Mbalenhle Zulu, 32

Mbalenhle is an associate professor and a PhD candidate at the University of South Africa. She also a Comrades Marathon medallist.
Her career spans more than 11 years in both corporate and academia, and she has held positions ranging from management accounting manager to finance manager in corporate. She joined academia in 2014 due to her passion for promoting and advocating for a future where each child in the country receives education from the best educators.

A recent career achievement was being promoted from senior lecturer to associate professor in October 2019, making her the first black female professor of accounting in Unisa and perhaps the country.

She has presented her academic work at both local and international accounting conferences (Italy, Japan and Australia) and has published papers in peer-reviewed journals. Her academic research focuses on the capital market effects of financial reporting and integrated reporting. She is also a reviewer for Meditari Accountancy Research, the South African Journal of Economic and Management Sciences and the Southern African Accounting Association.

In terms of community engagement, she is currently the secretary-general of a movement called We Are Runners which focuses on community upliftment through running and hosts various drives through the year. These include a drive to keep a girl child in school where sanitary towels are collected from the running community and then distributed. This movement is also used to raise breast cancer awareness. The movement offers training and support to thousands of runners and their impact on society is evidenced by a strong social media presence.

As a young academic, Mbalenhle strives to set a good example and she uses the power of social media to influence, teach, empower and mentor students from all over the country. She wants young people to aspire to excellence and wants young girls to know that they do not have to set limitations for themselves or adopt limitations set by other people. She believes that in a country like South Africa, representation matters significantly. She also believes that one of the ways to eradicate generational poverty is through educating our youth so they can be empowered and empower others.

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