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Camille Gutt, Belgium

Tenure: May 6, 1946 – May 5, 1951

Choosing the head of a new institution is never easy. When the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was created, the big question of who would lead it came to the table. After the US candidate Harry D. White was kicked out of the race following espionage accusations, an outsider, the Belgian-born Camille Gutt, filled his space.

Gutt, who was originally a journalist and a jurist, was not an economist, Francois Crombois, an associate professor in political sciences at the American University in Bulgaria and author of "Camille Gutt and Postwar International Finance," told CNBC.

"Gutt was the anti-Strauss-Kahn… he had a very high sense of integrity and honesty, both in political and personal life," Crombois said, adding that Gutt's background is not that dissimilar to Christine Lagarde’s, "but with a businessman side of it."

This businessman image was not to help in the 1930s Europe, especially given Gutt's Jewish origin, but the Belgian managed to hold different ministerial functions during that period.

As finance minister he is credited with helping to save the Belgian franc both before and after the Second World War.

In March 1939, he took the leadership in the decision to transfer part of the Belgian gold reserve away from the Nazi threat, to London, the US and France.

Later, after the war, he conducted a monetary reform to fight inflation which "is now the example of what should be done after liberation," Crombois explained, "it set the example for France’s revaluation and creation of the New Franc in 1959."

Photo: Marie Hansen / Time & Life Pictures / Getty Image