Director of Marketing and Corporate Relations at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University

Pieter Swart qualified as a Public Relations Officer and Teacher in 1979.  After teaching for three years he held positions as Public Relations Officer, Head of Public Relations, and Director of Corporate Affairs (Marketing, Communication and Fundraising) at Port Elizabeth Technikon. In 2005, he was appointed as Director of Marketing and Corporate Relations at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University.

Career highlights include addressing the United Centre against Apartheid in New York in 1994; participating in the He’Atid Programme in Israel for SA Leaders; delivering a paper on  University Advancement at the Annual Case Assembly in San Francisco and assisting Swedish institutions of higher learning put together strategic marketing plans, CI and branding. He was the recipient of the Citizen of the Year Award: Academic: Nelson Mandela Bay in 1997 and the NMMU: Top performer of MACE EXCELLENCE AWARDS in 2011, including 16 Excellence Awards in Marketing, Communications and Branding. Pieter is a past Chairperson of the Unitech Board and has served as the Chairperson for the National Marketing, Advancement and Communication in Education Board (MACE).

Five Questions

1. Had you always set out to work in a university setting?

I have always had a passion for education, it in my mind, being the only agent to facilitate positive change and upliftment.

2. Describe your work in 3 words.

Challenging, exciting, satisfying.

3. What would you rate as the most urgent challenges in advancement, with particular reference to institutions in the country?

The creation of real partnerships with Industry and Government to ensure that development funding is applied to empower and uplift the identified persons and communities, and once empowerment takes place that the persons/communities give back in turn.

4. What are the holy grails for you in Higher Education Advancement work, i.e. which sources of information are you constantly referring to and/or recommending?

Personal experiences and feedback from credible practitioners in the field, annual reports of companies and websites, as well as CASE (Council for Advancement and Support of Education) publications, such as “Major Gifts: Solicitation Strategies”.

5. What are the most significant changes you’ve observed in that time? Please share these with us – the good, the bad & the ugly.

The fundraising world is an exciting one, but also one where certain people see a way of enriching themselves and not investing in their projects. This is unacceptable and why I believe giving should be invested with a reputable company/institution that can assist and monitor inexperienced individuals and groups. The most exciting part was seeing people’s lives change for the better and they becoming agents of change and putting back into their communities. The other good advice I got from a senior fundraiser when I was young is that one had to Ask before one could receive and that your ask had to fit the donor’s priorities, so previous research was absolutely necessary.