Symphonia embraces new board

The month of April saw Symphonia for South Africa (SSA) usher in a new board of directors - a contingent who collectively possess decades of experience in leadership, community development and business.

Ten change leaders in their own right now oversee the operations of SSA, the registered NPC and social enterprise that delivers the award-winning PfP programme.


Melanie Burke, Chairperson

Melanie runs MAB and Associates (Pty) Ltd –  her own company that focuses on transformation and technology solutions for social development and business support.

She is also an associate of training and innovation company SynNovation Solutions. Melanie coaches and builds capacity as senior programme director at leadership development organization Common Purpose. Other company directorships include Vermaas Weeks Partners and Associates (Pty) Ltd.

Her extensive philanthropy work has seen her gain recognition as a Nedbank Local Hero, as well as a nomination in the social development category of the Shoprite/Checkers Women of the Year 2008.

Melanie was shortlisted for a Nelson Mandela Rhodes Foundation Harvard Fellowship in 2008, and was a finalist in the Business Women's Association Regional Achievers Awards in the Social Entrepreneurship category for 2010.


Bruce Thomas, Treasurer

Bruce is the head of the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) Advisory and Special Projects team at Nedbank, which provides accounting advice on IFRS issues to Nedbank’s clusters, the implementation of new accounting standards, and IFRS training for Nedbank’s professional staff.

Prior to joining Nedbank, Bruce was an Associate Director at Price Waterhouse Coopers (PwC), where he worked in their Accounting Consulting Division. He was the lead accounting consultant for PwC’s banking and capital market clients. As part of this role, Bruce provided accounting advice to four of the six largest South African banks, as well as South Africa’s largest asset manager.

Bruce is a registered Chartered Accountant (South Africa) who holds a Higher Diploma in Accounting from the University of the Witwatersrand and a Bachelor of Business Science (Honours) in Finance from the University of Cape Town.


Priscilla Daniels

Professor Daniels is the director of the Community Engagement Unit at the University of the Western Cape (UWC), and is responsible for facilitating and coordinating UWC community engagement activities.  Prior to this, she managed the Community Higher Education Services Partnership at UWC and was the Chairperson of the Department of Human Ecology and Dietetics.  She currently serves as an Executive Board member of the South African Higher Education Community Engagement Forum.  

Professor Daniel has several degrees from UWC, and completed her MSc at Cornell University in the USA in 1991.

She has a passion for mentoring and engaging in staff development and, as such, she has authored various articles in this area.  She has published extensively, and has also presented at numerous conferences in the fields of service-learning, education, human ecology and family development. 


Billy Mawasha

Billy is a strategic, dynamic and people focused business leader with strong commercial, stakeholder engagement, operational and technical skills, which he applies to deliver sustainable results to businesses he leads.

His working experience includes stints at the De Beers Group, AngloGold Ashanti and Anglo American (Kumba Iron Ore). Billy also serves on the Board of Foskor (Pty) Ltd. He is a member of the Wits Mining School Industry Advisory Council and the Sol Plaatje University Finance and Investment Committee.

In 2017, Billy was selected as a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum. This honour recognises the most distinguished leaders under the age of 40 globally.


Nina Wellsted

Nina Wellsted joined Nedbank’s Marketing Division in 2002, and has headed the Retail Sustainability Portfolio since 2008. During this time, Nina has been instrumental in embedding the Group’s Integrated Sustainability strategy in all business divisions. Her role focuses on co-creating and implementing predominantly environmental and social sustainability projects.

Nina’s passion for actively transforming South African education saw her join the PfP programme in 2012 – an experience she describes as life-changing.

Nina has championed the PfP programme internally, resulting in Nedbank as the corporate with the most number of employees participating in the programme.


Mahmood Sonday

Through his work Mahmood seeks to simultaneously bridge and advance economic, social and ecological objectives to build a more just and thriving world. He combines over a decade of experience in business improvement, consulting, and programme management with research and practice in building platforms for complex collaborative problem processes. He has held numerous senior positions in the private, public and non-profit sector. In 2013 Mahmood co-founded Top Quartile Project Services Africa where he is a director. Beyond project development, he consults on venture philanthropy and cross-sector collaboration for systemic change.

Mahmood has delivered results on complex projects in established institutions in multiple sectors ranging from global development and philanthropy to energy, healthcare and financial services. His work cuts across industries and disciplines from digital and process transformation to culture strengthening in financial services, renewable energy project development in mining, as well as innovation and partnership development to scale micro-grids in deep rural communities. He also plays an active role as a volunteer on high impact community projects. He was worked in Africa, Europe and North America.

His research on collaborative intermediaries was published in a leading peer-reviewed journal, the Journal of Business Ethics. He also lectures and delivers talks on building platforms for social change.

Mahmood holds a BCom (Hons) degree from the University of Cape Town majoring in Information Systems, and an MBA from GIBS (University of Pretoria). He also holds certificates in Project Management (PMP), Six Sigma (Black Belt) and Social Labs.

Mahmood is a keen runner and ultra-marathon finisher.


Tracey Swanepoel

Tracey Swanepoel is the author of The Leadership Riptide and How to Escape, a publication endorsed by the SABPP as one of their top five leadership books). 

She is a Henley Business School MBA graduate and founder of THINKspiration, a specialist consultancy focusing on developing leaders and helping them to get their corporate strategy understood by equipping them with innovative, practical tools and skills.


Thomas Holtz

Thomas is a qualified Mechanical Engineer and CEO of Gauteng-based mining equipment manufacturing business, Multotec. He was partnered with Elizabeth Seema, Principal of Rembrandt Primary Schoolin 2012.

He considers himself an atypical engineer in that he is fascinated by how the human "ecosystem" works.  He believes that a living organisation in any context has limitless potential, and that the objectives of the PfP Programme tap into this reality.


Dave Morris

Dave recently retired from a successful career with mining giant Anglo American, during which he held leadership positions in mining operations, project management, business management, health and safety and business improvement.

For many years, he has been actively involved in the educational development of young people, and has completed the PfP programme with Principal Lebo Mokwele of Thopodi Primary School in Etwatwa. He is also currently Board Chairman for St Andrew’s School for Girls, as well as a mentor to undergraduates and young professionals. 

Dave is convinced that quality education for all is the foundation for a prosperous and sustainable South Africa.


Louise van Rhyn

With a doctoral degree in organisational change, Louise has over 25 years' experience as a change practitioner with a focus on large scale change in complex social systems. She has worked with diverse local and global organisations, across all sectors, in many countries.

In 2008, Louise founded Symphonia for South Africa – a group of organisations committed to sustainable transformation in people, teams, companies, organisations and communities throughout the world.

Through the objectives of SSA, Louise is committed to mobilising citizens to become actively involved in addressing the education crisis facing South Africa. To this end, she initiated the innovative PfP leadership development process.

Louise’s engagement in social entrepreneurship as part of her deep commitment to advancing change in South Africa and throughout Africa, draws in equal parts on her career accomplishments and social commitment. In the interest of advancing both, she continues to steer the ever-expanding PfP programme.

She is driven by a strong need to make a positive contribution to the world, and to leave the world a better place for the sake of our children and future generations.

30 November -1, 00:00