Dr Judy Dlamini (full name: Nobuhle Judith Dlamini) is a qualified medical doctor, an accomplished businesswoman with an MBA and PhD in business leadership, and an author who recently published a book title: Equal but Different. She is also the founder and executive Chairperson of the Mbekani Group, a company that has investments in different sectors of the economy such as health, pharmaceuticals, surgical instruments management, property, facilities and property management, tourism, and luxury fashion retail. Mbekani Group currently has a direct staff complement of over 150. Mbekani Group celebrated 20 years in business in 2016 as it was started in 1996.
Dr Judy Dlamini has held many different leadership roles in her business career including that of Chairperson of Aspen Pharmacare Limited (Aspen) a JSE-listed South African pharmaceutical manufacturer with an extensive global presence with product distribution in more than 120 countries.
Dr Judy Dlamini was born on the 06th July 1959 in Westville, Natal to parents who gave the qualities and values of hard work and resilience, but more especially the value of education as a way out of poverty.
The qualities they instilled would prove instrumental to her success. She learnt a lot from both her parents. From her father, she attributes the lessons in self-reliance and building one’s own destiny. The spirit of giving was another important quality taught by her parents which inspired her to make philanthropy an important part of her life.
She spends a great deal of time working on community projects, her family’s two latest projects Sifiso Community Centre named in her late son’s honour and Mkhiwa Trust.
The young Nobuhle Judy Dlamini knew from a very young age that she wanted to be a successful woman. She wanted to own property for capital appreciation and income, the example set by her father who apart from running a small painting business, also invested in property, building flats that could be rented out for income.
Her mother was a teacher who also supplemented her income with a second job running a tuck shop at a soccer field over weekends, with Judy and her sister assisting.
These secondary jobs were to shape her future business ventures, influencing her foray into both retail and property.
Dr Judy Dlamini qualified as a medical doctor in 1985 from the University of Natal. She achieved being a Doctor while already married to her high school sweetheart, Sizwe Nxasana and raising their firstborn child. She practised as a family practitioner for many years before consulting in Occupational Health for various companies, including Rainbow Chicken, Divpac (a NAMPAK subsidiary) and National Ports Operations.
Both Judy and her husband Sizwe Nxasana were passionate about business. Their first business venture was a bakery, located next door to her medical practice. They experienced a number of challenges in this venture and one of their major obstacles was raising capital. Dr. Judy Dlamini had to cede medical aid payments from her practice as well as the couple’s life policies to raise the R120 000 for bakery equipment.
After a successful career in the medical field spanning over 10 years, she felt a need to explore new terrains and get out of her comfort zone as a medical doctor. As she was contemplating that career move, something happened which clearly showed that it was indeed time to change. That change came in 1996 when she was mugged outside her medical practice.
In her late 30s, she enrolled for a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree at Wits Business School, majoring in Corporate Finance. Upon completion of her MBA she joined HSBC Investment Bank, Johannesburg division, in Corporate Finance.
In 2012 tragedy struck the family when their son, Sifiso Nxasana (22 June 1984 to 3 Feb 2012) passed away. Following the passing of her son Sifiso, the family embraced the notion that life was too short to live in half measures. And it was then that Dlamini pursued her PhD.
She obtained Doctorate in Business Leadership from UNISA where she investigated the intersection of race, gender and social class in women CEOs’ career progression and strategies for gender transformation at leadership level. One of the academic contributions from her research is the WHEEL Theoretical Model. Her PhD also inspired her to write her book, Equal but Different. Equal But Different is based on life story interviews from fourteen women from diverse backgrounds, all of whom have risen to top leadership positions. These include Phuti Mahanyele (exec chairman Sigma Capital), Coco Cachalia (CEO Grounded Media), Cora Fernandez (Head of Sanlam Investment Management), and Siza Mzimela (first black woman to lead a commercial airline company). It does an excellent job of illuminating the similarities as differences in the women’s experiences in their struggle to the top.
While this book is mainly aimed at women, it also calls upon men to play an active role in encouraging aspiring female leaders.
“It is my strong belief that people are born equal but different. It is a belief that equity across gender, race, social class and sexual orientation will be attained in my lifetime.” – Dr. Judy Dlamini
Equal But Different is featured in Exclusive Books’ Homebru 2017 Selection (a list of the best in South African writing), and it has already been reprinted to satisfy demand. Some of the books find their way into the educational arm of the business, like those donated to matric students in Umzimkhulu, KwaZulu-Natal, and to the schools that she and her husband, Sizwe Nxasana have established.
