Honorary doctorate Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala during 76th anniversary Nyenrode Business University
After a year of festivities, Nyenrode Business University officially concluded its lustrum year, during its 76th anniversary. In a Pfizer Hall decorated with flowers, the so-called Dies Natalis was celebrated. Prof. Dr. Désirée van Gorp presented an honorary doctorate to Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
After a musical opening by the students of the Royal Conservatory of Music, Prof. Dr. Koen Becking opened the meeting with a quote from the late professor Paul de Blot: “When you are grateful, you are always content”. Becking referred to peace and freedom which cannot always be taken for granted: "The war in Ukraine reminds us of that every day." Becking looked ahead to a new sustainable future for Nyenrode: “It is our ambition to leave this world in a better way than we found it”.
The honorary doctorate was presented by Prof. Dr. Désirée van Gorp. Van Gorp delivered her laudatory speech for Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala: "Dr. Ngozi stands for what she believes in. Her courage and decisiveness are evident in her fight against corruption as finance minister in Nigeria where she did not allow herself to be pressured by her opponents. Not even when they kidnapped her mother."
Van Gorp describes her leadership based on a statement Dr. Ngozi herself made earlier: "When it comes to doing my job, I keep my ego in my handbag’”. Van Gorp urged the audience to follow this example more often and, if the handbag is too small, to leave your ego at home.
In many ways, Dr. Ngozi is a role model for women who want to make a positive impact in the world. Van Gorp quoted one of Dr. Ngozi's statements to inspire the students of the future: “If you have a sense of purpose that drives you, then aim high, become a leader and make room as you go”.
Dr. Ngozi's entrepreneurial spirit is revealed in finding solutions for the problems she identifies: “She believes in the economic power of women by involving them in trade and projects. In her point of view, the best way to support Africans today is to help them stand on their own feed by helping create jobs and doing business in Africa. WTO assists small businesses and women entrepreneurs to help them to penetrate regional and international markets”, Van Gorp said.
Dr. Ngozi took office as Director-General of the WTO in March 2021: “I am happy and thrilled to be the first woman, the first African in this role but I always say to people, I hope I am the first best person to manage this organization, not the best woman.”
In her own speech, Dr. Ngozi talks about one of her projects in which she worked with the Ministry of Finance to address the issues of corruption and the phenomenon of ghost workers, individuals who are on the payroll but do not work for the organization.
As Director General of the WTO, Dr. Ngozi wants to show that change is possible. And that the need to change starts with yourself. She closes with a current statement referring to the World Cup: "You’ve got to shoot, otherwise you can’t score.”
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