Elected Officials

Below are the bios of the Elected Officials of the Berne Union, including the President, Vice President and Chair and Vice Chair of each of the four Committees.


PRESIDENT
Maëlia Dufour
BPIFRANCE | President of the Berne Union. Chief International Officer Export Insurance.

Over a 30+ year career, Maëlia has developed a deep understanding and worldwide experience on export credit guarantees, dealing with exporters, banks and foreign buyers on commercial and financial projects.

She is in charge of international relations and represents Bpifrance Export Insurance in many conferences, technical workshops, ECAs bilateral meetings, OECD and EU matters. She works on business development and creation of new products for banks and exporters (SMEs and Key Accounts) along with their communication, she manages the rating of foreign companies and banks.

Previously she was Head of Division of Key Accounts (energy and nuclear power, telecom, space, project finance, engineering, buildings, public works and capital goods), Head of Division of Geographic Desks (Africa, Americas, Asia, Europe and Oceania), Head of Division of Paris Club Rescheduling Agreements, Head of Certification ISO 9001 project for the State Guarantees Department, Head of clients requests, quality and statistics department.

She has worked in all the geographic departments of the State Guarantees Directorate as well as in the Military Affairs Department.

VICE PRESIDENT
Benjamin Mugisha
ATI | Chief Underwriting Officer

With 22 years’ DFI and Multilateral experience in Africa, Benjamin is the Chief Underwriting Officer at the African Trade Insurance Agency, a position he has held since July 2020.

He has 12 years’ experience in the insurance industry and has been involved in underwriting transactions across several sectors such as energy, mining, telecommunications, manufacturing and infrastructure for banks, developers, investors and contractors. For 4 years, he was a Senior Underwriter and exhibited leadership in many of the initiatives developed at ATI including RLSF (an energy liquidity facility), a credit wrap solution for African sovereigns and bank portfolio structures for SMEs.

Keenly dedicated to Africa’s development agenda, Benjamin has been an active participant in the Berne Union since 2012. He holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Civil Engineering, a Master of Science Degree in Construction Management, a Master’s Degree in Business Administration as well as a Post Graduate Certificate in Project Planning and Finance.

ECA COMMITTEE CHAIR
Isabel Galdiz
US EXIMBANK | Vice President, International Relations

A leading expert on export credit policy matters, Isabel manages US EXIM international engagements across a spectrum of institutions, including OECD, Berne Union, G7/G12/G20 and, the International Working Group on export financing.

Isabel joined the Export-Import Bank of the United States in 1992 and has in the intervening years supported or represented the bank in negotiations and international engagement on a broad range of export credit topics including energy finance, content, anti-corruption, data, outreach and environmental issues.

She is one of the primary authors of US EXIM Competitiveness Report to Congress, a chief publication on export credit competitiveness and in 2011, she co-authored a contribution for the OECD publication entitled “Smart Rules for Fair Trade: 50 years of Export Credits”.

At the Berne Union Isabel has contributed to a range of efforts, including Management Committee Restructuring, Prague Club integration; Data Task Force and Outreach Task Force.

Isabel earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations from la Universidad Nacional de Rosario, Argentina in 1991. In 1997, she earned a Master of Arts in International Finance and Transactions from the School of Public Policy, George Mason University.

MLT COMMITTEE CHAIR
Edith Quintrell
LIBERTY | -Underwriting Development Director

Edie is the Director of Underwriting Development, Financial Risk Solutions, at Liberty Specialty Markets, a London-based subsidiary of Liberty Mutual Insurance Group. Based in Washington, DC, her role is to expand relationships globally with export credit agencies, development finance institutions and multilateral organizations.

From 2007-2015 Edie served as Director of the Operations Group of the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), the political risk insurance arm of the World Bank Group. Prior to joining MIGA, she held various senior level positions at the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) from 1991 to 2007, including Vice President for Insurance.

Edie has been involved in the Berne Union for more than 15 years, representing OPIC (USDFC), MIGA and currently Liberty Specialty Markets. She holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and Latin American studies from Princeton University, and a master’s degree in international affairs from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Edie was a Fulbright Scholar at the Universidad de los Andes in Bogota, Colombia.

ST COMMITTEE CHAIR
Katarzyna Kowalska
KUKE S.A. | Vice-President

Katarzyna has been an executive board member in KUKE S.A. (Polish ECA) since June 2016

She is responsible for Risk Underwriting, IT, Change Management,Policy Underwriting, Debt Collection and Claims.

In particular she has been personally responsible for leading the change management around KUKE's digitalisation.

