Maria das Graças Silva Foster

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.

Rags To Riches Story

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      Maria das Graça Silva Foster was born in Caratinga, Minas Gerais in southeastern Brazil on 26 August 1953.

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      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.

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      To pay for her school books, she often collected recyclable trash dumped in the streets.

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      She would often help immigrants with reading and writing letters to earn money in exchange.

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      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.

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      Foster was said to have been the first woman on Petrobras offshore oil platform and installed production equipment.

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      In the meantime, she also acquired Master’s Degree in Chemical Engineering, a postgraduate degree in nuclear engineering and M.B.A. in economics.

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      In 2012, she became the CEO of Petrobras and first woman head of a major oil company in the world.

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      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.

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      She was also occasionally referred to as “Caveirão”, a type of armored car, for her work ethic.