Dr. Miriam Altman

Dr. Miriam Altman is recognised as a leading economist, strategist, thought leader and a passionate communicator. She has extensive proven experience in charting uncertainty and achieving great things in difficult circumstances. She speaks on the future of the South African economy, why South Africa needs a “China Strategy” and more broadly on economic strategy in emerging markets. Miriam shares principles that drove Telkom’s rapid turnaround. A driver of digital adoption, she talks about why digital education in schools is not spreading and what can be done about it.

She is a part-time Commissioner on the National Planning Commission (NPC) in the Office of the South African Presidency. This body was established to guide long term planning for South Africa. She was a significant contributor to the writing of SA’s first National Development Plan.

In her private capacity, she advises governments and companies in their economic and commercial strategies.

Miriam is passionate about the take up of digital education for school going children in public schools. She is currently Strategic Advisor to the CEO of Extramarks, the leading digital education content and software company in India.

From 2013 to April 2016, Miriam was Chief of Strategy and Regulatory Affairs for the Telkom Group, SA’s largest fixed line telecommunications operator. She was recruited to craft and chart Telkom’s strategic repositioning and turnaround. In 2013, Telkom was generally disliked by most stakeholders and failing by most metrics. The early success of this programme is reflected in its share value rising by 6 times with significant, sustained improvements in company financials, regulatory matters, customer service and market repositioning.

Miriam was Executive Director at the Human Sciences Research Council in South Africa from 2002 to 2013. The “Employment Scenarios” was her flagship at the HSRC. This drew leaders from government, the private sector, labour and academia together over a period of years to define a vision and practical strategies to address extremely high unemployment in South Africa. The HSRC Employment Scenarios were heavily relied on in the conceptualisation and direction of South Africa’s first National Development Plan.

Miriam has a BA in economics from McGill University, an MPhil from the University of Cambridge and a PhD in economics from the University of Manchester. She is an Adjunct Professor at the Graduate School of Development Policy and Practice, University of Cape Town, a non-resident Fellow at the Center for Emerging Markets at CEIBS in Shanghai, and associated with Tsinghua University’s Graduate School of Public Policy and Management (Beijing) and Fudan University’s Economics Department (Shanghai). Miriam has produced more than 100 publications. She was commissioning editor of approximately 400 policy papers and publications, and was guest editor of four special edition journals.