Before joining KUKE she was a Business Developer in the payments industry, responsible for Central and Eastern European countries. She also worked in delivering IT services as a business analyst for banks and interbank institutions, including central banks and clearing houses.

PC COMMITTEE CHAIR
Josef Jirkal
EGAP | International Relations Department Director

EGAP Czech Republic| Director International Relations Department Josef has been the Director of the International Relations Department at EGAP since 2015. He is the head of the delegation representing the Czech Republic in the EU and the OECD and generally manages EGAP's international relations, including Berne Union affairs.

Before joining EGAP, Josef held various positions in the areas of External and International relations. He has experience as a Chair of the Council Working Group during his diplomatic service for the Czech Republic at the Permanent Representation to the EU.

ECA COMMITTEE VICE CHAIR
Yuichiro Akita
NEXI | General Manager

Yuichiro Akita is NEXI’s General Manager, Planning and Policy Department, who oversees all aspects of NEXI’s business, with extensive experiences in banking sector and export credit.

Prior to joining NEXI, he worked for MUFG for 7 years in corporate finance and cross-border project finance at the bank. Since he joined NEXI in 2003, he was appointed to lead underwriting teams, in the sectors such as infrastructure, aircraft, power and mining for over 10 years.

He also had various managerial experiences at corporate planning divisions covering strategic planning and international relations. He has served as a negotiator in the matter of OECD and engaged in governmental policy coordination during his secondment to Cabinet Secretariat of Government of Japan.

Through his career at NEXI, he has actively developed NEXI’s international relations, through expansion of reinsurance business with ECAs, promotion of regional cooperation in Asia and Pacific region by hosting BU RCG CEO meeting in Tokyo and bilateral meetings, and strengthening of relationships with African multilateral agencies.

He holds an MBA from Manchester Business School, MSc in Development Finance from SOAS, University of London, and LLB from Hokkaido University. He is a member of the Japan Society for International Development.

MLT COMMITTEE VICE CHAIR
Zishan Iqbal
ECI | Director Murabaha Solutions

In his current role, Zishan spearheads ECI’s Medium & Long-Term department responsible for Buyer’s Credit, Supplier’s Credit, Project Finance and Political Risk solutions supporting UAE companies’ international growth. Zishan also heads ECI's Shariah Compliant Trade Credit and Political risk solutions function.

Over the last two decades, Zishan has held vital positions in established financial institutions including Country Head of Trade Sales, Client Management and Structured Solutions at the Saudi British Bank (SABB-HSBC).

Previously, he was heading Business Acquisition Division at ICIEC – Islamic Corporation for Insurance of Investment and Export Credit responsible for expanding into 25 OIC countries where he managed to increase the portfolio by 70% spanning across multiple products. Prior to that, he has also been an asset to institutions like Bank Al-Bilad, E.A. Juffali & Brothers, MCB Bank and American Express Bank.

ST COMMITTEE VICE CHAIR
Jean-Paul Steenbeke
CREDENDO | Deputy General Manager

Jean-Paul is Deputy CEO of Credendo STN, responsible for Sales, Marketing and IT, since April 2014.

Prior to this he has held a nomber of other positions within Credendo, including Head of Sales and Account Management, Team Head of a mixed group of underwriters and commercial managers. Prior to this he worked as an Office Manager at Bacob Bank.

He holds a degree in International Marketing management from the University Diepenbeek and is a qualifed commercial engineer with a degree from the University of Antwerp.

PC COMMITTEE VICE CHAIR
Amal Jaradat
JLGC | Deputy Director General

Amal Jaradat is the Deputy Director General at Jordan Loan Guarantee Corporation. She started her work alongside JLGC in August, 2013 as a JLGC Project Manager with International Finance Corporation (IFC). During the project time frame, she was in charge of managing the industrial finance department. By November, 2017 she was assigned to be in charge of managing export credit insurance & domestic sales dept. Prior to joining JLGC, she had 17 years of banking experience at the Bank of Jordan; her career progressed as she was promoted to various positions, leaving as the Retail Credit Review Officer/ Assistant Manager. Mrs. Jaradat is the representative in multiple conferences, annual meetings and workshops inside & outside of the country. Amal Jaradat is currently a member of the steering committee (Project Sponsor) for the digital transformation for JLGC. Additionally, she is member in the GET ON BOARD (The Next Generation of FEMALE BOARD MEMBERS) 2nd Cohort Advisors. Furthermore, she is a trainer in the field of SMEs at Institute of Banking Studies.