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Aissatou Seck

Senior Counsel at the World Bank, Ivory Coast.

Why did you decide to study law?

I am an attorney, a development professional and a fervent advocate for the advancement of women’s rights. I became a lawyer because I loved rules for the way they shaped societies, yet I struggled with accepting how their interpretation and implementation were different for certain groups. I embraced the paradox and it influenced my career choices, from White & Case to the World Bank and my commitment with the African Business Lawyers’ Club, the Association des Juristes Sénégalaises and all the other organizations I am invested in, to ensure women’s access to knowledge, resources and in fine decision-making power.

What is your proudest professional moment thus far?

Measuring the positive impact the projects I work on have on peoples’ lives is one of the most rewarding feelings one can have. On a more personal note, mentoring younger professionals, helping them navigate their careers and seeing them thrive is something I take great pride in.

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Looking back, what is one decision/action you would have done differently?

My mindset is: if I found three solutions to a problem, there is probably a fourth one I can try. This helps me lead with purpose, instead of regret.

Share some major professional challenges you have faced, or continue to face as a woman in law.

I was born and raised in Africa, worked in Europe, Latin America and the United States, and somehow everywhere I went, women faced somewhat of the same challenges. As women, we are often told to let our work be the statement of who we are, yet there are far too many stories of talented women being overlooked or taken for granted. Because I lived many situations where I had to speak not only for myself, but also for others, helping women use their voice, build their capacity and be unapologetic about their ambitions became embedded in everything I do.

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What are some practical strategies for survival in the legal profession?

Sisterhood plays an important part in my life and the strength of the women whose shoulders I am standing on uplifts me, so find your tribe and inspire each other. Also find an environment in alignment with your values so your drive can be translated into excellence. I like to see myself as an eternal student because I know that what people call serendipity is in fact preparation. That’s why I chose to start my career in an international law firm where I was trained to deliver high quality work to demanding clients before deciding to transition to the development sector and to contribute to solving the world’s most pressing issues. Lastly, I would recommend to free yourselves of the limitations others project onto you and be deliberate about the choices you make to steer the wheel of your own careers.

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