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. Currently we are implementing two large commercial cloud services: an ERP service and a student information service. These are core systems of record. However, my professional career is drawing to a close soon, although I intend to see the two services in production before I retire.
I have been a committed environmentalist for most of my adult life and a sometime entrepreneur. Those convictions were also responsible for me being a co-founder of ecoafrica.com – an inbound ecotourism website – way back in 1995 (other web properties included krugersafari.com and krugerpark.com). Ecoafrica and the web properties were sold during and before 2009 and it has been sad to see some of them disappear recently. 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. My personal philosophy is outlined here.
As I entered what I call the “community phase” of life, I joined Jonkershoek Volunteer Wildfire Services (VWS) as a volunteer wildfire-fighter, but resigned after 5 years’ service. A lifelong love of hiking and mountains led me to become a member of the Stellenbosch section of the Mountain Club of SA .
I am married to Marion who hails from the Koo, and we have been blessed with two lovely daughters, Leigh and Heather, and now, two grandchildren so far. Leisure time is spent windsurfing, reading, travelling, sea kayaking, cycle touring and hiking. The university has generous leave conditions and I work hard at exploiting them optimally. 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.
Above Kasteelspoort, Table Mountain (photo by Peter Groves)
visited 29 states (12.8%)
When Paul suggested a lockdown escape to Cascades in Du Toitskloof, with a little abseiling involved, I thought it a decent idea. I knew that the MCSA often scrambled up it and abseiled down the next day. My conclusion was that if you can scramble up it, it can't be...read more
Almost by accident I was nominated to lead a MCSA Stellenbosch section kloofing trip down the Visgat canyon. Visgat is a highlight of the MCSA Cape Town section's summer calendar and they kindly allocate a few dates to Stellenbosch. The fact that I could have easily...read more
My recent post, The Whale Trail in the Pandemic, has attracted enormous traffic, by the standards of my site at least. In it I opine that biological control of Acacia cyclops (rooikrans) in De Hoop Nature Reserve is failing because my - admittedly unscientific and...read more
As South Africa emerged from the hard lockdown in mid-2020, I became desperate to escape to the outdoors. On the off-chance that the Whale Trail was open, I contacted Cape Nature and easily obtained a booking for the trail in January 2021. The hugely popular trail was...read more