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Swimming Upstream: A story of grit and determination to succeed
Publishing Date: November 2015
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Shirley Zinn’s story is one of determination, courage, and triumph over incredible adversity.
Born and raised on the Cape Flats, Shirley never allowed her past to dictate her future. She proved that the typical story of a girl from the Cape Flats – that of gangsterism, alcoholism and teenage pregnancy – didn’t have to be her story. Instead she relentlessly pursued her own goals and forged an impressive academic career even when she faced significant odds. And when she’d done that, she set out to conquer the world of business.
Shirley is a formidable woman with an amazing story to tell. She has risen to the top of the pile in both academic and business circles, and yet she has retained great humanity and empathy in the face of great personal tragedy.
Her story has lessons for us all – whether we are ordinary or extraordinary, whether we work in business, in government, or at home. Shirley’s story will inspire you and show you that it is possible to achieve your goals, if you are prepared to swim upstream and be single-minded in getting where you want to be.
About Shirley Zinn
Prof Shirley Zinn is currently the Group Head of Human Resources at Woolworths Holdings Limited. Previously, she was the Head of Human Resources of Standard Bank South Africa and Deputy Global Head of Human Resources for the Standard Bank Group. Prior to that she was the Group Executive HR at Nedbank and the General Manager for Human Resources at the South African Revenue Service (SARS).
She is the former Chairman of DHL: Global Forwarding SA, and a Non-Executive Director on the Boards of AdvTech, Tuesday Consulting, Business Engage, Sygnia Asset Management, and the Boston Consulting Group SA. She is a Trustee on the Nedbank Eyethu Community Trust, 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.
And as an entrepreneur, she has registered her own company: Shirley Zinn Consulting that provides consulting and advisory services in HR, Transformation, Leadership and Education.