Professor Tshilidzi Marwala

Tshilidzi Marwala

Rector of the United Nations University; Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations

PhD, University of Cambridge
MSc, Mechanical Engineering, University of Pretoria
BSc, Case Western Reserve University
UNU Centre
South Africa

Prof. Tshilidzi Marwala is the Rector of the United Nations University and Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations. 

Prior to taking up the role of UNU Rector on 1 March 2023, Prof. Tshilidzi Marwala served as Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Johannesburg (South Africa) from January 2018 through February 2023. He had previously served as that university’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research and Internationalization (2013–2017) and Executive Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment (2009–2013).

From 2003–2008, Prof. Marwala progressively held the positions of Associate Professor and Full Professor at the University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa); from 2001–2003 he was Executive Assistant to the Technical Director at South African Breweries; and from 2000–2001) he was a Post-Doctoral Research Associate at Imperial College (then University of London).

Prof. Marwala has been a visiting scholar/professor at universities in the USA, the UK, China, and South Africa. He has extensive academic, policy, management, and international experience, and is a co-holder of five patents. His research has been multi-disciplinary, involving the theory and applications of artificial intelligence to engineering, social science, economics, politics, finance, and medicine. He has served on a variety of global and national policymaking bodies, and has worked with such United Nations entities as UNESCO, UNICEF, WHO, and WIPO.

He holds a PhD degree from the University of Cambridge (UK), a Master of Mechanical Engineering degree from the University of Pretoria (South Africa), and a Bachelor of Science degree (magna cum laude) from Case Western Reserve University (USA). He also completed management and leadership programmes at the Columbia Business School and Harvard Business School.

Prof. Marwala is, inter alia, a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, The World Academy of Sciences (TWAS), the Academy of Science of South Africa, and the African Academy of Sciences.

Prof. Marwala is the author of more than 20 books, including Leadership Lessons from Books I Have Read (2021) and Leading in the 21st Century: The Call for a New Type of African Leader (2021); dozens of book chapters, journal papers, and conference papers; and more than 200 magazine articles and newspaper op-eds.

Among the awards that Prof. Marwala has received are the Order of Mapungubwe (South Africa’s highest honour) and the Academy of South Africa’s Science-for-Society Gold Medal. He was named the 2021 IT Personality of the Year by the Institute of IT Professionals South Africa.