Dr. Dlamini serves on the Anglo American plc board as an independent non-executive director. Previous board engagements include Discovery Holdings, a JSE listed financial services company where she chaired the Remuneration and Transformation Committees, and Woolworths Holdings (JSE listed retail company). She is past chairman of the CEPPWAWU Development Trust, a public benefit trust. She and her husband are the founders and trustees of Mkhiwa trust, a family public benefit organisation with a focus in rural development and education. She is married with two grown up children.
Today Dr Judy Dlamini Dlamini owns and operates luxury retail stores Luminance and is chairperson of Mbekani Group, the business she founded more than 20 years ago.
That fledgling business – offering executive medicals to business people – has since grown into a diverse and successful entity with operations and investments in property, retail, facilities management, health management and medical devices. Mbekani Group now directly employs 120 people, the bulk of them being women.
The family’s education business, Sifiso Learning Group is led by her high-school sweetheart and husband Sizwe Nxasana, former CEO of FirstRand. It includes the online education business Sifiso Edutech, Sifiso Education Properties, Sifiso Publishers and other divisions.
What the future holds
True to form, Dlamini has a five-year plan, both for herself and her business.
The bulk of this year, she says, will involve road shows for Equal but Different.
“It is easy to sell something you completely believe in, and that’s what I am selling; a conversation about gender equality. It’s a passion of mine that the book has allowed me to live.”
Next year, another book (on entrepreneurship) is on the cards.
“At a personal level I would love to spend some time lecturing and writing books. I would especially like to lecture on entrepreneurship and women issues.”
That doesn’t mean a sabbatical from the business. “When, for instance, you lecture at a business school, you are best as a lecturer when you are still active in business,” she explains.
Switching to her plans for her business, Dlamini says she would like property and facilities management to be the main contributors on the operational side. “With people on the ground, both are relatively easy to manage as opposed to the other aspects of the business,” she says.
The bulk of the business in terms of value is property, comprised primarily of commercial assets located in Gauteng. That might soon extend to residential assets.
Future Nation Schools Book Fair and Literary Festival
On the 30th September 2017, the founders of Future Nation Schools, Dr Judy Dlamini and her husband who is also chairperson of NSFAS and the National Education Collaboration Trust, Sizwe Nxasana, donated more than 25,000 books worth more than R12.5 million to Walter Sisulu University (WSU). The donated books focus on business sciences and computer sciences, as well as genres ranging from fiction, action and adventure, self-help, health, religion and spirituality, history, poetry, and encyclopaedias, dictionaries and biographies.
“The effect of this generous gift is immeasurable. It constitutes an entire library collection which will supplement our holdings across four campuses and will open fresh opportunities for our students to explore. Walter Sisulu University is most grateful for this kind gesture,” said Professor Rob Midgely the vice chancellor of Walter Sisulu University.
In addition to the WSU donation, Future Nation Schools also donated a total of R220,000 towards bursaries and the purchase of books to five schools in Alexandra Township who are part of the Vincent Tshabalala Education Trust (VTET). The schools are, Alexandra High School, KwaBhekilanga Secondary School, East Bank High School, Realogile Secondary School and Minerva Secondary School. The five schools each received R20,000 which is in addition to the R120,000 that Nxasana donated towards the Vincent Tshabalala Education Trust. The teachers of Future Nation Schools also donated books to the five schools.
Paul Mashatile, the chairperson of the Vincent Tshabalala Education Trust said, “We are truly grateful to Future Nation Schools for partnering with us in support of teaching and learning in Alexandra Township. We are also delighted that Future Nation Schools is donating money towards the bursaries and the purchase of books which will encourage and inspire our young people. This donation will strengthen the work we are already doing as a trust to support the culture of reading by supplying schools in Alexandra with books that tell South African and African stories, our history and who we are as a people. We look forward to our continued partnership with Future Nation Schools for the benefit of learners from Alexandra.”
Future Nation Schools Book Fair and Literary Festival
Future Nation Schools celebrated the conclusion of Heritage Month by embracing African literature at its book fair and literary festival on Saturday, 30 September. According to Nxasana, “The aim of the Future Nation Schools Book Fair and Literary Festival is to showcase African literature, writers, poetry and arts. This feeds into the Future Nation Schools vision of spearheading the African education revolution through driving content that is relevant to the continent. We believe ensuring all children experience the joy of reading is a vital aspect to developing enquiring minds in our youth and a knowledge of our African heritage.”
