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.
Shirley, who holds and M.Ed from the University of the Western Cape and a D.Ed from Harvard, was awarded the Top Woman in Business and Government and Top Executive in Corporate South Africa by Topco Media in 2008. She was recognised by the Black Business Quarterly and received the award for Top Woman in Business and Government and most Visionary Woman in 2008. Shirley served as HR Director for SARS, Nedbank and Standard Bank.
“To say that I was completely captivated by your story is an understatement. It is compelling, authentic, uplifting and very insightful.”
Aletha Ling, Senior Vice President Operations, Emerging Markets Digital, Visa Cape Town.
“ A testimony to the indomitable human female spirit. A must read for all African women”
Richard Barret, Author, Speaker and Chairman of the Barrett Values Centre.
“One of the most impressive autobiographies in recent years the catchy title Swimming Upstream, a riveting account of how a young black woman, called Shirley Zinn, rises from the stifling conditions of the Cape Flats under apartheid to take a doctorate from Harvard and eventually become of the leading human resources professionals in the country today.”
Prof Jonathan Jansen, Rector and Vice Rector and Vice Chancellor of the University of the Free State.