glo-09-15-15-e11-maria-ramos Maria Ramos is the Chief Executive Officer of Barclays Africa Group Limited. Prior to joining Absa as Group Chief Executive in March 2009, she was the Group Chief Executive of Transnet Ltd.This was after successfully serving as Director-General of the National Treasury.
Ramos was born in Portugal. Her parent’s emigrated to Mozambique and then South Africa with their three children in the mid 60s in search of better opportunities. The oldest of these, Maria was just six when they began their new life in Vereeniging. Ramos matriculated in 1977 and went to work for Barclays in Vereeniging as a waste clerk, which involved collecting all the paperwork, such as deposit slips and cheques, from behind the tellers and manually processing them.
Imagining that a bank would have some form of scholarship available, Ramos discovered that they had a great scholarship scheme where they sent employees to university to do a Commerce degree. Upon applying, she discovered that it was only open to men. A long battle ensued, with Ramos surmounting various obstacles in her attempt to get the rules changed; eventually she was told that if she sat the basic exams and passed, they would consider her. So she duly drove from Vereeniging to Johannesburg three nights a week after work to evening classes held by the Institute of Bankers, and passed the exam in record time, earning herself a Banker’s Diploma.

Academic life

An accomplished academic, who has taught at various institutions, Ramos obtained an Institute of Bankers’ Diploma (CAIB) in 1983. She followed this with a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) in 1986, a Bachelor of Commerce Honours in Economics (also from Wits) in 1987 and a Master of Science (Economics) from the University of London in 1992.

Business life

Maria Ramos is the Chief Executive Officer of Barclays Africa Group Limited. Ramos has responsibility for executing the Group’s Africa strategy across 13 African operations, serving some 12 million customers through 11,910 outlets. Prior to joining Absa as Group Chief Executive in March 2009, she was the Group Chief Executive of Transnet Ltd, the state-owned freight transport and logistics service provider for five years. This was after successfully serving as Director-General of the National Treasury for seven years. She has in the past served as a non-executive and independent director on the boards of Sanlam Ltd, Remgro Ltd and SABMiller PLC, and currently serves on the Board of Richemont SA. She is the current Chairman of the Banking Association of South Africa, a member of the Executive Committee of the World Economic Forum’s International Business Council and on the Board of Business Leadership South Africa.

Accolades

Ramos is a recipient of honorary doctorates from the Stellenbosch and Free State universities. Ramos led Transnet through a massive financial, cultural and operational turnaround. During her tenure as Director-General of the National Treasury (formerly the Department of Finance), she played a key role in transforming the Treasury into one of the most effective and efficient state departments in the post-apartheid administration. She has successively been ranked in Fortune magazine’s annual survey of the 50 most powerful women in business for a number of years running, having most recently been ranked 11th in the EMEA Region for 2015. Her contribution has been recognized through numerous awards. She was named CNBC Africa Woman Leader of the Year (2011), and was awarded the Wits Business School’s Management Excellence Award (2010). She was named the Sunday Times Business Times Business Leader of the Year in 2005 and Businesswoman of the Year by the SA Businesswomen’s Association in 2001.

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