World Economic Forum on Africa 2009

Regarded as one of the most influential business women globally, South Africa?s Maria Ramos continues to make her mark as a business executive in a male dominated field. Ramos is currently the Group Chief Executive Officer of Barclays Africa, one of the continent?s major financial services providers offering personal and business banking, credit cards, corporate and investment banking, wealth and investment management. She is just one of three women at the helm of leadership at the award winning bank, which is considered one of the top three by revenue in five biggest markets ? South Africa, Kenya, Uganda, Ghana, Botswana and Zambia.

The Portuguese born, South African raised business woman moved to South Africa as a child and attended the University of Witwatersrand, where she received a bachelor?s degree in Commerce. She later moved to the United Kingdom, where she completed a Master?s of Science degree in Economics at the University of London. ?In the early years of her career, Ramos worked as an economist in academia & community services, with stints at the London School of Economics and Political Science, the Macro Economic Research Group and the University of South Africa. In 1996 she was appointed as the Government of South Africa?s Director General of Finance, where she worked closely with Finance Minister Trevor Manuel, a partnership that effectively guided South Africa toward a free-market economic model. She was appointed to the role of Group Chief Executive Officer at Transnet Limited, a rail, port and pipeline company located in Johannesburg. During her time at Transnet, she oversaw a reorganization that included a return to profitability and the disposal of units outside rail, port and pipeline operations. Following her tenure with the transportation and logistics company, she assumed her current role at Barclays Africa Group Limited, at a time when the country was in its first recession in seventeen years.

Ramos continues to receive global recognition ? more recently she was named to Fortune as one of fifty most powerful women in 2014. She previously served as a Non-Executive and Independent Director on the Boards of Sanlam Ltd, Remgro Ltd and SABMiller PLC. She currently serves on the Board of Richemont SA, the Executive Committee of the World Economic Forum?s International Business Council and the Executive Committee of Business Leadership South Africa.

Image: WEF/Eric Miller