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Prof. Shirley Zinn

Prof. Shirley Zinn

Chair: HR Committee. Independent Non-executive Director.

Nationality: South African

Year of birth: 1961

Director since 2018.

Prof. Zinn has been a member of the Board of Directors since December 2018. She qualifies as an independent non-executive director. The Board has appointed her as an expert in human resources as well as ethics governance.

She is also an extraordinary professor at the University of Pretoria’s Department of Human Resource Management, and has recently been appointed as Adjunct Professor at the University of Cape Town. She is registered as Master HR Professional with the South African Board for People Practices.

Prof. Zinn is currently a non-executive director on the Boards of JSE-listed ADvTECH (Lead Independent and Chair of Remco). She also serves as a director on the Boards of Tuesday Consulting, Empowerment Capital, Knowledge Resources, Business Engage, Community Chest and the Boston Consulting Group SA. In addition, she is HR Adviser to the Board of Silvertree Internet Holdings. She also serves on the Takeover Regulation Panel Board and on the Council of the University of Cape Town. She is a trustee on the Nedbank Eyethu Community Trust, ambassador for the Orbis Africa Charity, and the former chair of Starfish Greathearts Foundation. She also serves on the Advisory Boards of Monash South Africa, and the University of Pretoria’s Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences.

Prof. Zinn was recently appointed as the patron for the South African Council of Business Women. She is a coach and mentor to several women across multiple industries and has presented at numerous national and international conferences as a keynote speaker.


Prof. Zinn hails from the Cape Flats in Cape Town, started her career as a secondary school teacher of English and then moved to the University of the Western Cape where she lectured in Teacher Education. After this, she served at Southern Life as Training Manager and then moved to the South African Management Development Institute’s Department of Public Service and Administration in Pretoria, where she served as Director. Before her appointment at SARS, she filled the role of Regional Human Resources Director for the Middle East and Africa for Reckitt Benckiser, a global company listed on the London Stock Exchange.

Prof. Zinn is the past president of the Institute for People Management in South Africa as well as for the Harvard Alumni Association South Africa. She previously served as the chair of the Institute of Bankers. She is the former chair of DHL: Global Forwarding SA and also the former group head of Human Resources at Woolworths Holdings Limited. Prior to this, she was Head of Human Resources at Standard Bank South Africa and Deputy Global Head of Human Resources for the Standard Bank Group. She also registered her own company, Shirley Zinn Consulting, which provides consulting and advisory services in HR, transformation, leadership and education. Prior to this, she was the group executive HR at Nedbank and General Manager for Human Resources at the South African Revenue Service (SARS).

Prof. Zinn was awarded the Top Woman in Business and Government and Top Executive in Corporate South Africa by Topco Media in 2008. She was also recognised by the Black Business Quarterly and received the Award for Top Woman in Business and Government and Most Visionary Woman in 2008. She also received an award from the World Human Resources Congress in Mumbai in 2007 and 2013 respectively for Excellence in Global HR Leadership. In 2012, she was listed in the Top 30 Wonder Women in South Africa by the Wits Business School Journal. She was awarded an Africa’s Most Influential Women in Business and Government Award for 2016 in the SME Sector by CEO Global.

In 2015, she wrote her autobiography entitled “Swimming Upstream”, which focuses on her personal and professional journey. It has officially been announced as a best seller. In 2016, she gave several “Swimming Upstream” talks nationally at corporates, schools, universities and charities, with the hope of motivating and inspiring especially youth and women to help them achieve success despite adversity to never give up.

Prof. Zinn is a Fellow of the Institute of Directors in Southern Africa.


Prof. Zinn holds a BA Degree (University of the Western Cape), a Postgraduate Higher Diploma in Education (University of the Western Cape); BEd Honours (Unisa); MEd (University of the Western Cape); EdM (Harvard), and Doctorate in Education (Harvard).

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