About Miriam Altman

Strategist, economist, change catalyst aimed at high impact solutions

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I am a strategist, economist, business person and social activist, and have served in leadership roles driving significant transformation.

My professional life has focused on framing and executing scalable high impact solutions to economic development challenges.

Currently, I am a Commissioner in the National Planning Commission in the South African Presidency, a Director of strategy consultancy Altman Advisory, and a Professor of 4IR Practice at the University of Johannesburg.  I was responsible for crafting and orchestrating the turnaround at Telkom, a $3 billion telecommunications company, as Head of Strategy and continue to be deeply engaged in digital transformation. For many years, I have convened top leaders for productive engagement, not least on how to solve for the biggest economic challenges.

Public Policy

As a Commissioner in the National Planning Commission in the South African Presidency I contributed to SA’s first National Development Plan Vision 2030. I now lead work on the economy, employment, digital readiness, labour, infrastructure, state-owned enterprise performance and on education. Reports are available at: https://www.nationalplanningcommission.org.za/Publications_Reports

In response to the current crisis in 2020, I convene the Covid-19 Economists Group. Proposals have been released on areas ranging from macro-fiscal strategy, bond raising, loan guarantees, wage support, employment priorities and a sovereign social bond.


As a Director at Altman Advisory, I support governments and companies in their economic and commercial strategies. To date, this has involved African market development in e-commerce, education technology, electrical hardware, tourism and communications. Currently we are working with the SA Government on its economic recovery plan and its 2045 Infrastructure Plan. I convene a top leadership group to strengthen China Business Strategy for SA. I personally mentor and invest in digital platform companies at an inflection point.

Between 2013 and 2016, I was Head of Strategy and Regulatory Affairs for Telkom, responsible for crafting and orchestrating its turnaround. Telkom is SA’s fixed line telecommunications incumbent, a public listed and part owned by the state. Over this period, Telkom went from fast decline, to stabilisation to growth. The share value rose by almost 6 times between May 2013 and August 2015, reflecting renewed faith in Telkom. Telkom is increasingly seen as a state-owned enterprise success story and is again considered to be a competitive player in SA telecommunications.

As an Executive Director at the Human Sciences Research Council in South Africa from 2002 to 2012, I led its work on the economy and employment.  The “Employment Scenarios” programme was a flagship, convening leaders from government, the private sector, labour and academia together over a period of years to define practical strategies to address extremely high unemployment in South Africa. Many of the papers on this website were written during this period.


I am currently a Professor of 4IR Practice in the School of Economics, University of Johannesburg, an Adjunct Professor in the School of Public Governance, University of Cape Town and a non-resident Fellow at the Centre for Emerging Markets at the China Europe International Business School (CEIBS) in Shanghai.  Since 2016, I have been a visiting Professor at the Graduate School of Public Policy and Management, Tsinghua University in Beijing, and at the Economics Department, Fudan University in Shanghai.

Civic Engagement

I am deeply committed to civic engagements, often as experiments to show how social innovations could impact on public sector delivery. Passionate about the next generation, I most recently launched YANDiSA in partnership with enke-Make Your Mark. YANDiSA aims to build the capacity of elected high school leaders to drive constructive institutional change starting with improving education outcomes in their own schools.


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