Maria Ramos is the CEO of Absa Group, majority-owned by Barclays and South Africa’s largest bank. She’s had a diverse and successful career in the public and private economic sectors of South Africa. Ramos worked for the government in past-apartheid South Africa before landing her role at Absa. Here are 8 things you didn’t know about Absa CEO Maria Ramos.
Ramos earned a degree in economics a the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg and later went on to teach the subject at her alma mater and at the University of South Africa. She’s had a busy academic life, also receiving honorary doctorates from the Stellenbosch University and the University of the Free State according to Forbes.com.
Ramos is married to South African politician Trevor Manuel, who served as Minister of Finance from 1996 to 2009. The two met while Manuel was still married to his previous wife. They were private about their relationship for years. In 2008, Manuel raised eyebrows when he thanked Ramos in a public speech. They were still trying to keep their relationship a secret, according to Fin24.com. Later that year, they set their wedding date.
Ramos was born in Portugal. When she was a child Ramos’ parents moved her and her three siblings to Mozambique. During elementary school, the family moved to a town in Gauteng, where Ramos and her sisters walked three kilometers to school every day, says News24.com.
When Ramos was still studying at university, she worked as a clerk at Barclays to pay for her education. During her time there, she learned of an all men’s scholarship offered by the bank. Ramos lobbied to have the bank offer the scholarship to women, and eventually won the Barclays Bank Graduate Scholarship, according to Britannica.com.
After working several positions in public and private banking, Ramos became an economist for the African National Congress’ Department of Economic Planning. She eventually become the South African director general of finance, and took several steps towards turning the country into a free market economic model, says Britannica.com.
In 2004, Ramos became the CEO of Transnet, South Africa’s government owned transit operator for freight logistics. When she took her position at the company, Transnet was in significant debt. Ramos worked to sell off the company’s liabilities and kept the most critical and lucrative assets. One of her most controversial moves was divesting of the national carrier, South African Airways, which split off to become an independent airline, although still government owned. Ramos managed to bring Transnet profits up 57 percent during her time at the company, according to Aabschools.com.
Ramos told News24.com that her mentor in life was her mother, who instilled in her “deep values, a sense of hard work and a love for reading” and her inspiration has been Nelson Mandela, who taught her about “humility, integrity, and passion.”
When asked what life lesson she would like to impart to people, she said, “Life is an adventure. It’s about learning, stretching yourself, inspiring and being inspired.” She also said she believes knowledge of history is critical to understanding the world today, according to City-press.news24.com.
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