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) degree from the University of Johannesburg and a Post Graduate Diploma in Business Administration from Wales- University- Cardiff. She also attended Executive Development Programmes at the National University of Singapore and Wharton University, Pennsylvania in the US.She is a past Group Executive of Absa Bank Limited. While at Absa, she chaired the All Pay boards of Gauteng and Eastern Cape; she was also a board member of Absa Actuaries, Chair of Gotswelela Trust and Trustee of the Absa Foundation. She 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 Board Member of Connex Travel as well as Trustee of the Transnet Foundation. She was part of a team of Senior Executives that was responsible for the restructuring of the old Portnet into two major separate entities, Port Operations and Port Authority. Subsequent to the above restructuring, she became part of the Executive of the National Ports Authority of South Africa. It is during this period that she championed the establishment of the International Relations in the Maritime Sector. She became a member of the board and committees of the International Association for Ports and Harbours (IAPH) and as well as the Port Management Association for East and Southern Ports (PMAESA). During this period, she chaired the committee that organised the first International Conference for Ports and Harbours, hosted on the African continent which saw over 2000 executives of the Maritime industry coming to Durban.Community development, engagement and empowerment add colour to her illustrious career. In the community development area, she served as Director for Development at the National Council for Childwelfare. She started her career in Pretoria Childwelfare. She spent some few years at the Chamber of Mines as an Employee Wellbeing Consultant. In recent times, she was appointed as Chairperson of the Presidential State Owned Enterprise Review Committee. The Committee was tasked with the responsibility of reviewing State Owned Entities and to make recommendations for their future repositioning. She is the current Vice Chairperson 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 to put the agency on a fresh footing. She has served in other significant National structures among which are serving as a board member of the 2010 Bid Committee that delivered hosting of the 2010 Soccer World Cup by South Africa, Commissioner for the Commission of the Road Accident Fund Commission led by Judge Satchwell that made recommendations into reasonable, equitable and accessible systems of payments by the Road Accident Fund. She was also Chairperson 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. She was a member of two University Councils namely Medunsa and University of Limpopo. She also served on Council Committees of Technikon Witwatersrand and the Tshwane University of Technology. She is offering her services several NGO boards, notable among which are the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund and the Southern Africa Trust.
Apart from the above, she is involved in women empowerment:
· As member of the International Women’s Forum of South Africa (IWFSA),
· As a coach and mentor linked to mentoring programmes of various organisations including, among others, Association for Black Securities and Investment Professionals (ABSIP), International Women’s Forum: SA (IWFSA), African Women Chattered Accountants (AWCA) and The Graca Machel Scholarship.
· She is Chairperson 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; i.e. Integrity, Service to others before self and Excellence. She is a wife, mother and grandmother. SAPS Profile.