In 1985, Dr Judy Dlamini achieved her childhood dream of becoming a medical doctor. But at the age of 39, she quit her medical career and went back to school.

Her career in medicine started at the age of 26 when she received her degree. During her medical studies, she got married to Sizwe Nxasana and gave birth to her first child, Sifiso Nxasana.

Here is an infographic of Dr Judy Dlamini’s life and her career in medicine and business.

An infographic of Dr Judy Dlamini's Career

Early Life and Early Career of Dr Judy Dlamini

  • 1964 (4 years old): In 1964, Judy Dlamini’s childhood dream of becoming a medical doctor was born when a medical doctor (Dr Vusi Gcabashe) made a house call to her home to treat her father, who was ill at the time.
  • 1970 (11 years old): When Judy Dlamini was 11 year’s old, she and her sister spent their Sundays working at their father’s tuck shop. This planted the seed of entrepreneurship in her.
  • 1974* (15 years old): When she was just a teenager, she met Sizwe Nxasana, a man she would later marry.
  • 1975* (16 years old): Her father, Thomas Charles Dumezweni Dlamini, died while she was waiting for her matric results. He was an entrepreneur and a primary school teacher.
  • 1983 (24 years old): In 1983, Judy Dlamini married Sizwe Nxasana while studying towards her medical degree.
  • 1984 (25 years old): On 22 June 1984, she and her husband welcomed their first child together, Sifiso Nxasana. She was still studying towards her medical degree.
  • 1985 (26 years old): In 1985, Dr Judy Dlamini qualified as a medical doctor upon obtaining a medical degree (MBChB) from the University of Natal (now University of Kwa-Zulu Natal). She started her career by opening her own medical practice as a family general practitioner. She ran her township-based medical practice for about 10 years. As a new mother and wife at the time, she opted not to study further (for medical specialization). She chose to have her own practice because it allowed her to look after her new family.

Career Change: Medicine, Occupational Health & Business

  • 1995* (35 years old): Around 1995, Judy decided to leave medicine in favour of a business career after being robbed at gunpoint outside her practice. After that, her and her husband moved out of the township, sold the practice, the bakery business they owned, and their house. She enrolled for a Diploma in Occupational Health (DOH) from University of Free State (UFS).
  • 1996 (36 years old): In 1996, she completed the DOH and started consulting in occupational health for various companies, including Rainbow Chicken, Divpac (a NAMPAK subsidiary) and National Ports Operations.
  • 1996 (37 years old): In 1996, Judy Dlamini started her own company, Mbekani Group.
  • 1998 (39 years old: In 1998, she enrolls for a Master of Business Administration (MBA) at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) to learn to be a businessperson.
  • 1999 (40 years old): In 1999, she completed the MBA at the age of 40.
  • 2001 (42 years old): Dr Judy Dlamini started working for the HSBC Investment Bank as a Consultant in corporate finance (2001 – 2002) after a friend she went to business school with (Patsy David) introduced her to Richard Boomer, who took a chance on her.
  • 2002 (43 years old):By 2002, Judy Dlamini had worked her way up to Senior Manager at HSBC Investment Bank’s in the transport and energy team.
  • 2003 (44 years old): In 2003, she left the HSBC Investment Bank.

