My Brilliant Career
Alumni relations vital for varsity's success, growth
Zwakele Ngubane is director of advancement and alumni relations at the Durban Universi of Technology
What does your job at the Durban University of Technology involve?
My job involves providing strategic direc tion and overall management of the ad vancement and alumni relations office. We are responsible for drafting and implement ing strategies designed to attract financial and other forms of support for the university from a variety of stakeholders, including alumni, companies, government agencies and trusts and foundations. A typical work day involves a meeting with my team to touch base and ensure that we are making progress on allocated tasks and duties. It also involves meetings with po tential donors, drafting fundraising propos als and meeting DUT managers and heads of departments with specific projects.
Why does DUT need to maintain contact with former students?
We believe in building and maintaining long term relationships with our graduates, in line with a holistic approach pioneered in South Africa by Inyathelo, the South African Institute for Advancement. Relationship building is one of 10 ad vancement elements that enable us to work in an integrated way to attract financial re sources for DUT's long term sustainability. Alumni constitute a key stakeholder group for the university as they have a vested inter est in its continued success and growth.
Raising funds for the university must be challenging, especially as most people are under pressure. What are some of the stressors in your job?
I have many stressors related to my job, but the key stressor is meeting our fundraising objectives because the projects that we raise funds for are important for the develop ment and growth of our students. If we don't deliver, it means students who could have been assisted with a bursary might not be able to continue with their studies. Another stressor is the lack of apprecia tion and understanding of what we do. This results, sometimes, in people expecting our office to come up with funds at the drop of a hat, not fully appreciating that there is a deli cate and lengthy process involved in raising funds.
What did you want to be when you were a child?
I wanted to be an actor. I used to watch a lot of TV and movies, growing up. I think, contrary to popular opinion, in my case TV played some role in positively shaping my view on reality. The programmes and movies that I watched taught me many valuable lessons. The narratives in movies always carry with them some message, some lesson, and, depending on how you choose to de code the message, you can actually learn a lot from the mistakes, trials and tribulations that fictional characters go through because the circumstances portrayed are often in spired by reality.
What part of your job would you like to change or not do at all?
The red tape or bureaucracy that one has to navigate can be onerous and demoralising at times, so that is the one part of my job would like to change.
If you had a chance to choose a new career, what would it be?
Stemming from my "childhood fantasies" I think the idea of being an actor is still at tractive, but in reality I doubt I have the per sonality for that kind of public exposure.