Leadership Spotlight – Zyda Rylands, Woolworths SA CEO

Tell us about your company and your role?

Woolworths is a leading South African retailer, passionate about offering a wide range of quality clothing, general merchandise and food products with a focus on innovation, value and sustainability. As the CEO of Woolworths SA, I am responsible for the entire Woolworths operation in South Africa, as well as Africa. I am privileged to lead a team of incredibly talented, passionate people, who are empowered by a clear and aligned strategy, all encompassed by a brand that occupies a very special place in the hearts and minds of our customers.

What is the best thing about running a business in Cape Town?

Without a doubt the view of Table Mountain from my office window and the beautiful Atlantic Ocean.

What areas do you think need to be improved to enhance the business environment in Cape Town?

An issue that arises in all major business hubs across South Africa is connectivity. In order for businesses to thrive today, they need access to information, markets, customers, and competitors. By increasing connectivity in and around business hubs, it will create a more dynamic and nimble working environment, especially for SMEs.

How would you describe Cape Town’s business community?

Entrepreneurial. There are a lot of SMEs and start-ups that have their roots in Cape Town and these businesses are characterised by a passion for growth and innovation. There are also more established businesses who are exploring new ways of conducting business while still being aware of their impact on the environment and communities in which they operate.

What do you think is currently still required to develop a long-term vision and future strategy for the Cape Town City region?

I think more collaboration between business and government is required in order to deliver on long-term strategy for Cape Town. Additionally, open dialogue about opportunities and challenges will create a conducive environment for business development and prosperity, and deliver on the City’s objectives.

What are the hidden gems or favourite spots to visit in the Cape Town city region?

The Biscuit Mill in Woodstock, Sawadee Thai restaurant in Gardens and the quaint De Waterkant with its many beautiful shops and restaurants.

Who do you admire most in the business world?

Many people for many different reasons. Mainly people who have achieved great success, but have remained humble, give back and stay connected to the community, for example GT Ferreira and Siya Xuza.

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