Day 2

Head of Communications at the University of the Witwatersrand

Shirona Patel

Shirona serves as the Head of Communications at the University of the Witwatersrand, and is responsible for positioning the university both locally and abroad as a leading research-intensive university on the continent. In conjunction with other areas in the Advancement Division, she leads a dynamic team responsible for reputation management, social leadership, multimedia and communications, research communications, publications and internal communications, among other functions.

She is passionate about communicating research and science, with over 15 years’ of experience in these areas. She has led several publicity campaigns with academic leaders in areas ranging from palaeoanthropology to physics, health sciences to the humanities.

Shirona serves as the communications manager in the Office of the Vice-Principal, is a member of several university committees, and serves on its Senate, the highest academic decision-making body of the university. She is a member of the Senior Management Group, which she chaired for two years, and has represented multiple constituencies at the University Forum, the HIV/AIDS Forum, the Wellness Forum, the Senate International Policy Committee, the University’s Risk Management Committee, and several other structures.

Prior to her appointment at Wits, Shirona managed a diverse range of Pan-African, multinational campaigns for a public-relations and public-affairs agency, which spanned the education, healthcare, pharmaceutical, and finance sectors, in addition to servicing several departments in the public sector. She also worked in the publishing arena for a range of corporate and consumer magazines (including a consumer magazine at the age of 21), and hosted a community radio show for five years (part-time).

She holds qualifications in Media Studies, Communications, Journalism and Media Studies. She is passionate about literature and creative writing; the promotion of the public understanding of science in society; and working collaboratively with partners to effect real social change in society.

Parallel session

Telling research stories across multiple communication platforms