Petrobras' president, José Sergio Gabrielli de Azevedo, mentioned that "Petrobras, through the late 1970's, wouldn't hire women engineers, and now we have a women engineer as a director, something that makes of this act an evolution of great symbolic meaning." The Special Secretariat for Women's Policies, Nilceia Freire, who also attended the event, said that "the major difference is that in the past, women couldn't be engineers at Petrobras, precisely for being women, and now a woman reaches the position of director at Petrobras for her competency and on her own merits."
Ms. Graca is a career Petrobras professional, a company she was first hired to work at as an engineering intern in 1978. Holding a Master's Degree in Nuclear Engineering from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (COPPE/UFRJ), and an MBA in Economics from the Getulio Vargas Foundation, since May 2006 she had been serving as the President of Petrobras Distribuidora S.A. In September 2005, she took-over as the president of Petroquisa, a position she accumulated with that of Director for Investor Relations for that company. Simultaneously, she was also the Executive Manager for Petrochemicals and Fertilizers, connected to Petrobras' Downstream Board.
In his speech, Gabrielli mentioned the three remarkable characteristics Maria das Graças Foster has which are appropriate for the current stage of the Gas & Energy area, a new segment in the Brazilian energy matrix and in the company: her obsession for making projects advance; her uncommon skill of organizing change-oriented ideas and information systematically; and the fact she is extremely disciplined, fundamental to implement and follow-up on actions. These are important qualities to manage the gas chain, the regulation of which is now being set in place and which must be analyzed as a whole, concluded Petrobras' president.
"I will also use my capabilities of carrying through with projects, which is what I know how to do, in order to, together with this extraordinary team of professionals who came from several technical segments within Petrobras, develop the Gas & Energy Area's business," said the director in her speech.
From January 2003 to May 2006, Ms. Graca was the Mines & Energy Ministry's Secretary for Oil, Natural Gas, and Renewable Fuels, where she also performed as the Interministerial coordinator for the Federal Government's Biodiesel Program and as the National Executive Secretary for the Federal Government's Program for the National Oil Industry's Mobilization (PROMINP).
Previously, she had already held management positions at the Gas & Energy Business Unit and at the Leopoldo Miguez de Mello Research & Development Center (CENPES), at Petrobras, and at the Transportadora Brasileira do Gasoduto Bolívia-Brasil (TBG).
In his speech, Petrobras' president also thanked engineer Ildo Luis Sauer, who had held the position of Gas & Energy Director for four and a half years, for his invaluable contribution to this new segment in the company, in formulating its policies, in deciding new paths, and in doing the groundwork for the conditions Maria das Graças will face.
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