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Maria Ramos, Chief Executive Officer, Absa Group Limited

Maria Ramos is Chief Executive Officer of Absa Group Limited, a diversified financial services group with operations in 12 African markets.

Before joining Absa (previously Barclays Africa Group Ltd) as Group Chief Executive in March 2009, she served as the Chief Executive of Transnet Ltd, the state-owned freight transport and logistics service provider, for five years. This followed a seven-year tenure as Director-General of the National Treasury.

An accomplished academic who has taught at various institutions, Ms 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 Honors in Economics (also from Wits) in 1987 and a Master of Science (Economics) from the University of London in 1992.

She is also a recipient of honorary doctorates from the Stellenbosch and Free State universities. Ms Ramos led Transient 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 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.

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.

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 Boards of Compagnie Financiere Richemont SA and Business Unity South Africa.

She is also a member of the Group of Thirty; the Global Board of Advisors, Council on Foreign Relations (U.S.) and the World Economic Forum’s International Business Council.