4 June 2014

Woolworths believes that education is the key to growth and a strong economy. It is important that the leaders of schools are equipped to run their schools effectively so that learners receive quality education.

As part of the Woolworths Making a Difference Educational Programme & MySchool Fundraising programme, the fourth Quality management -seminar will be hosted in partnership with the Western Cape Education Department. This successful seminar has, over the past three years, equipped school principals and deputy principals with additional leadership tools and key learnings on how to manage their schools like profitable businesses.

This year, we will be sharing our knowledge and experience with a total of some 500 Heads of Department at conferences in Cape Town and George. Zyda Rylands, Woolworths ManagingDirector for Foods, and Sam Ngumeni, Woolworths Chief Operating Officer, are the keynote speakers at the Cape Town and George conferences respectively, and will give attendees insights into Woolworths leadership and values. Values are the foundation and cornerstone of the Woolworths business, and both Rylands and Ngumeni are excellent ambassadors for these values in life and in the workplace.

Attendees will then be exposed to the secrets of operational excellence by Woolworths Divisional Executive Desi Gilbert (Cape Town) and Regional Manager, Donald Harding (Port Elizabeth), providing HODs with a toolkit for the successful operation of their departments and schools.

Grey Academy Principal, Johan Volsteedt will share his experience on building a successful school with the learners at heart, and Woolworths Learning & Development Manager, Sibongile Antoni will speak about educating in the workplace.  The seminars will be concluded with an inspiring speech by motivational speaker and MyPlanet Ambassador Braam Malherbe.

Former MEC for the Western Cape Education Department and seminar veteran Donald Grant firmly believes in the importance of motivating and enabling school management. "I have been fortunate enough to have attended a number of Woolworths Principals Seminars over the last few years and am always impressed with the calibre of guest speakers and content of the course. I would like to thank Woolworths for their continued support in improving the quality of education in this Province.”

The Cape Town conference will be held on Saturday, 7 June, from 8:00am to 2:00pm at the Cape Teaching and Leadership Institute (CTLI) in New Nooiensfontein Road, Kuilsriver.

The George conference will be held on Thursday, 3 July, from 9:30am to 3:30pm at Outeniqua High School, George.


Zyda Rylands
Zyda’s greatest passion is people, leadership development and transformation in corporates and in South Africa. Zyda began her illustrious career at Woolworths in 1995 as an audit manager and through excellent performance and a quick succession of promotions, is currently Managing Director for Foods. Zyda’s achievements include non-executive director of the National Urban Reconstruction and Housing Agency and the Centre for Justice and Crime prevention. She also served as chairperson of the Audit Committee for Parliamentary Services and as a non-executive director of the Black Management Forum, Open Society Foundation of SA and FirstRand Bank Board. She is a recipient of the Impumelelo/BMF Top Ten Black Business Personalities Award and was a finalist in the 2011 Business Women’s Association of South Africa’s Business Women of the year award.

Sam Ngumeni
Sam Ngumeni is currently Chief Operating Officer at Woolworths. He is responsible for human resources, transformation, information technology, supply chain and logistics, a position he has held since March 2012. Additional to these responsibilities, Sam serves as Chairman of the Woolworths Trust, Chairman of the Remuneration Committee and is a member of the Risk Committees of the board. He has spent the last 13 years at Woolworths, mainly in financial services but has more than 16 years of retail credit experience. In 2011, he was appointed to the Woolworths Financial Services board and two years later as a Director to the Woolworths Holdings Board.

Johan Volsteedt
Johan is Principal of Grey Academy. His parents were educators at Grey College where he has spent 60 years of his life. He matriculated in 1965, went to the SA Navy for a year and completed his BA (Law) in 1969. Also obtained the HED, BEd and Med, where he claims to have learnt more from a 4 year-holiday stint as a nurse than at university. Johan began his teaching career at Grey College in 1971; rose to deputy headmaster in 1980 and headmaster from 1993 until retirement in 2012. He claims to have learnt much more from children than he could ever teach. He currently runs Grey Academy for 150 learners from disadvantaged backgrounds during three holidays per year. He was also involved with Dream School on MNET for 15 kids who had given up on education. He mentors the management of 11 schools in previously disadvantaged schools and coaches Grey's 1st cricket team.

