MEC Pillay's leadership qualities were recognised from an early age. His early leadership role included his being head prefect at Port Shepstone Secondary where he matriculated in 1975. He completed his BA LLB at University of Durban Westville and qualified as an attorney. He was a student activist in 1976 working with then student leaders such as Jay Naidoo and Valli Moosa. MEC Pillay was recruited into the ranks of the African National Congress in Swaziland in 1981. His earlier political life was in the Black Consciousness Movement. His professional life as a lawyer took a backseat to his social and political activism. He served on a number of political, cultural and sporting bodies mainly on the South Coast.
During the turbulent period of political violence in the Province in the late 1980s and early 1990s he served on the Port Shepstone Peace Committee. He has been a branch, regional and today, a provincial leader of the African National Congress, where he serves on the Provincial Executive Committee (PEC) and Provincial Working Committee (PWC). He contested and won a ward as an ANC councillor. He was the first Speaker of the Hibiscus Coast Municipality before becoming the Speaker of the Ugu District Municipality. In 2009 he was elected to the Provincial Legislature and served as Chief Whip of the ANC until 2011 when he was appointed MEC. Community work and building the non-racial platform is very close to his heart. He is active in the campaign against drugs and social ills in our Province. Looking back on the history of struggle among all our communities he constantly urges people to again get involved in their communities. MEC Pillay is a hardworking public servant, leading by example and dedicated to the task of moving South Africa forward.