Back to Leadership
He qualifies as a non-executive director and previously served as the Chair of the Board until 10 June 2020.
Dr Van Zyl is an expert in insurance, financial markets, investments, general business, human resources, marketing and international business. He has a keen interest in economic development and has published widely on a variety of topics related to, in particular, rural development and agriculture in South Africa, the broader Southern African region, Eastern Europe and South America. He is the author of more than 300 academic journal articles and several books.
Dr Van Zyl’s major external positions, directorships and associations include African Rainbow Capital, Ubuntu-Botho Investments and the Vumelana Advisory Fund, of which he is the chair. He is a non-executive director for Rain Group Holdings (Pty) Ltd; Blou Bulle Maatskappy; Neil Ellis Wines (Pty) Ltd and Aenigma Investments Holdings (Pty) Ltd.
After having worked for the South African government and NAMPO as an economist, Dr Van Zyl taught Agricultural Economics at the University of Pretoria from 1983 to 1994, during which time he was appointed as Dean of Natural and Agricultural Sciences. He subsequently spent two years at the World Bank as co-ordinator of Rural Development. In 1996, he became Vice-chancellor and Principal of the University of Pretoria. In 2001 he joined Santam as Chief Executive. In 2003 he was appointed Group Chief Executive Officer of Sanlam, a position he held until 2015.
Dr Van Zyl originally trained as an agricultural economist and holds two doctorates – a PhD in Economics (Vista) and a DSc in Agriculture (Pretoria).