JOLENE VAN HEERDEN: Communications Manager at MAHLE Behr South Africa

#AutomotiveAllies, Jolene van Heerden, nominated by Alex Holmes, is a respected Public Relations professional with over 23 years of experience and the Communications Manager for MAHLE Behr South Africa.

Jolene has led and challenged the industry in addressing the ongoing shortage of skilled engineers and artisans by finding new and innovative ways to excite learners, particularly, the girl child, towards a field of engineering in the automotive sector, where women are underrepresented.

Jolene is ambitious and driven, with a track record in developing, managing and implementing campaigns and strategies requiring a change in attitude and behaviour towards difficult business topics. Some of these initiatives include:

The absence of functional school laboratories does little to promote interest and enthusiasm in the field of science. Jolene has become the driving force behind Science2Go, an innovative science outreach initiative developed by CASME in partnership with MAHLE to take practical science learning to under-resourced schools in rural areas in and around Durban. Learner enrolment in Grade 10 Physical Science in schools improved by 43%.

2019 saw Jolene promoting the Mahle F1 Schools Challenge. Twenty Seven teams from schools around Durban brought their learnt theories to life in a creative, engaging, problem-solving project of designing and engineering scaled F1 cars to be judged, in a variety of categories and then raced on a 24m track to determine the winner.

In 2016, Jolene implemented and project managed a Guinness World Record attempt for the “Largest Practical Science Lesson” for over 2102 learners. With no budget, Jolene relied on her ability to network, collaborating with the media, government and the private sector to undertake this mammoth task.

Jolene is a frequent guest speaker and guest lecturer. In 2018/2019 she was awarded “Best Public Relations Professional” in South Africa by PRISA (Public Relations Institute of South Africa).