Judith Dlamini 2018


Entrepreneur, author and philanthropist, Judy Dlamini, was born in Westville, Natal, in 1959 to parents who passed on the merits of hard work and resilience, but more especially the value of education as a way out of poverty. By the age of four, she was already in Grade 1.

From a young age, she knew 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, a teacher, also supplemented her income with a second job, running a tuck shop at a soccer field over weekends, with Judy and her sister assisting.

Dlamini’s childhood dream was to become a doctor, an achievement she accomplished while married and raising her first-born child, earning her degree through the then University of Natal

She started her career as a medical family practitioner and later obtained a Diploma in Occupational Health from the University of the Free State. She then decided to build her business career and in her 40s, completed an  MBA from the University of the Witwatersrand.

After spending two years at Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC), specialising in transport and energy corporate finance, she began to develop her entrepreneurial interests. She held various board positions at blue chip companies, including that of chairperson of major pharmaceutical group Aspen Pharmacare, Anglo American plc, Discovery Holdings and Woolworths Holdings.

She obtained a Doctorate in Business Leadership from UNISA in 2014 and a Stanford Innovation & Entrepreneurship Certificate in 2018.

Dr Dlamini is Founder and Executive Chairman for Mbekani Group, an occupational health consulting company, which was established in 1996 with two employees. Over the past 20 years, it has grown its operations to different sectors of the economy, including health, property, facilities management and luxury fashion retail – and now boasts a direct staff complement of over 150.

She is a non-executive director of SA SME Fund, an initiative between government and the private sector to create jobs and grow an inclusive economy.

She is also a founder and trustee of Mkhiwa Trust, a family vehicle for social responsibility initiatives.

Judy is a published author of Equal but Different, which was a bestseller and saw her selected as the 2017 Exclusive Books Homebru author in the business sector.

Among several other awards, Judy was the recipient of the African Economy Builder Lifetime Achiever Award for 2016 and, most recently, received the African Women Chartered Accountant (AWCA) 2018 Woman of Substance award - an annual accolade ceremony initiated by the AWCA Forum. 

“I have learnt so many things. It starts with having an ambition, pursuing excellence through investing in your education, staying focused and working hard. Failures are there to teach you something, learn from them. Giving up on your dreams is not an option. Achieving one dream is only a start, create more dreams and work hard at achieving them. Don't allow anyone to tell you what you can or cannot achieve, limits exist only in our minds. More importantly, never sell your soul for anything, nothing and no one is worth it. Ethical and servant leadership is what the world needs to close the gaps that exist in societies,” says Dr Dlamini.

For her passion in creating and adding value to society and humanity, it is an honour for Nelson Mandela University to confer the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (honoris causa) on Judy Dlamini.