Oil Change

Mar 1, 2012

The market largely cheered the appointment of Maria Das Graças Foster as the new CEO of Petrobras. The career engineer faces many challenges ahead.

by Ben Miller

When news of Maria Das Graças Foster’s appointment as the new CEO of Petrobas emerged on January 23, the Brazilian oil company’s stock closed that day 3.5% higher. The positive market response confirmed investors’ high comfort levels with the decision. It also addressed the question of whether José Sérgio Gabrielli’s replacement as CEO would be an oil specialist or political appointee. The answer seems to be both.

Foster certainly has the work experience and strong track record to support the decision to put her at the head of what is one of the world’s top five oil companies, making her the first woman ever to hold such a position. "Graça," as Foster is known, comes from Petrobras’s natural gas and energy division, but has sat in a variety of posts since she started at the company as an intern in 1978.

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