on May 7th, 2020

It is said that iron sharpens iron. At the Engineering Institute of Technology (EIT), that statement rings true every day. There is an ecosystem of managers, learning support officers, and course advisors who work in tandem to ensure students enrolled in our programs are on their way to achieving their academic and career goals.

The South African office has had to roll with the punches of the strict lockdown regulations imposed as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sisipho Phakamisa, an EIT Learning Support Officer, says the person who has been keeping her on-track amidst the lockdown is EIT Africa’s International Education Manager and South African Office Manager David Gadjus.

“He has proven to be a proactive leader, as well as very supportive,” she said.

“He engages a lot with the team, and he always jumps at the opportunity to help. The lockdowns took us all by surprise, and he has done a great job of unifying us in what would otherwise be a very chaotic time.”

Anele Fihla is a Course Advisor in EIT’s South African office. Her daily responsibilities include handling enquiries from prospective students, and explaining to them what EIT’s transformative online and campus-based engineering courses entail.

Anele Fihla (pictured)

Once the students have registered for courses, Anele helps maintain the growing EIT student database. She is also currently responsible for the Health and Safety Department in the Johannesburg office. Anele says that it is the internal synergy within EIT’s offices that produces the cohesive, well-oiled machine the students have come to know and love. Anele says that in this time of lockdown in South Africa, it is the managers inside the institution who show her how to stay level-headed. Anele says the person who has helped her deal with some of the tougher moments during lockdown has been Regional Manager of the Southern African branch of EIT, Cheryl Segal.  

“I have learned a thing or two from her through observing her. The most important nugget of wisdom she has imparted to me is: focus on one thing at a time. When she spoke to me about this, it made me understand why she is so level-headed. She seems to block out a lot of the noise and prioritizes the goal at hand. Personally, I feel this is an important attribute to have during a workday. It is important for your mental health,” said Anele.

Meanwhile, David has coordinated an entirely virtual office remotely and ensure all the staff members are on track to achieving the organizational goals. He says one of the more effective ways of keeping everyone relaxed during the anxiety-inducing lockdowns is to have a catch-up meeting with the staff on a Friday that doesn’t involve any work talk.

“I have been amazed at the resilience of the South African staff,” he said.

“They have managed to keep the office running smoothly despite the restrictive lockdown in the country. South Africans, in particular, are getting through this tough time with their amazing sense of humor and their dedicated work ethic as well.”

With the influx of enquiries, the South African team is working hard to get the new students registered and studying via our unique online delivery methodology. South African engineers-in-waiting are seeking out online programs due to the closure of university campuses around the country. School leavers are particularly looking into alternatives due to the disruption of the academic year.

Anele says she is ensuring that she speaks to prospective students as calmly and sensibly as possible. She says she is cognizant that this is a scary time for those who are trying to gain skills in the industry and contribute to their communities as much as they can. Students of EIT— and the prospective ones considering signing up for a course soon — can breathe a sigh of relief knowing the course advisors and learning support officers are ready to help them take control of their futures and help them study online without disruption.

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