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Mangwashi Victoria “Riah” Phiyega was born in Polokwane and received her primary and secondary education in various schools in Limpopo.
She holds a BA (Social Work) degree from the University of the North, a BA Hons (Social Science) from Unisa, an MA (Social Science) from the University of Johannesburg and a Post-Graduate Diploma in Business Administration from Wales University in Cardiff, UK.
Phiyega has also attended executive development programmes at the National University of Singapore and at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in the US.
She is a past group executive of Absa. While there, she chaired the All Pay boards of Gauteng and the Eastern Cape; she was also a board member of Absa Actuaries, chair of the Gotswelela Trust and a trustee of the Absa Foundation.
Phiyega was group executive at Transnet where she was a member of the executive committee and an attending member of the Transnet Board.
She served on numerous Transnet subsidiary boards and chaired the Production House, Transmed and Petronet Vusisiwe Trust.
She was also a board member of Connex Travel, as well as a trustee of the Transnet Foundation.
Phiyega was part of a team of senior executives who were responsible for restructuring the old Portnet into two major entities, Port Operations and the Port Authority.
Subsequently, she became part of the executive of the National Ports Authority of SA.
Phiyega became a member of the board and committees of the International Association for Ports and Harbours (IAPH), as well as the Port Management Association for East and Southern Ports.
During this period, she chaired the committee that organised the first International Conference for Ports and Harbours hosted on the African continent, which saw more than 2000 executives from the the maritime industry coming to Durban.
Community development, engagement and empowerment add colour to her career.
Phiyega served as director for development at the National Council for Child Welfare. She has also worked with Pretoria Child Welfare and with the Chamber of Mines as an employee well-being consultant.
Recently, she was appointed as chairwoman of the presidential state-owned enterprise review committee. The committee was tasked with the responsibility of reviewing state-owned entities and making recommendations for their future repositioning.
Phiyega is the current vice-chairwoman for the Independent Commission for Remuneration of Public Office Bearers.
She chaired the road traffic management corporation investigation task team, which looked into maladministration, corruption and poor corporate governance.
The task team made major intervention and restructuring recommendations to the Minister of Transport, assisting in putting the agency on a fresh footing.
Phiyega has served in other significant national structures, among them serving as a board member of the 2010 Bid Committee that delivered hosting of the 2010 World Cup by SA, and commissioner for the Road Accident Fund Commission led by Judge Kathy Satchwell which made recommendations into reasonable, equitable and accessible systems of payments by the Road Accident Fund.
She was also chairwoman of the National Welfare Forum that actively participated in the social welfare restructuring committee responsible for the development of the post-apartheid welfare White Paper.
She also sat on the Council for Medical Aid Schemes.
Phiyega was a member of two university councils, namely Medunsa and the University of Limpopo.
She also served on council committees of Technikon Witwatersrand and the Tshwane University of Technology.
She is active on several NGO boards.
Notable among which are the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund and the Southern Africa Trust.
Phiyega is also involved in women’s empowerment in several capacities, including:
l As member of the International Women’s Forum of South Africa).
l As a coach and mentor linked to mentoring programmes of various organisations including, among others, Association for Black Securities and Investment Professionals, International Women’s Forum: SA, African Women Chattered Accountants and the Graca Machel Scholarship.
She is chairwoman of the Ladies Forum of her church
She believes in personal transformation and seeks to drive that through motivational speaking and coaching others
She has received recognition awards for her leadership in business, community development and women initiatives.
She is driven by what she calls the “ISE Philosophy”, that is integrity, service to others before self and excellence.
She is a wife, mother and grandmother.