South African Woman Economist Defies Limits

Maria Ramos South Africa The Way Women WorkMaria Ramos is a South African economist who has the Midas touch when it comes to finance.

While  studying economics at the University of the Witwatersrand, she heard about a men-only scholarship offered by Barclays Bank, where she worked as a clerk to pay for her education; she lobbied for the prize anyway, and in 1983 she won the Barclays Bank Graduate Scholarship and attended the University of London.

Her career in finance would take off in 1990 when she accepted a position as an economist for the African National Congress’s Department of  Economic Planning. By 1996 she was appointed as the country’s  director general of finance. In 2004, Maria became CEO of state-owned transportation company Transnet, which flourished under her leadership causing the world to take notice. Fortune magazine ranked her as one of the most powerful women in international business for four straight years. Today she is the Group Chief Executive of ABSA Group, a subsidiary of Barclays Bank, one of South Africa’s largest  financial services groups, a position she has held since 2009.

She also serves on several boards including the executive committees of the  Business Trust (South Africa), the International Business Council, the World Bank Chief Economist Advisory Panel, Business Leadership South Africa, and the Banking Association of South Africa.

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