Sibongile Antoni
Sibongile Antoni is an HR Professional with extensive experience as a HR Generalist, IR Specialist, Talent Manager and Learning & Development Manager in various retail businesses.  She is currently National Learning & Development Manager at Woolworths responsible for people development. She has worked in diverse communities across South Africa. Sibongile holds a HR Diploma (CPUT), Strategic Retail Business Management (UCT Graduate School of Business) and a Post Graduate Certificate in Leadership through UCT Graduate School of Business.

Sibongile has been instrumental in building sustainable business solutions in the various companies that she has worked for.

Donald Harding
Donald joined Woolworths 31 years ago as a trainee manager. Over this time, he has managed stores, both small and big. He has worked in Head Office heading up store operations and for the past 14 years has been Regional Manager for the Cape Division.
Donald is now based in Port Elizabeth and manages the Eastern Cape Region, which comprises 24 stores (foods & full line stores). Apart from quite a lot of travel, he makes good use of technology to keep in touch with his management team across the Eastern Cape.

Desi Gilbert
Since joining Woolworths, Desi has performed in many store operation roles before relocating to the Woolworths Head Office in Cape Town. He is currently Divisional Executive of the Western Cape Division.
While heading up Sales Management and Trade Planning for Foods, Desi was able to gain extensive local and international experience in both clothing and food retail. Desi is a self-motivated, visionary individual who is passionate and enthusiastic about his business. He is committed to growing and developing people and has embedded a well-managed talent management process and succession pool. His mantra is “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got.”   

Braam Malherbe
Braam is an extreme adventurer, international motivational speaker, youth developer, TV presenter and author of the best seller “The Great Run” but most of all, he is a no-nonsense conservationist. Braam has an infectious energy that is fed by his life-long passion to protect the environment. For the past 15 years, Braam has worked extensively as a youth developer, facilitating outdoor leadership camps where he teaches children about their place in nature and survival skills. Through his guidance Braam empowers them to make a difference in their own lives and in the lives of others. His mottos are: “the greatest gift in life is giving” and “nothing is impossible if you have big dreams”. Braam is a MyPlanet Ambassador and Extreme Conservationist.


  • Enriching education is part of our Good business journey to make a difference in our communities, our country and our world.
  • In addition to the Woolworths Educational Programme, our initiatives in this area include our MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet community fundraising programme as well as our involvement in EduPlant, which addresses the challenges of food security by teaching  educators, learners and communities how to grow their own food sustainably.

The Woolworths Educational Programme - an innovative educational initiative

  • The Woolworths Making the Difference Educational Programme focuses on Healthy Living and the Environment.
  • The programme is designed for Grade Four to Sixlearners and targets learners, their educators and parents.
  • More than 2 180 schools are registered on the programme.
  • 63% of the schools participating in the programme are under-resourced.
  • This year to date 124 374 learners have experienced the classroom lessons.
  • The programme has been running successfully in primary schools across the Western Cape and Gauteng since 2004 and in schools across KwaZulu-Natal since 2006.
  • The number of schools participating in the programme have grown year on year.
  • The programme was expanded to schools in Eastern Cape in January 2011.
  • For parents there is a series of dietician-led store tours aimed at offering assistance and advice on their children’s health, nutrition and physical well-being.

MySchool Programme - Shop and raise money for schools

  • The MySchool programme encourages supporters to raise funds for schools.
  • Consumers throughout the country who carry MySchool and Woolworths World of Difference cards can earn additional funds for their chosen schools by simply swiping their card at the tills each time they buy at any Woolworths store in South Africa.
  • Woolworths World of Difference card holders are automatically invited to participate in MySchool.
  • Cardholders can support any school of their choice and do not have to have children at school in order to participate.
  • Woolworths through the MySchool programme contributed more than R48 million to participating schools between June 2010 and April 2014.
  • In October 2007 MyPlanet / MyVillage were introduced, this an extension of the MySchool programme, enabling customers to raise funds for selected charities & environmental organisations.
  • All South Africans are encouraged to participate in the MySchool MyPlanet MyVillage programme by getting a brochure from your nearest Woolworths store or contacting MySchool on 0860-100 445.