When Kristalina Georgieva became managing director of the International Monetary Fund last year, she brought unique experiences to the role. The first IMF head from an emerging market, she grew up in Bulgaria when it was a Soviet satellite state. Unlike her predecessor, France’s Christine Lagarde, who now leads the European Central Bank, and most of the 10 men who came before them, Georgieva didn’t build her reputation at a finance ministry or central bank. Instead, the environmental economist spent her career in academia, at the World Bank, and at the European Commission. But she says that prepared her well for what the IMF calls the “Great Lockdown”—the biggest economic shock since the Great Depression. As the Covid-19 pandemic halted business activity around the world, the organization fielded emergency loan requests from more than half of its 189 members, the most in its history. Seeking inspiration, Georgieva spent her 67th birthday this summer at the Bretton Woods, N.H., hotel where the IMF and World Bank were born in 1944. She spoke with Bloomberg Markets on Sept. 11 about her background, the challenges the IMF is confronting, and her commitment to building a greener and fairer world economy.