Here are some of the powerful speakers and authors who were part of the inaugural Future Nation Schools Book Fair:
- Dr Judy Dlamini – author of Equal but Different – facilitated by Baba Gqubule
- Sipho Sithole & Athabile Masola on The Importance of Creative Arts in Education – facilitated by Sizwe Nxasana
- Kiprop Kimutai on Developing Pan-African Writers – faciliated by Katleho Mogase
- Thandeka Gqubule – No longer Whispering to Power – facilitator was Baba Gqubule
- Prof Thapelo Otlogotswe, Dr Mpume Mbatha & Siya Masuku on Saving African Languages – Facilitator was Sizwe Nxasana
- Sipho Noko on The importance of Writing Academically in our African Languages – Facilitator was Dr Hleze Kunju
- Bra Hugh Masekela on the Importance of Heritage, History and Genealogy – Facilitator was Sizwe Nxasana
- Youth Panel Discussion – Does Shakespeare have a place in African Literature? – Facilitator was Marian Wilkins
- Unathi Magubeni, Jade Jacobson – Distribution For African Books – Facilitaor was Yamkela Khoza Tywakadi
- Mandla Langa – Dare not Linger – Facilitator was Sizwe Nxasana
- Khosi Xaba & Athabile Masola – The story of Noni Jabavu – Facilitator was Cathy Mohlahlana
- Malaika Wa Azania & IMBALETHU KGAME – Young Female Authors in Africa – Facilitator was Kim McFarlane
- NATALIA MOLEBATSI – Come as you are: Poems for Four Strings; Natalia Molebatsi & The Soul Making – Facilitator: Xolisa Dyeshana
- BABA BUNTU – Know Thyself: AfrikanCentered Education; Needs and Possibilities – Facilitator: Noluthando Mthonti
- DR LYNETTE HLONGWANE, YAMKELA KHOZA TYWAKADI, NALEDI NOMALANGA MKHIZE – African Content for Basic Education – Facilitator: Yandiswa Xhakaza
- MUKONDELELI MULAUDZI, PULENG SIRENGQE, BOTLHALE RADEBE – Decolonizing Everything: Youth Perspectives on the Role of Education – Facilitator: Baba Buntu
- SIZWE MPOFU-WALSH – Democracy and Delusions – Facilitator: S’onqoba Maseko
- MORISHE MOTLEJOANE, MICHAEL MUTOMBO, GABRIEL TEMUDZANI – Indigenous story telling for Film and TV – Facilitator: Zama Mkosi
- ELINOR SISULU, PHEHELLO MOFOKENG – Unleashing the African writing revolution – Facilitator: Sizwe Nxasana
- THABISO MAHLAPE – Publishing, Books and Access – Facilitator: Cathy Mohlahlana
Dr Judy Dlamini, has been a recipient of multiple accolades and awards, including the African Economy Builder Lifetime Achievement Award. She remains soft-spoken and humble. She remains a committed, hard-working, resilient woman who keeps pushing boundaries and inspiring many people, young and old, women and men.
- Chair | ASPEN PHARMACARE HOLDINGS LTD – 2007 – present
- Non-Executive Director | Imithi Investments (Pty)Ltd – 2005 – present
- Non-Executive Director | RRL Holdings (Pty) Ltd – 2005 – present
- Non-Executive Director | GIJIMA GROUP LTD – 2005 – present
- Non-Executive Director | ASPEN PHARMACARE HOLDINGS LTD – 2005 – present
- Non-Executive Director | NORTHAM PLATINUM LTD – 2004 – present
- Managing Director | Mbekani Group – 1996 – present
- Consultant | Portnet – Transportation and Logistics
- Consultant | TRANSNET FREIGHT RAIL – Transportation and Logistics
- Chair | Mbekani Investment Holdings (Pty) Limited
- Consultant | Divpac
- Non-Executive Director | Wits Donald Gordon Medical Centre
2004 – 2005
- Non-Executive Director | DISCOVERY LTD – 2002
- Senior Manager | HSBC Investment Bank – Johannesburg | 2002 – 2003
- Consultant | HSBC Investment Bank – Johannesburg | 2001 – 2002
- Director | DISCOVERY LTD
- Director | WOOLWORTHS HOLDINGS LTD – Consumer Goods, Fashion and Retail
- Chairperson | Transformation and Remuneration Committees | DISCOVERY LTD
- Consultant | RCL FOODS LTD
TERTIARY EDUCATIONAL HISTORY
- University of KwaZulu-Natal – Completed 1985 – MBChB
- University of the Free State – Completed 1996 – Diploma in Occupational Health
- University of the Witwatersrand – Completed 1999 – Master of Business Administration
Dr Judy Dlamini’s ACHIEVEMENTS
- Intellidex Richest Women in South Africa List | 2012