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Maria das Graças Silva Foster also known as “The Iron Lady of Oil” is a Brazilian chemical engineer and the CEO of Petrobras-Petroleo, Brazil’s state-owned oil company.
Maria das Graça Silva Foster was born in Caratinga, Minas Gerais in southeastern Brazil on 26 August 1953.
When she was eight, her family moved from Caratinga to a Favela, known as Complexo do Alemão. This place was hugely overpopulated, poverty-stricken, polluted, ridden with crime and known for drug trafficking.
To pay for her school books, she often collected recyclable trash dumped in the streets.
She would often help immigrants with reading and writing letters to earn money in exchange.
Motivated by her mother to be successful, she graduated in 1978 with a degree in Chemical Engineering. That year she joined Petrobras as an engineering intern in its exploration and production division.
Foster was said to have been the first woman on Petrobras offshore oil platform and installed production equipment.
In the meantime, she also acquired Master’s Degree in Chemical Engineering, a postgraduate degree in nuclear engineering and M.B.A. in economics.
In 2012, she became the CEO of Petrobras and first woman head of a major oil company in the world.
She was one of the most influential people in The Time 100 list. Also, she was recognized the 16th most powerful woman in the world in 2014.
She was also occasionally referred to as “Caveirão”, a type of armored car, for her work ethic.