Tips for Women in Property & Business

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27 Feb 2013

There is no doubt that while women now have more opportunities than they previously had, they are still discriminated against.

Zola Ntwasa, head of new business real estate finance at Standard Bank Corporate and Investment Banking, as chairperson of the WPN Gauteng Chapter, says they plan to introduce excitement and informative sessions such as meet the CEO session and skills development workshops.

It is therefore important that women, whatever sector they are in, understand that it is still a men’s world and they achieve their goals by not wanting to be men but maintaining who they are, says Frank Berkeley, managing executive at Nedbank Corporate Property Finance.

He was addressing delegates at the Gauteng Chapter of the Women Property Network (WPN) held at Nedbank in Sandton, Johannesburg recently.  

WPN is a platform that allows for women in the property industry to share information, develop business contacts and enhance professional success.

It has chapters in Gauteng, Cape Town and Durban.

In all the time I have listened to Berkeley, this would be one of the more inspiring talks I have heard.

Not because he was talking about women, property and networking, but because he told his story in an emotive way.

Firstly, he puts out a disclaimer that being a man, he knows he is not qualified to speak about women.

However, he is a married man with a daughter as well, so in a way, he knows something about women, his approach to the subject was both insightful, informative, inspiring and very entertaining.

Berkeley had some wise words for women. Firstly, he says it is sometimes surprising to learn that not everyone in the company aspires to be the boss.

For this reason, women and really anyone can be the best at what they do.

He points to life coaching as another tool that could be used to help enhance one’s success and also help to align one’s goals and targets about what they want to achieve.

“A good coach tells it like it is, provided one gets the right coach of course.”

Berkeley notes that because women often have to work twice as hard in a men’s world, many find it difficult to say no.

Frank Berkeley, managing executive at Nedbank Corporate Property Finance, encourages women to feel before they think.

In fact, he says 'no' is a word that should exist in one’s vocabulary, taking on too much is not good, but learning to say no is the first step in creating boundaries and knowing exactly what one is capable of doing, when and how.

Tips for women in business and leadership:

1. Do not try to behave like you think you know how men behave. Rather be authentic and be yourself and not something else.

2. Be charming but do not flirt, there is nothing worse than being successful and people whispering about how you got to the top.

3. Women are innately suited to leadership, they are good listeners, learn quickly, work hard and have no egos – tap into that as much as possible.

“Women have more empathy than men because they understand feelings.”

He encourages women to feel before they think. If for example, a woman was to sit with men during a discussion, she must not be afraid to say what she feels, her intuition could very well be right and this is stronger in women than in men.

Of course, he says at first, she may be laughed at, but understanding their feelings means they own up to them.

4. You cannot be a good leader if you are not a follower. Good leaders listen, they engage their followers, and they are tuned in to what is happening in and around their staff.

“If you think you are the boss all the time, you should not be a boss.”

5. If you do not have values and are not authentic, stay clear of leadership positions.

He points out that leaders with no sense of values are easily found out by the people below and usually, the big boss is the last person to find out how mediocre that person is.

People lose respect for leaders who are not authentic, he says.

6. If you are the boss and looking to promote someone in a team, a good idea is to speak to some members of the team to find out more about that person and how they relate to other people without stating that you want to promote that individual.

Between 2008 and 2009, South Africa saw values drop by between 10 and 15 percent and so bankers have since been cautious on lending, he explains.

7. On personal growth on the job, he says it could very well be that a job limits opportunities of being promoted and if one is happy then it’s worth staying.

However, if a woman feels she could do better and really wants to achieve more than the current job offers, there is no point in staying in a job for 10 years, rather take a chance and move on.

This of course involves being courageous and brave to go into the unknown and it also a good time to find a mentor who can give informed guidance.

8. Do not cry, weepy is bad, says Berkeley. At the same time, be wary of anger, it has its time and place and whatever you do, do no swear, he says.

“Women need to step up and take their place in the world and not to be afraid,” he encourages.

The property market  

On another note, Berkeley says the property market is dependent on what happens in the economy noting that the global economy has impact on South Africa.

Many economists point to a weak economy in 2013 and Nedbank expects the economy to grow by 2.6 percent this year and 3.5 percent in 2014.

Property in South Africa has held reasonably well compared to say the UK where property values (except for London) have dropped by between 30 to 50 percent.

Gauteng Chapter WPN committee members from left: Limor Shklaz (Zenprop) Chele Moyo (IPD), Sandi Mbutuma (Pentad) with Frank Berkeley, managing executive at Nedbank Corporate Property Finance, Zola Ntwasa (Standard Bank) and Lee-Anne Bac (Grant Thornton).

Between 2008 and 2009, South Africa saw values drop by between 10 and 15 percent and so bankers have since been cautious on lending, he explains.

He points out that the level of defaults is much lower than expected despite the recession and lower interest rates that have helped the market.

Berkeley says we are not going to see a property boom experienced in 2007 in the next four years pointing out that listed property is doing great with contained vacancies, even lower in some areas such as Sandton in Johannesburg.

On interest rates, he says if the exchange rate weakens, this could affect interest rate movement and the Rand is very volatile dependent on sentiment.

Berkeley is of the opinion that interest rates in South Africa are still too high when compared to other countries.

In January, the Reserve Bank left interest rates unchanged at 8.5 percent as many had anticipated.

Meanwhile, Zola Ntwasa, head of new business real estate finance at Standard Bank Corporate and Investment Banking, as chairperson of the WPN Gauteng Chapter, says they plan to introduce excitement and informative sessions such as 'meet the CEO' and skills development workshops.

They also hope to introduce coaching sessions and the next Gauteng WPN event will be in May hosted by STANLIB. – Denise Mhlanga

About the Author
Denise Mhlanga

Denise Mhlanga

Property journalist at

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