The inspiring young Brazilian woman leading a multinational giant in Oman

07 September 2018 4 min. read

At just 34 years of age, Brazilian national Claudia Vergueiro Massei was this year appointed to lead the Omani operations of German multinational firm Siemens – one of the largest industrial manufacturing companies in the world.

According to a Grant Thornton study from earlier this year, the percentage of senior roles in Brazil held by women has increased from 15 percent in 2015 to 29 percent last year – figures which place Brazil well ahead of the global average and eclipsing both the EU and North America. This is a particularly pleasing development with respect to the nation’s oft-cited culture of workplace machismo.

Brazilian women were also found in a survey conducted last year by global executive recruitment constancy Egon Zehnder to be the world’s most ambitious, with 92 percent of Brazilian women who were starting out their careers stating aspirations for future senior leadership and executive roles – compared to 62 percent of their counterparts in the United States and just 56 percent of young British women.

Still, over half of the survey respondents from Brazil reported a belief that it is more challenging for a woman to be promoted to senior management than it is for men. Yet, while there’s certainly a long way to go to achieve gender parity, Brazil can rightly celebrate the achievements of its female business leaders, especially those who have blazed a trial in the tech or historically male-dominated sectors.

Just to name a few of the high-profile examples: Cristina Palmaka; President of SAP in Brazil. Paula Bellizia; General Manager of Microsoft Brazil. Claudia Sender; President of LATAM Airlines Brazil. Adriana Machado; one time CEO of General Electric in Brazil. And of course, Maria das Graças Foster; former CEO of Petrobas, the first woman worldwide to head up a major oil & gas company.

The inspiring young Brazilian woman leading a multinational giant in Oman

These successful female leaders would have no doubt inspired the coming generation of aspirational young women, but the achievements of one such rising star in the business world may have been somewhat overlooked in her country of birth; Claudia Vergueiro Massei, an ex-Deloitte consultant who in April was tapped at just 34 years of age to take over as the new CEO of Oman for multinational firm Siemens.

While the Sultanate of Oman may be a long way removed from Brazil, and off the radar for many, leading Siemens in the country is certainly nothing to be sneezed at. The German energy, tech and engineering giant – which last year pulled in over $83 billion in global revenue – produces over 50 percent of Oman’s electrical power, while more than 90 percent of the nation’s industrial plants are equipped with the firm’s technology.

Furthermore, Massei has taken the helm at a time of rapid regional transformation, with the nations of the GCC including Oman embarking on ambitious economic diversification programmes to shake their dependence on oil. For Oman, this entails a heavy investment in developing its downstream manufacturing and petrochemical refining sectors, as well as a tilt toward wind-powered electricity generation; two growth areas of particular interest for Siemens.

Indeed, according to a press statement from Siemens at the time, Massei was tasked on her appointment with driving the firm’s key growth areas in the country, including power generation, transmission and distribution, along with smart building technologies and digital transformation and automation. This is a great deal of faith shown in a young leader, in a country itself only just beginning to make cultural inroads into gender diversity in leadership.

But Siemens has good reason to be confident. Massei – who holds an Aeronautical Engineering Degree from Instituto Tecnologico de Aeronautica in São Paulo and an MBA/MA in Multinational Management and International Studies from Wharton – has been with the firm since 2013 as part of its CEO Excellence Programme, undertaking assignments in China and throughout Europe and Africa.

Prior to joining Siemens, Massei initially developed her business and strategy acumen as a Senior Consultant for three and a half years with Monitor Deloitte, working across Paris, Johannesburg and São Paulo with a focus on the mining, construction and resource sectors. She also found time to co-found an educational tech company, QMagico, in her native Brazil, and notes on her LinkedIn profile that in her spare time she enjoys mentoring young entrepreneurs – inspiring as such the next generation of young Brazilian business leaders in turn.