Business & Entrepreneurship Career Growth

  • 2004 (45 years old): In November 2004, Dr Judy Dlamini was appointed as a non-executive director at Northam Platinum between 2004 and 2013 and as a member of that board’s committees on health, safety and environmental; investment; and social, ethics and human resources. She also served as a non-executive director at Wits Donald Gordon Medical Centre (2004 – 2005).
  • 2005 (46 years old: In July 2005, Aspen appointed Judy Dlamini as a board member after an investment deal with Imithi Investments, a company where she was a shareholder and non-executive director. RRL Holdings (Pty) Ltd appointed her as a non-executive director.
  • 2007 (48 years old): In July 2007, Woolworths Holdings appointed her as a non-executive director. In November 2007, Aspen appointed Judy Dlamini as chairman of the board of directors.
  • 2008 (49 years old): On 31 July 2008, she resigned from Woolworth’s board of directors. In January 2008, she assumed the role of chairman of the remuneration committee at Discovery Holdings.
  • 2012 (53 years old): In February 2012, Judy Dlamini’s son died from ill-health. In April 2012, Aspen CEO cycled for 6 hours over 240km in honour of her son, raising R10 million.
  • 2013 (54 years old): On 30 September 2013, Dr Judy Dlamini resigned from the board of Northam Platinum.
  • 2014 (55 years old): In January 2014, she became a non-executive director at Anglo American and a member of the audit and remuneration committees. In July 2014, Dlamini and her family took over ownership of Luminance, a luxury boutique by businesswoman, Khanyi Dhlomo. In 2014, she obtained her Doctor of Business Leadership at the University of South Africa (UNISA).
  • 2015 (56 years old): Judy Dlamini resigned from her chairman and director roles at Aspen, after serving for 10 years. Her daughter, Nkanyezi (nee Nxasana) Makhari, got married to Lufuno Makhari in Allee Bleue, Franschhoek.
  • 2016 (57 years old): In October 2016, she was awarded the “Fabulous Woman of the Year Award” by Fabulous Woman Magazine. Judy Dlamini was the 2016/2017 Regional Winner of the SADC South Award in the Business & Professional Service Category at CEO Global’s Most Influential Women in Business & Government Awards. She was the recipient of the 2016 African Economy Builder Lifetime Achiever Award conferred by the Africa Economy Builders Forum. In December 2016, she was on the cover of Moja Magazine with accomplished designer, Gert-Johan Coetzee (GJC) for sponsoring three girls with the GJC and Luminance bursaries.
  • 2017 (58 years old): In 2017, Judy Dlamini published her first book, “Equal but Different: Women Leaders’ Life Stories: Overcoming Race, Gender & Social Class”. Her book was selected as a 2017 Exclusive Books Homebru selection under biographies. She also appeared on the cover of Forbes Woman magazine. In 2017, Her and her husband founded Future Nations Schools, a network of private schools in South Africa, which are owned by the Sifiso Learning Group.
  • 2018 (59 years old): In 2018, Judy Dlamini became the first female Chancellor of the University of the Witwatersrand. Nelson Mandela University awarded her an honorary doctorate in 2018. On 15 November 2018, she received two awards from her alma mater, UNISA (School of Business Leadership) at the Leadership in Practice (LIP) Award ceremony, namely, the “Leadership In Practice” (LIP) award and the “Woman in Leadership Award”. Her daughter, Nkanyezi Nxasana Makhari, gave birth to her second child, increasing the number of Judy and Sizwe’s grandchildren to four (including Judy’s stepdaughter’s children). In 2018, she obtained the Stanford Innovation and Entrepreneurship Certificate, an online program that costs around $8,035 (R147, 719).
  • 2019 (60 years old): In 2019, Judy Dlamini published her second book, “The Other Story: A Fireside chat with African Achievers”. In March 2019, she received the “Platinum Award” and the “Comair Outstanding Woman of the Year Award” at the 2019 Black Business Quarterly (BBQ) Awards. In September 2019, she was on the cover of Financial Mail magazine. In November 2019, EY Africa awarded her with the “Lifetime Achievement Award for Entrepreneurship”.  She was also awarded the 2018 Woman of Substance Award by the Aspiring Women Chartered Accountants (AWCA).
EY Africa awarding Dr Judy Dlamini with the “Lifetime Achievement Award for Entrepreneurship”
 Image Credit: EY Africa via Twitter
  • 2020 (61 years old): In March 2020, Forbes Africa listed Dr Judy Dlamini as one of “Africa’s 50 Most Powerful Women”. Other women on the list include Graca Machel, Phuti Mahanyele-Dabengwa, Thuli Madonsela, Bonang Matheba and other powerful women.
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