A healthcare business leader has been named as a finalist in this year’s Director of the Year awards, run by the Institute of Directors.
Johann van Zyl, chief executive officer of specialist neurological care provider PJ Care, has been shortlisted in the Family Business Director of the Year category for the London and South East region.
Johann, who has been CEO at PJ Care since August 2012, said: “It’s a real thrill for me to be nominated for this award. I am absolutely delighted to have been chosen from what I know was a really impressive field of entrants.
“It means a lot to me personally, but I have to pay tribute to all my colleagues and friends at PJ Care who are an absolute joy to work with.
“I cannot thank them enough for their passion and commitment. I look forward to my dealings with them every single day.
“Being in charge of a complex, growing business like PJ Care is rarely straightforward, but having a great team around me makes the job a whole lot easier.”
PJ Care provides specialist neurological care and neuro-rehabilitation for people with progressive or acquired neurological conditions. It specialises in the multidisciplinary care of adults with a range of conditions, including young onset dementia, stroke, motor neurone disease and Huntington’s disease.
PJ Care owns and manages three neurological care centres, Mallard House and Bluebirds in Milton Keynes, and its flagship Eagle Wood Neurological Care Centre in Peterborough. Its head office is in Bletchley.
Johann moved to the UK from Tanzania, after a 25-year career running businesses in South Africa during and after the Apartheid era when racial segregation was the norm.
He said: “I went into business with a friend in the early 1980s. My business got off the ground when we started helping black taxi drivers in South Africa secure loans to pay for their vehicles.
“We eventually became successful helping black people start their own businesses.
“The mid-1990s saw the end of Apartheid. We became consultants to a number of big car manufacturers who were keen to invest in South Africa. Then in 2007, I was offered an exciting new job – I needed a change and decided to take the position.
“I went to work a CEO for a gold mining company. It meant travelling around a huge area of Africa, seeing wonderful, wild and beautiful places like Ethiopia, Sudan and Namibia, and living in Tanzania. I had a fantastic time.
“After five years, I decided I was getting too old for all the travelling!
“Then I met Jan Flawn, who is chair and founder of PJ Care, just by chance. She happened to be looking for a chief executive to help her run the business. She offered me the job in 2012, and I jumped at the chance.
“I am so glad that I did!”
Rodger Broad, director of the IoD South, said: “This year, 300 directors’ names were put forward, from which we had just under 100 entries to consider for the awards.
“After some difficult decisions, the judges have whittled this down to 21 finalists across eight categories.”
John Minards, South East regional leader of PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, major sponsors of the competition, said: “The IoD awards celebrate some of the finest directors in our region who, in spite of the challenging backdrop, have demonstrated exceptional leadership and best in class performance.
“The quality and depth of the individuals short-listed for the awards leaves me confident that our region will continue to grow in 2014 and beyond.”
Johann and other finalists from across the whole of London and the south east of England will find out if they have been successful at the Awards Gala Dinner on June 11 in the prestigious surroundings of the Nash Room at the Institute of Directors in Pall Mall, London.