I am employed by Stellenbosch University‘s IT division as Director: Institutional Software Solutions, a new role as from January 2016.  My role entails technical responsibility for the design, development, procurement and maintenance of institutional (large) software solutions and information systems.

I have led a sustainable IT initiative on campus in line with my convictions about sustainability and environmental protection. Those convictions were also responsible for me being a co-founder of – an inbound ecotourism website – way back in 1995 (other web properties included, and ecoAfrica’s Blog). Ecoafrica and the web properties were sold during and before 2009 and it has been sad to see some of them disappear recently.

Over the last couple of years I was privileged to contribute to the design of our new, green ICT Building, a building that promises to help modernise the division and change its work culture.

I was a member of  the Wildlife and Environment Society of SA for a number of years and as I entered what I call the “community phase” of life, I became a member of the Jonkershoek Nature Reserve Protected Area Advisory Committee (J-PAAC) and joined Jonkershoek Volunteer Wildfire Services (VWS) as a volunteer wildfire-fighter, but have resigned after 5 years. A lifelong love of hiking and mountains led me to (finally!) become a member of the Stellenbosch section of the Mountain Club of SA as well.

Originally I graduated with a degree in electronic engineering from Stellenbosch in 1979 and followed it up with an MBA in 1994. I am something of a permanent student, so in line with my “green” interests completed an MPhil in Environmental Management in 2004 and a BPhil in Renewable and Sustainable Energy at Stellenbosch’s Sustainability Institute in 2009. I believe that the twin challenges of our time are the depletion of our endowment of energy sources, mainly fossil fuel, and climate change.

I am married to Marion who hails from the Koo, and we have been blessed with two lovely daughters, Leigh and Heather. Leisure time is spent  windsurfing, reading, travelling, sea kayaking and hiking. The university has generous leave conditions and I work hard at exploiting them optimally. Working myself to death is not an option. My motto for this phase of my life is: ¨Play hard, work smart¨.

My father, Felix Pina, is Dutch, from Wassenaar. He emigrated here with his parents and brothers after WWII and settled at Koelenhof near Stellenbosch. There was a romantic theory that we are the descendants of Sephardic Jews, but my brother’s recent research into the roots of the Pina family indicates that we descend from French Huguenots who fled to the Low Countries. My mom, Cynthia Pina (Visser), is a Capetonian through and through and I was born on the slopes of Table Mountain as well, but I now call Stellenbosch “home”.

I am a football fanatic.  World Cup 2010 was an absolute highlight, a spectacular and uplifting experience. I played competitively for almost 30 years, and coached too. I have always followed Ajax Amsterdam, Oranje and FC Barcelona – it’s a football philosophy thing.

I would have loved to have been a virtuoso jazz pianist – or a rock star – but sadly the love of music was never matched by raw talent. So although I took piano lessons in my mid-thirties for three years, I ended up frustrating myself no end. There has been a recent, enjoyable re-acquaintance with the guitar, however.

Leigh, Marion, me, Heather

Leigh, Marion, me, Heather

Aboe Kasteelspoort, Table Mountain (photo by Peter Groves)

Above Kasteelspoort, Table Mountain (photo by Peter Groves)

visited 29 states (12.8%)

6 comments to About

  • Hi Ralph

    I happened on your photos while researching the Cederberg area as a possible next shoot. I am a landscape photographer and I’m always on the look-out for new, fresh and uninhabited landscapes to shoot. After browsing through your photos for about half and hour (together with google earth maps in order to get a feel of the landscape), I got interested in the photographer and was directed to your blog.

    All I can say is wow. What a life! You must have been, through your travels and hikes, privileged to the most beautiful landscape scenes. It is inspiring to browse through them all and I will keep a bookmark on your site for future reference.

    All the best,

  • Many thanks Liesel. Your photos are in a different league altogether however! I would aspire to do landscapes like yours – but one excuse I have is that I try to travel light on foot, so that limits the type of camera I use…:-)

  • Lorette

    I am impressed. We often do not value and appreciate you and your talents and your love for nature and conservation.

  • Thanks sis-in-law 🙂 – you’re making me blush

  • Heather Steyn

    Very proud of you daddy and all your achievements throughout your life. You are a super cool dad!

  • Steven Burnett

    I am an organiser of adventure races locally. In setting up routes, looking for new ones etc. I often come along your routes, photos etc. Thank you for making them available, it’s a great resource!

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