Influential Leaders

Angel Gurría

Angel Gurría

University of Leeds, Leeds University Business School

Public Policy

Angel Gurría has served as the secretary-general of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) since 2006. Born in Mexico, Gurría graduated with an MA in Development Economics from the University of Leeds in 1974. Under his leadership, the OECD has helped governments around the world foster prosperity and fight poverty.

Gurría has reinforced the OECD's role as a hub for global dialogue and debate on economic policy issues while pursuing internal modernization and reform. Under his leadership, the OECD has expanded its membership to include Chile, Estonia, Israel, and Slovenia and opened accession talks with Colombia, Costa Rica, Latvia, and Lithuania. The organization has also strengthened links with other major emerging economies with a view toward possible membership. The OECD is now an active participant in both the G-7 and the G-20 Summit processes, as well as other international fora. As secretary-general, Gurría has launched high-profile initiatives in the domains of innovation, green growth, gender, development, and skills.

Gurría previously served as the Mexican Secretary of Foreign Affairs (1994–97), where he opposed the Helms-Burton Act, and while serving in the Treasury, he restructured the foreign debt. He also took part in negotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and negotiated financial aid programs during the 1994 currency crisis. Gurría made dialogue and consensus building two of the hallmarks of his approach to global issues. From 1998 to 2000, he served as Mexico’s minister of finance and public credit. For the first time in a generation, he steered Mexico’s economy through a change of administration without a recurrence of the financial crises that had previously dogged such changes.

Gurría has participated in various international not-for-profit bodies, including the Population Council in New York and the Center for Global Development in Washington, D.C. He chaired the International Task Force on Financing Water for All and continues to be deeply involved in water issues through his membership on the United Nations Secretary General Advisory Board and the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Water Security. He is a member of the International Advisory Board of Governors of the Centre for International Governance Innovation in Canada and was the first recipient of the Globalist of the Year Award from the Canadian International Council, honoring his efforts as a global citizen to promote transnationalism, inclusiveness, and global consciousness. He is also a member of the advisory board for the Global Green Growth Forum (3GF) and was recently appointed as a member of the Royal Academy of Economic and Financial Sciences of Spain. Further, he has served as a commissioner for the Broadband Commission for Digital Development, which leverages broadband technologies as a key enabler for social and economic development.

In an inaugural lecture to Leeds University Business School alumni, Gurría concluded, “Change is always possible, but we need new ideas to propel it. As decision-makers, we need to keep tuned and updated to the effervescence of ideas of institutions … we have to constantly upgrade our conceptual framework.”