By STEVEN NALLEY
In 1996, Ruth Crowell Wild had to make a difficult decision which ended up changing her life.
At that time, Paula Mabry was still teaching theatre and speech at Starkville High School, where Wild was a junior. Wild had the chance to study abroad in Vise, Belgium for one year, but Mabry said Wild also had her talents as a basketball player and actress to consider.
“She knew that losing a year with the team would cost her a starting position during her senior year,” Mabry said. “(She) was conflicted about leaving the basketball team. My very direct advice to her was that the opportunity to live in another country for a year with the Rotary Exchange Club program would benefit her future in ways that she could not comprehend as a rising junior in high school.”
In the end, Wild chose the year in Belgium, becoming the first Rotary Exchange student from Mississippi to study abroad. Wild said it was a year without which she would not be who she is today.
In June, Wild was named deputy chief executive of the London Bullion Market Association and took charge of strategic commercial development for a global financial institution.
According to its website, the LBMA represents a London, England-based center for the international over-the-counter market for gold and silver, with producers, refiners, fabricators and central banks around the world in its client base. Wild has worked with LBMA for six years, and she now serves as LBMA’s main contact for regulatory affairs and represents LBMA at industry, governmental and multi-stakeholder regulatory forums.
Wild said it all began in Belgium.
“It was very challenging to leave home and get on my first flight to Europe, but I’m so glad I did,” Wild said. “Studying in Belgium was instrumental in my decision to work abroad. It inspired my love of travel and learning about cultures very different from our own.”
Wild went on to get her undergraduate degree in English literature from Kenyon College in Ohio and a master’s degree in the history of international relations from the London School of Economics. She said the most important components of her education came from SHS and its incredible teachers, strong extracurricular program and unforgettable community involvement.
“In particular, the public speaking skills and confidence I learned from Mrs. Mabry and Mrs. (Donna Luther) Wright’s drama classes have been instrumental in my success. Before doing drama at SHS, I was always shy,” Wild said. “Now, I regularly speak to large audiences and deal directly with government officials and leaders at international organizations (World Bank, U.N., U.S. State Department, etc). Most recently, I acted as co-chair of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Due Diligence Guidance Meeting on conflict gold, something I would have never thought I could have done before acting at SHS.”
Wild said she discovered LBMA while seeking employment with a temporary work agency after getting her master’s degree. The agency got her a job as personal assistant to the LBMA’s chief executive, she said, and at first, she wasn’t sure what to think.
“When the agency told me “London Bullion Market Association,” I thought it might have something to do with soup (bullion cubes, etc.),” Wild said. “Being a history buff, I was intrigued to find out that the LBMA looks after a 300-year-old gold market which is physically based in London (that’s where all the bars are kept) but which is truly global. I was initially there on a contract for three months, where my primary responsibility was event management and, of course, office (administration). After the contracted three months were up, the LBMA kept having me back until I came on full time in 2007. When I joined, I was informed I was running a 400-plus-(person) conference in India in three weeks.”
Wild has also interned with the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in Geneva, working for a non-government organization called U.N. Watch and monitoring the commission’s plenary sessions. While in Geneva, she said, interaction with ambassadors was not limited to official U.N. functions.
“Geneva is a tiny place, so you have the opportunity to run into very important people in everyday settings all the time,” Wild said. “You never know who you could be talking to. My favorite (encounter) was running into one of the U.S. ambassadors while watching basketball. He was originally from Alabama, so we instantly bonded. It wasn’t until the next day at the U.N. I actually found out how important he was.”
Between studying abroad in Belgium, interning with the U.N. and working in London, Wild has built much of her adult life abroad.
In fact, Wild’s father, Lorenzo Crowell, said Wild hasn’t lived in the U.S. since graduating from Kenyon, but she is not out of touch. He said she still comes home for Christmas, and new technology has made it cheaper and easier to talk by phone than before.
“She comes home and says, ‘What can I do to help?’” Crowell said. “She’s a jewel as far as her daddy’s concerned. I think (her new position at LBMA is) just terrific, well deserved, and I know she’s doing a good job.”
Crowell said he is also a firm believer in the foundation SHS built for Wild. Wild said her parents were another key component to this foundation.
“My parents encouraged me to take as many challenging classes as I could and stay fully involved (in) extracurricular activities, particularly sports,” Wild said. “My parents have always encouraged me to do much more than the minimum and to dream a little bigger.”
As such, Wild said there are days she gets homesick. She said she loves Starkville and is happy to come home each Christmas, but she also loves her job and her life in London.
“I feel really fortunate to have found something I really enjoy doing,” Wild said. “I mean, there are always tough parts. My dad always says, ‘If it was all fun, they wouldn’t have to pay you to do it.’ I still plan to move home to the U.S. eventually. (I) just want to enjoy travelling a little while longer.”