We all know the expression that ‘a healthy body houses a healthy mind’. A true example of this can be found in Mr Reenen du Plessis, the Executive Director: Operations.
He pours just as much energy into exercise than into his work. He already completed 12 Two Ocean ultra marathons, 9 Comrades marathons, and 9 Cape Argus cycling races.
“My vision for the Operations portfolio is to provide safe, attractive and functional campuses where the University can flourish as an outstanding academic institution. Issues that have to be addressed in order to adhere to all the challenges of such an extensive portfolio, includes, but is not limited to, delivering products and services better, cheaper and faster; inform top management regarding strategic implications and budget needed to fulfil the strategy of the University; and provide facilities and systems as needed. Furthermore, maintenance and safe operation of facilities; protection of facilities, environment and university community; as well as advice and support to comply with health-, safety and environmental law and the optimal utilization of assets will be high priorities.”
“But none of this can be done without people – I value people as our most important asset. We need to manage talent and empower people. Teamwork is of the utmost importance,” Mr du Plessis emphasized.
He also believes that it is crucial to keep clients informed, and he envisages to have a computer supported call centre available 24/7 at the University. Furthermore he wants to prioritise the upgrade of facilities in order to assist physically challenged people as best possible. Another initiative that he plans is to optimise the usage of electricity and water. He also added that we need to reduce our carbon footprint – it is very important to become ‘green’.
Mr du Plessis is no stranger to the tertiary environment. Before he joined UJ on 1 November 2009, he was the Senior Director: Facilities Management at the University of Stellenbosch (US). He was employed at US since 1998, where he first held the position of Director: Facilities Management.
His career path includes working at Armament Industry (Armscor and Denel) for sixteen years until the late nineties, when he was Chief Engineer, Manager: Programmes, responsible for the management of projects. During this period he was involved with the development of missiles, rockets, warheads, satellites, launchers and test ranges.
He also lectured at the former Cape Technikon of which he was also a Council member, Pretoria Technikon and the Military Academy, which is a satellite campus of US in Saldanha.
He served on the HEFMA Executive (Higher Education Facilities Management Association of Southern Africa) from 2005 – 2007, and became the president in 2006. In 2007, he received the President’s Award in the United States of America from the President of APPA (Association of Higher Education Facility Officers) in recognition of outstanding service, dedication and loyalty to APPA.
His academic career includes an honours degree in Mechanical Engineering, specialising in Aeronautics at US, as well as a master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering (cum laude) from the University of Pretoria in 1985. Mr du Plessis is also registered as a professional Engineer with the South African Council of Engineers since 1985. He is also a certified Mechanical Engineering of Competency with the Department of Manpower (the so-called Government Ticket).