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Member Profile: Alejandra Peralta

Alejandra Peralta

Alejandra Peralta has more than 15 years of experience in both the public and non-profit sectors. Peralta has worked at Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México for more than 10 years. As vice president of advancement and institutional communication, she is responsible for coordinating the efforts of nine offices and about 40 people. She is in charge of the communication and marketing strategy (internal and external), the recruitment of undergraduate and postgraduate students, alumni relations, the relationship with high schools, institutional campaigns for fundraising, coordination for institutional accreditations. During her tenure, she has systematized information from each one of the areas to use it in a novel way for decision making. She has also been responsible for diversifying alumni services offered by the institution to increase the emotional ties and sense of belonging in ITAM's community.

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.

At that moment, I visualized the advancement effort in three pillars: alumni office, career center and fundraising. We organized the alumni office to have a strong database, better contacts and services. The career center was redesigned to have a more active role in our student professional development. Finally, the fundraising office was established considering all of CASE's criteria. It has been a huge effort, and it is finally a reality.

What are some milestones you've achieved throughout your career?

At President´s Zedillo office, we had a small group of advisers passionate about technology and communications. At that time, presidents' offices around the world had simple websites and not very helpful for the public and media. Therefore, we decided to make a one-of-a kind project. Zedillo's website was constantly recognized as one of the best in its category. We gained recognition and served better our public.

At that time in Mexico, there was very little flow of information from the government to the general public. We started to receive questions from kids and their parents about different assignments so I did some research and found out that there was no website for kids with all of our history, music, traditions and civic information. I asked for resources to follow up on this project, and I became the head of the project with five people under my responsibility. One year after, "El Balero, México para Niños" was born with more than 3,000 pages of information. It was a beautiful, huge website full of quality information about our country. I was amazed to see the reactions; we received many prizes and, most important, we grew in visitors and surpassed the general presidency's website.

On arriving as advancement and communication VP at ITAM, the first huge effort was to professionalize the area of communications. But advancement was on my mind as all of the CASE seminars and relationships that I had attended had given me a clear idea of how we could proceed in this area. 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 $100,000USD 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. ITAM´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 long have you been involved with CASE?

I have been involved since May 2008 when Roberto Sánchez Mejorada invited me to be part of the team that was working with CASE Latin America. It was a group of talented and focused people; I remember Germán Campos from Anahuac University, Norma Aburto from UDLA Puebla, Isabel Navarro from UDEM, amongst others. The idea was to bring CASE to Mexico and Latin America and, as you know, today it is a reality.

When I called Roberto Sánchez Mejorada to talk about my new position as VP of strategic planning, he immediately talked to me about CASE. "If you wish to move ITAM forward," he said, "you need to get involved in CASE and see what the best universities in the U.S. and other parts of the world are doing: how they work, what projects they are conducting, how the higher education industry is moving."

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.

This article is from the March 2017 BriefCASE issue of BriefCASE.
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