Ms. Zohra Ebrahim, recently appointed Chairperson of the Social Housing Regulator (SHRA) in South Africa, will be a scholar-in-residence for the Spring 2011 semester.
Zohra Begum Ebrahim was born in District Six, Cape Town. She majored in history and statistics at university, graduating with BA and HDE degrees at the University of South Africa and the University of Cape Town respectively. She is currently the Chairperson of Sanyati Holdings Limited, a listed South African construction sector company (since February 2010). She is also a Non-Executive Director of Aurecon SA since September 2010 (part of the merger between SA companies Africon and Ninham-Shand and the Australian-based Connell Wagner).
Most recently (September 2010), Zohra was appointed by Minister of Human Settlements, Tokyo Sexwale, as the inaugural Chairperson of the Social Housing Regulatory Authority (SHRA), a new authority in terms of the Social Housing Act No.16 of 2008 and has been tasked with establishment of the regulator. She also serves as a director of its forerunner, the Social Housing Foundation (SHF) which is winding- down.
Other current directorships are: Edcon Holdings (where she chairs the Remuneration and Transformation committees), Fifth Quadrant Holdings, The Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation (of which she is the deputy-chair as well as Audit and Risk Committee chair) and the Development Action Group (DAG).
While these arenon-executive positions, they require considerable commitment of time, energy and travel. As a consequence, she has resigned from Organisation Development Africa (ODA) since 1 Feb 2010 and SOHCO since July 2010. These are both companies that the chaired and in particular in SOHCO was asked to assist with the transitional process till November 2010.
Given the scope of her directorships, which range across non-government organisations to public sector entities and large corporates, she has often been asked to consult on matters of governance.
After an initial career in the Actuarial department of Metropolitan Life from 1981 to 1986, she returned to university to complete her HDE and then taught for a 2 year period during the politically turbulent late 1980’s. She rose to become the national civics co-ordinator of the United Democratic Front or UDF (the main internal anti-apartheid movement, aligned to the ANC), an appointment which contributed significantly to the formation of the South African National Civics Organisation (SANCO) in 1992. Zohra’s leadership at company and organisational level is rooted in years of community involvement and institution building.
Zohra was the first black female President of the South African Institute for People Management (IPM). During her IPM SA tenure as president, they became the Institute of People Management rather than "Personnel" management. The IPM SA also decided on the position of Immediate Past President as a board position to assist with continuity and international outreach and she was the first person to be inducted to this office.
In 1997, Zohra became the Executive Chairman of the New Housing Company (NewHco) and led the restructuring process which culminated in the formation of Inframax Holdings (Pty) Ltd, of which she too became the Executive Chairman. During this period, she was also a director of the Johannesburg Housing Company (JHC), a path-breaking social housing institution, of which NewHco was a founder member.