Nicolene completed her undergraduate degree in Education, honours degree in Human Resource Development and Masters in Adult Education, all at the University of Johannesburg in South Africa. She obtained her doctorate in Higher Education Management from the University of Liverpool in the United Kingdom. She also commenced her career in higher education at her alma mater, the University of Johannesburg in 2000.
In 2004, she was recruited to Monash South Africa (MSA), where she worked for almost 12 years. The campus was founded and established by Monash University (Go8) in 2001. It grew from about 200 students when she joined, to over 4000 when she left in 2016. She served MSA in various roles, the last two years as Chief Operating Officer (COO).
Her career at MSA provided her with extensive experience managing all aspects of campus life, educational provision from foundation studies, through to internationally recognized degrees and Higher Degrees by Research (HDRs). She also gained extensive experience about the Australian regulatory context, with the challenging task of adhering to both the South African and Australian accreditation requirements, ensuring compliance across different jurisdictions.
Laureate International Universities acquired 75% share of the MSA campus in 2013 and extended this to be the sole shareholder by 2015. This introduced Nicolene to a vibrant, innovative, multinational education company and extended her international higher education management experience beyond South Africa and Australia. She was responsible for 2 rounds of extensive pre-acquisition due diligence and all governance and reporting requirements of a publicly listed company, achieving commercial success and driving quality educational outcomes. She was inducted into the Laureate network in the US, Paris, Turkey and Spain.
After spending more than 15 years in a very vibrant and challenging South African higher education environment, she took on a new challenge for her own professional and personal growth. Laureate afforded her the opportunity to relocate to Australia in May 2016. She initially held the position of Director (Product Management), guiding innovative course development across the brand entities in Australia and New Zealand. She was part of degree development processes from ideation, through curriculum development, online provision, as well as quality assurance and continuous improvement of offerings.
After a few months in Australia, she was promoted to the role of Program Director of a global Laureate project, responsible for the new Student Management and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems implementation and to rethink the digital experience of Laureate students across the network. The systems roll-out was aligned with an extensive process alignment exercise called E2G – Enrolment to Graduation – focusing on the student lifecycle and ensuring a seamless user experience, a quality learning experience and connecting with students on various mobile platforms. She was then promoted to Vice President (Student Administration).
The new systems served as the backbone of the full spectrum of administrative shared services center she was responsible for.
She commenced in her current role as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Western Sydney University (WSU), The College in July 2018. The College is a wholly owned, not-for-profit entity of the University providing high-quality academic pathway programs, complemented by English language competency courses and proficiency testing, as well as offering a suite of vocational programs to students and clients through its Registered Training Organisation (RTO).
This has expanded her executive management experience, as well as connecting students from vocational or pathway courses to articulate to higher education through open access, integrated and extended degree models. She is passionate about finding meaningful opportunities for a culturally diverse student profile from the Western suburbs of Western Sydney. She reports to the Western Sydney University Enterprises Board and is responsible for the strategic plan, objectives and policy framework of The College and sits on the Executive Committee of the University.
The College has over 5000 students and 500 staff, spreading multiple campuses across the heart of Western Sydney in Blacktown, Bankstown, Penrith, Sydney Olympic Park and Parramatta.
Nicolene is listed on the Princeton Global Network Top 100 Elite Professionals in the field of Education. This recognition is bestowed on distinguished individuals who demonstrates commitment to excellence in their careers and exemplary leadership in their communities.
Besides her love and passion for education, she is a musician at heart. She plays clarinet, piano, guitar and the latest edition to her repertoire, the saxophone. She also sings in the Sydney Philharmonic Festival Choir. To keep fit, she is a keen (not too serious) runner with a number of half marathons under her belt. She is married to DeVilliers, an Engineer, Ironman triathlete and marathon runner.
Abstracts this author is presenting: