Chief Executive Officer, South African Airways
Siza Mzimela began her career with the Standard Bank of South Africa in 1991 in the Small Business & Retail divisions. In 1994 Mzimela joined Total South Africa as a Corporate Planning Analyst responsible for managing capital projects.
Mzimela joined South African Airways in January 1996, as a Research Analyst responsible for route analysis & passenger forecasts. She was soon promoted to Manager, Market Development & later became Senior Manager Alliances.
In her role as Senior Manager Alliances, she took part in high-level negotiations with major international airlines in the Middle East & Africa. The successful implementation of partnerships with Emirates, El Al (Israel Airlines) & Ghana Airways are but a few of the many projects she co-ordinated & managed.
She was appointed Regional General Manager for Africa & the Middle East at the end of 2000. As RGM for the Africa region, she was instrumental in refocusing the region, the results of which were evident in the Airline performance during her tenure.
Mzimela was appointed Executive Vice President of Global Passenger Services overseeing SAA’s airport operations both locally & abroad in November 2001 & in May 2002 took over the Global Sales & Voyager portfolio. She headed up the operation that oversees the airline’s sales force, direct sales channels, the Voyager frequent flyer programme as well as RGMs in Europe, Africa, the Americas & North & South Asia. The main focus of the position being to generate revenue. In the financial year ending 2003, SAA recorded an operating profit for the first time in 10 years. This was achieved by pursuing a number of initiatives such as focusing on direct sales channels & managing the point of sale more aggressively.
She was appointed Chief Executive Officer of South African Express Airways effective 1 October 2003 at a time when it was faced with an undesirable & unsatisfactory financial position. Under her reign the company acquired new routes domestically & regionally leading to the airline being referred to as the fastest growing regional carrier airline in Southern Africa. Additionally, SA Express acquired new generation aircraft which were a first for Africa, demonstrating forward thinking & vision in response to the fast changing aviation industry. The company registered substantial growth under her leadership culminating in the eradication of the technical insolvent status; an accomplishment made all the more remarkable given that it did not require recapitalization to attain this financial milestone. Notwithstanding the difficulties facing the airline industry and business as a whole, SA Express continues its profitability & remains financially sound.
Mzimela is a leader with substantial hands-on experience & whose positive attitude, strong negotiating skills & business acumen have helped her scale to many heights. Her personal philosophy & values have led her to succeed & to inspire & lead others. The abovementioned, coupled with 15 years experience in the aviation industry culminated in her current appointment as CEO of South African Airways.
She is married with two children.