31 January 2019

South Africa's Top Woman CEO Retires - Where Will Ramos Go Now?

Photo: World Economic Forum/Wikimedia Commons
Maria Ramos at the World Economic Forum (file photo)

Cape Town — The retirement announcement of Absa Group CEO Maria Ramos has sparked speculation about what could be next for "the fixer", who was part of the national treasury in 1994, and went on to head up Transnet and lead Absa for 10 years.

Some of Ramos's work at the banking group included a change in Employment Equity policies, increasing both the number of black women and men in senior management positions. She also ensured that Transnet went through a restructuring process while she was at the helm.

Her current employer is in the process of finalising a rebranding which was initially rolled out in South Africa and Uganda, and the rest of the continent's branches (still named Barclays) will follow by 2020.

Ramos has reportedly always worked well with Tito Mboweni, the former Reserve Bank governor, who is now the finance minister. The rumour mill has it that she may move to the South African Revenue Services, which has been in a shambles since the firing of SARS chief Tom Moyane by President Cyril Ramaphosa, after numerous corruption charges emerged. A good support between SARS and the Treasury would augur well for the country's economy.

It is said that Ramos and Mark Kinghon, who is the interim head at SARS, would make a good team, with Kinghon saying he would remain at SARS even if he doesn't get the top job.

So if the speculation is anything to go by, when Ramos turns 60, she is unlikely have time to sit back and relax.

However, her retirement also leaves a hole in the list of women heading up top companies listed at the Johannesburg Securities Exchange.

Ramos will be replaced as interim CEO by René van Wyk from March 1, the company said in a statement on Tuesday.

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