instance, I think the most important thing is respect. Core and key to everything is how do you demonstrate your respect for someone. And the funny thing is, you don’t have to like a person to respect them as a human. But, if you respect them, you do need to demonstrate that you respect their existence.”

Uzodinma Iweala

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