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PROFILES: THREE WOMEN WITH EXTRAORDINARY INFLUENCE

Jolana Petrášová: Counting in a sea of men

When all of the former and current members of the board of directors of Slovnaft, Slovakia's largest oil and gas company, gathered in October, the room was full of men. Except for Jolana Petrášová, the vice-chair of the company's Board of Directors as well as Slovnaft's deputy managing director for economics. "I was the only woman there!" Petrášová said while laughing. Petrášová, who was born in Nová Baňa on September 3, 1953, has worked her way up Slovnaft's ranks since coming on board immediately after her graduation from the Faculty of Economics in Bratislava in 1978. She began as an analyst, but quickly rose to become the head of the accounting department, taking charge of 34 employees.



When all of the former and current members of the board of directors of Slovnaft, Slovakia's largest oil and gas company, gathered in October, the room was full of men. Except for Jolana Petrášová, the vice-chair of the company's Board of Directors as well as Slovnaft's deputy managing director for economics.

"I was the only woman there!" Petrášová said while laughing. Petrášová, who was born in Nová Baňa on September 3, 1953, has worked her way up Slovnaft's ranks since coming on board immediately after her graduation from the Faculty of Economics in Bratislava in 1978. She began as an analyst, but quickly rose to become the head of the accounting department, taking charge of 34 employees.

By 1982, Petrášová had become the chief of Slovnaft's entire accounting section, and two years later she was chosen to be the chief accountant for Slovchemia, a holding company uniting 24 Slovak chemical companies. In 1989, she became the first woman to reach the position of vice president. She now governs a department with 190 employees and controls the finances of a company with an annual turnover of 33.14 billion Sk ($1.1 billion).

Petrášová just shrugs off her meteoric rise, explaining her original attraction to the world of finance with a joke. "An interest in economics and money is a natural quality of women," Petrášová said, "because I think that in 70-80 percent of all households here women deal with the family budget, and I don't think there are big differences between running a company and a family. The numbers are just larger."

Her way to the top, she said, was fairly smooth, but she realizes that not all women have it easy. "I didn't experience any barriers on my way," Petrášová said, "but there were other women who were not given the same opportunities I was."

The hardest thing is saving time for her husband and her 12-year-old daughter. "The company doesn't requires more than just an eight, ten or 12-hour day," she said, "I couldn't be in this function without the support of my family."

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