Professor Shirley Zinn is the former Group Head of Human Resources at Woolworths Holdings Limited. Prior to this, she was the Head of Human Resources of 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 that provides consulting and advisory services in HR, Transformation, Leadership and Education.
Prior to this she was the Group Executive HR at Nedbank. Before this, she was the General Manager for Human Resources at the South African Revenue Service (SARS). She is also an Extraordinary Professor at the University of Pretoria’s Department of Human Resource Management, and recently been appointed as Adjunct Professor at the University of Cape Town. She is the Past President of the Institute for People Management South Africa and registered as Master HR Professional with South Africa Board for People Practice.
She hails from the Cape Flats in Cape Town, and started her career as a secondary school teacher of English, 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 Department of Public Service and Administration’s: South African Management Development Institute, in Pretoria as Director. She held the position of Executive Employment Equity at Computer Configurations Holdings. Before her appointment at SARS, she filled the role of Regional Human Resources Director for Middle East and Africa for Reckitt Benckiser, a global company listed on the London Stock Exchange.
She is the former Chairman of DHL: Global Forwarding SA, and currently a Non-Executive Director on the Boards of JSE listed AdvTech (Lead Independent and Chair of Remco) and Sygnia Asset Management (Lead Independent, and Chair of Remco and Social and Ethics Committee).
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 the Advisor to the Board of Silvertree Internet Holdings. She also serves on the Take-Over 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 Chairman 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. She is the President for the Harvard Alumni Association South Africa and a Fellow of the Institute of Directors SA. She also previously served as the Chair of the Institute of Bankers. She was recently appointed as the Patron for South Africa Council of Business Women.
She is a coach and mentor to several women across multiple industries
She has presented at numerous national and international conferences as a keynote speaker.
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 has done several “Swimming Upstream” talks nationally at corporates, schools, universities and charities, with the hope of motivating and inspiring especially youth and women that they can achieve despite adversity, and to never give up.
She holds a BA (University of the Western Cape); Higher Diploma in Education (University of the Western Cape); B.Ed Honours (UNISA); M.Ed (University of the Western Cape); Ed.M (Harvard) and Doctorate in Education (Ed.D) (Harvard).
She was awarded the Top Woman in Business and Government and Top Executive in Corporate South Africa by Topco Media in 2008. She also was recognized 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, was listed in the Top 30 Wonder Women in South Africa by the Wits Business Journal. She was awarded Africa’s Most Influential Women in Business and Government for 2016 in the SME Sector by CEO Global.
She also completed her eighth Two Oceans Half Marathon in March 2016.