2013 speaker, Mary Ellen Iskenderian, is President and CEO of Women’s World Banking (WWB), the world’s largest network of microfinance institutions and banks. Ms. Iskenderian leads the WWB global team, based in New York, in providing hands-on technical services and strategic support to 39 top-performing microfinance institutions and banks in 27 countries in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Middle East. WWB network members are diverse in geography, size and structure but are united in the firm belief that microfinance must remain committed to helping poor women access innovative financial products and services and information. WWB’s network members consistently rate among the top three microfinance institutions in their countries serving more than 26 million clients, 80 percent of whom are women.
Ms. Iskenderian joined WWB in 2006 and has continued to strengthen the organization’s position as the pre-eminent voice for women’s leadership and participation in microfinance. WWB, under Ms. Iskenderian’s leadership, works to ensure that women continue to be represented in this evolving industry as both clients and leaders.
Ms. Iskenderian has more than 20 years of experience in building global financial systems throughout the developing world. She is a strong advocate for moving microfinance beyond credit by providing low-income women with a full suite of financial products and services and a proponent for the role of responsible investment in the microfinance sector. Ms. Iskenderian has spoken widely on microfinance at Harvard, Yale, Stanford and Wharton and at numerous industry and banking forums including the annual conference of Le Cercle des Economistes, the Council on Foreign Relations, the IDB Foromic and the Microcredit Summit. She has been published in Forbes magazine and the Wall Street Journal; is a regular contributor to the Harvard Business Review blog; and is frequently quoted in the media, including the Financial Times, Newsweek, Time, BBC News and the Atlantic.
Ms. Iskenderian serves on the Board of Directors of Kashf Microfinance Bank in Pakistan and is a permanent member of the Council on Foreign Relations. She serves as an Advisor to the Clinton Global Initiative and is a judge for the annual Financial Times Sustainable Banking Awards. She was also recently invited by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to be a member of the US delegation to the Asia-Pacific Economic Conference (APEC) 2011 Women and the Economy Summit.
Ms. Iskenderian is a past recipient of NYU Stern’s Distinguished Citi Fellowship in Leadership and Ethics, the Isabel Benham Award from the Women’s Bond Club, and the companion Women’s Finance Award given by the Institute of Financial Services at Lucerne University, Switzerland.
Prior to WWB, Ms. Iskenderian worked for 17 years in senior management at the International Finance Corporation, the private sector arm of the World Bank, where her numerous leadership positions included Director of Partnership Development, Director of the Global Financial Markets Portfolio and Director of the South Asia Regional Department. Previously, she worked for the investment bank Lehman Brothers.
Ms. Iskenderian holds an MBA from the Yale School of Management and a Bachelor of Science in International Economics from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service.