37-year-old Sibeth Ndiaye is making a name for herself as the communications advisor to French President Emmanuel Macron. Born in Dakar, she quickly found herself in the world of politics after moving to Paris and becoming involved with the National Union of Students of France (UNEF) while studying health economics at Paris-Sorbonne University. She joined the French Socialist Party in 2002, ultimately becoming the secretary in charge of early childhood.
Ndiaye eventually made a name for herself on the national political stage when the current President of the National Assembly, Claude Bartolone, made her the head of the press service of the Seine-Saint-Denis General Council. She later worked for French politician Arnaud Montebourg in a similar role, where she became acquainted with Macron who eventually succeeded Montebourg as the Minister for Economy, Industry and Digital Affairs in 2014.
A role model
Although Macron’s wife Brigitte is widely known as his main confidant, Ndiaye was also heavily involved in his PR campaign throughout the election, granting or denying the media access to the presidential candidate for interviews and managing his image in what turned out to be one of the most divisive French elections in recent history. Ndiaye was even ranked ninth out of the fifteen most important personalities who were closest to Macron during his campaign.
In a recent interview with weekly news magazine Jeune Afrique, Ndiaye said she did not officially become a French citizen until June 2016 – and that was “after a long hesitation.” When questioned over her status as a role model for young African women who are considering a career in politics, she was reluctant to accept the title.
“I do not see myself as a role model at all. My professional career was built upon encounters with people who trusted me …this leads me to believe that my success is because of my contact with the right people, people who do not see skin color, social origin or education background.”
Still, many agree that Macron owes much of his recent success to the work of Ndiaye – and she will likely continue to play an important role in his term as president.
First important job
As Macron heads to Berlin on Monday only a day after his inauguration in order to meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Ndiaye will have plenty on her plate as she manages the president’s first major international meeting.
The German media have already begun reporting that a Macron presidency may end up costing Germany more money as he pushes for deeper economic ties between European Union member nations.
Macron is also expected to move quickly on the domestic front on his first full day in office, and is likely to unveil his choice for prime minister, which will be crucial in further cementing confidence among the French population and healing divisions which were highlighted during his hard-fought campaign.