Simon Susman was born in Tel Aviv, Israel, and spent his childhood in South Africa. He matriculated from St. Andrew's College in Grahamstown and in 1969 went on to UCT where, due to "too much anti apartheid politics", he did not obtain his degree.
He worked in various positions for Marks & Spencer in London and was personal assistant to Lord Sieff, the Chairman, Marks & Spencer. In 1982, Simon joined Woolworths, South Africa where he built their private label food business into a serious market player. He became the CEO of Woolworths Holdings Limited in 2000 and is now non-executive Chairman. Woolworths is a $4bn group operating in southern Africa in over 400 stores and in Australia where it owns the 90 store chain, Country Road. Both chains are bywords for quality and sustainability. Both retail exclusive private label apparel and Woolworths foods is South Africa's leading upscale store for fresh innovative food.
Under his stewardship, Simon oversaw the implementation of the "Good business journey" — a comprehensive sustainability programme covering major social, environmental and governance transformation within the Group, including pursuit of low-carbon operations, a comprehensive recalibration of farming practices through Woolworths supplier base, called Farming for the Future, and a Water Neutral programme for all retail operations.
Woolworths was ranked second out of the top 100 companies in South Africa on the Climate Change Disclosure Leadership Index by the 2009 Carbon Disclosure Project, a global initiative to encourage companies to disclose their greenhouse gas emissions.
In both 2008 and 2010 Woolworths was named International Responsible Retailer of the Year at the World Retail Congress. Woolworth's is also included in the Johannesburg Stock Exchange Socially responsible investment (SRI) index for 2009/10 (fifth straight year) and was named as one of the index best performers.
In October 2011, the World Economic Forum named Woolworths one of the sustainability champions of the developing world. Of the 16 companies world-wide that met the criteria, Woolworths was one of only three in Africa and is also the only retailer to make the list. Simon, now retired from his executive role, chairs a number of organizations, including the prestigious Stellenbosch University business School Advisory Board and CSA, the South African arm of CI. He holds a number of Trusteeships and other Directorships.
In his free time, Simon enjoys extreme fly fishing, mountain hiking, classical music, and bird watching.