Kersti Kaljulaid was the first female President of Estonia, having been elected into office in 2016.
Kersti Kaljulaid was born in 1969 in Tartu and graduated from the University of Tartu in 1992 in the field of genetics in the Faculty of Natural Sciences. Former President Kaljulaid completed her master's studies in the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration in 2001.
From 1994 to 1999, she worked in various Estonian companies: first, as the sales manager of telephone switchboards in Eesti Telefon, later in Hoiupank Markets and Hansapank Markets as an associate in investment banking. From 1999 to 2002, Kersti Kaljulaid was Prime Minister Mart Laar's Economic Advisor. Her duties included the organisation of cooperation of the Office of the Prime Minister with the Estonian central bank, as well as with the Ministry of Finance and other Ministries with larger budgets, as well as the coordination of relations with the International Monetary Fund and other financial institutions (European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Nordic Investment Bank and World Bank). She participated in preparing the pension reform together with the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Social Affairs and advised the Prime Minister in annual budget negotiations held with other ministers.
From 2002 to 2004, Kersti Kaljulaid was the CFO and CEO of the Iru Power Plant of state-owned energy company Eesti Energia.
From 2004 to 2016 she was a Member of the European Court of Auditors. From 2004 to 2006 Kersti Kaljulaid organised the financial audit of the research and development funds of the budget of the European Union and from 2007 to 2010 she was responsible for the audit of the Structural Policies. From 2004 to 2007, she was the auditor of the Galileo project of the European Union.
From 2010 to 2016 she coordinated the preparation of the Annual Report and State of Assurance of the European Court of Auditors. From 2005 to 2007, she was a member of the Europol Audit Committee and chaired the committee in 2007. From 2006 to 2008, she was the chair of the Administrative Affairs Committee of the Court of Auditors. From 2010 to 2014, she was responsible for the methodology and preparation of the Annual Report of the Court of Auditors. In 2016, she worked in the field of the agriculture audit.
In addition, Kersti Kaljulaid was a member of the Supervisory Board of the Estonian Genome Center from 2001 to 2004. She was also a member of the Advisory Board of the University of Tartu from 2009 to 2011 and the Council Chair of the University of Tartu from 2012 to 2016. Kersti Kaljulaid has been a co-author of the social-political radio talk show Keskpäevatund (Midday Hour) in radio station Kuku from 2002 to 2004 and the editor of the Eurominutid (Euro-minutes) radio show from 2007 to 2016 in the same station.
In 2017, Kaljulaid became the first Estonian to be featured in the Forbes magazine's list of The World's 100 Most Powerful Women. In 2021, Kaljulaid served on the advisory panel for the World Bank's World Development Report. Since 2022, she has been co-chairing – alongside Keith J. Krach – the nonpartisan Global Tech Security Commission to safeguard freedom from technological authoritarianism, which was jointly established by the Atlantic Council and the Krach Institute for Tech Diplomacy at Purdue University. In 2023, United Nations Secretary General António Guterres appointed Kaljulaid as co-chair of the United Nations High-Level Panel on the Teaching Profession, alongside Paula-Mae Weekes.
Kaljulaid also serves as an advisor to the Munich Security Conference and Centre for European Reform, among others.
She speaks English, French, and Finnish.