B.Sc. (Eng.) (Hons), University of Dar es Salaam: 1984
M.Sc. (in Transportation), Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT, USA: 1986
PhD (in in Civil Engineering), Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT, USA: 1990

Hon. Doctorates from North Central College, Illinois, USA (2013) and Lancaster University, UK : 2019

Frannie Léautier, one of the few female graduates from the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Dar es Salaam in the 1980s and a noted international development worker, is our ‘Alumna of the Month’ for the month of February 2023.

She was born in Moshi district in Kilimanjaro region, in the 1960s. At the age of three years, her parents moved to Lushoto in the Usambara mountains from where she was subsequently sent to primary and secondary schools. Her secondary education was coloured strongly by a distinct love for Physics and Mathematics both which propelled her to distinctive passes and qualification for entry into the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Dar es Salaam in 1980. She undertook the four-year engineering course programme, specializing in civil engineering and surprising many of the observers inside and outside the University as one of the very few female student-engineers in their white liveries. Many will remember that at that time the field of engineering was strongly perceived by many then as the men’s preserve. Yet, with a strong background influence of a loving insistent grandfather—who had himself taken physics and engineering at college—Frannie had acquired all the confidence of walking and working alongside with male engineers as ‘professional builders of the physical planet” in society.

She completed her undergraduate course in 1984 with a BSc honours in Civil Engineering. In the same year of graduation, she proceeded with a two-year postgraduate study in the same field at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the U.S, where she earned a Master of Science in Transportation Engineering (1986). With this qualification thus obtained, Frannie had the possibility and scholarship possibilities to embark on a doctoral programme at the same university. Luckily, this worked for her, getting admission in 1986 for the PhD study in Civil Engineering and completing the programme in 1990.

Her first major work engagement was with the World Bank (WB) in Washington DC (USA) in 1992, when she was appointed Transport Economist in the Infrastructure Division of the World Bank for two years (1992-1994). In the next year (1994-1995), she served as senior economist in the same Division and, subsequently, Director of Infrastructure (1995-1997) with concentration on six Asian countries where she built a cohesive team to deliver on infrastructure projects. From 2000-2001 Dr. Leautier rose to the position of Chief of Staff and Director of the Office of the President of the World Bank Group. For six years (2001-2007), she served as Vice-President for the WB Group as well as head of the World Bank Institute. Altogether, she spent a total of 15 years with the World Bank until 2007, after which, she co-founded an international consulting firm, the Fezembat Group. The firm was formed to provide risk management and support advisory services for the top leadership of companies investing in mining, infrastructure and energy in developing and emerging markets and she served as Managing Partner for two years, 2007-2009. She was at the same time appointed a Distinguished Professor of Leadership in a Globalized World at Sciences Po, a selective research university in Paris, for six continuous years (2007-2013). For its fame, the University at Sciences Po had been established to further values of openness and excellence, where, she taught Master degree courses in international management and leadership. Within the same timeframe, Frannie relocated to HarareZimbabwe, on an appointment as Executive Secretary of the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF), a non-profit African institution with the brief of building and mentoring sustainable human and institutional capacity on the African continent.

Frannie Leautier returned home to Tanzania in December 2013 and immediately helped to co-found Mkoba Private Equity Fund, a private investment firm that was positioned to invest in emerging opportunities on the African continent. She served in the firm also as Partner and Chairwoman for two and a half years until June 2016.

Over the years, Dr. Léautier has served in advisory capacities on boards, councils and committees of very many organizations—including Women’s World Banking, Institute for Security Studies, the African Economic Research Consortium, the International Potato Institute, Nelson Mandela Institution for Science and Technology, the African Development Bank, the Geneva-based Global Agenda Council of the World Economic Forum, and Uongozi Tanzania. With all the roles she has played on both the national and international scenes, it is pleasing to know that Dr. Frannie Léautier has twice been awarded an honorary doctorate, first in 2013 by The North Central CollegeIllinois, USA, and, on the second occasion on 17th July 2019 by Lancaster University, UK, in both cases in recognition of her contribution to international development and to problem-solving on the African continent