In our recurring Spotlight blog feature, we chat with CASE members from around the globe about insights and strategies that have helped them in their advancement careers.
Member: Alejandra Peralta, vice president of advancement and institutional communication at Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México
Background: Peralta has more than 15 years of experience in both the public and non-profit sectors. As vice president of advancement and institutional communication at ITAM, she is responsible for coordinating the efforts of nine offices and about 40 people.
You’ve had a variety of jobs in communications. How did you land in advancement?
It was in October 2007 when I was invited by ITAM’s president to be part of his team as VP for strategic planning. I knew ITAM enjoyed a great reputation as a serious institution: academic excellence, top level faculty, talented and hardworking students. ITAM was a young institution at that moment. We were celebrating our 60th anniversary, and my job was to find a track for ITAM to be a strong institution for the next 60 years and more. To do so, I knew I had to start to do benchmark studies with the best universities in the world to understand what projects/areas we lacked or were improvable.
What are some milestones you’ve achieved throughout your career?
[When I arrvied] as advancement and communication VP at ITAM, the first huge effort was to professionalize the area of communications.
One day, talking to a person who was not an alumni and telling him about the huge effort ITAM made helping young, talented students with scholarships, he offered 1 million pesos to support ITAMs scholarships (near $100,000 USD at that time). But that help came with a challenge: he was amazed our alumni were not donors of our institution at a general level. He said that this had to be changed because alumni could and should be grateful and give back to the institution that had given them their education. I thought it was time to start the advancement project.
Today, we have grown to more than 500 donors and more than eight different projects. It has been so amazing to see our faculty, our alumni and other friends get involved and believe in our educational project. ITA’s objective has always been that any student with the talent and wish to be at our institution may do so without consideration of his or her economic background. But academic scholarships are never enough; living expenses aid scholarships have been of great help in this sense.
We have helped more than 400 students during these years. We wish to increase this number and to grow our scope. Our latest project is to help students with international mobility scholarships.
How has CASE membership influenced your career?
CASE has permitted me to have a clear understanding of the higher education industry, and at the same time, it helps me define a path to achieve all the projects in my office. The conferences are absolutely superb, and the magazine and the website are a great source of information. CASE has helped my team and me to build stronger relationships with all our constituencies thanks to its relevant research and networking platform.