Face to Face with Success

Meet Shirley Zinn: The expert putting "human" back in HR

Growing up a woman of colour, in a working-class household in the depths of apartheid, there was little for Shirley Zinn to look forward to.

In 1979, when she was a matric in South Peninsula High School in Diep River, two of Zinn’s teachers sat her down to have a conversation that changed her life and set her on the path to success.

Sometimes we need to accept that people believe in us before we believe in ourselves.

Professor Shirley Zinn

Now, Professor Shirley Zinn holds two Masters Degrees and a PhD from Harvard. She has written a book,Swimming Upstream, and is living proof that grit, resilience and hard work do pay off.

But it has not come easily. Financial difficulties almost saw her drop out of Harvard, and in 2003 she suffered a devastating personal loss that almost broke her.

"Life has a way of teaching you lessons on a scale that you can’t even begin to understand," she says, crediting her mother for teaching her the value of humility even at the height of success.

Many of us are beset by all sorts challenges every day. We all have our own story to tell, and often we don’t seek the healing - we don’t get the help we need.

Professor Shirley Zinn

In this week’s Face to Face with Success, Professor Shirley Zinn shares the lessons she has learned on her path to academic and business success.


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