Do you take part in mentoring?
I get a lot of requests to mentor younger professionals. I ask them what they want to achieve and ask them to schedule time and to drive the process. I am of the view that the initiative must come from them. Unfortunately, the request for them to drive the mentorship often results in them pulling out. I do mentor the people who work for me; I share with them my personal stories. I like to get involved with younger quantity surveyors; I have given talks such as a recent one I delivered at Wits University.
What makes you tick or keeps you awake at night?
Cash flow keeps me awake at night. I constantly think about how to make ends meet at the end of the month. I am driven by the desire to take the company to the next level. I wonder about how to set myself apart from the many black owned quantity surveying firms out there. What makes them decide on us rather than the many who are coming up and playing in the same field? I feel that I shouldn’t be playing in the same field as many of these firms and therefore I am driven by the desire to differentiate myself.
What awards have you and your firm won?
Over the last four years we have won awards from the PMR surveys. I was the winner of the 2010 Metropolitan Oliver award. In 2013, I travelled to Peru to receive an award for the International Women’s Entrepreneurial Challenge and I have also been honoured locally by the Women Property Network.
How has your firm faired in terms of business growth?
It has been up and down. This year it looks like we will not achieve our projections but that is only as a result of the state of the market and the economy. Our industry is unfortunately one of the first to take a knock when the economy is struggling. I think we have been lucky not to retrench although we don’t replace staff when they resign as part of cutting down on costs.
What has been your firm’s contribution to transformation?
We are a BEE Level 1 company which is black female owned. It is how we sell ourselves and it is reflected in the people that we recruit. We do have white male professionals but they are aware of their responsibility to train younger black professionals. We also promote black talent; we recently made one of our black QS’s an associate director in March this year. I am proud of the number of black professionals who have been registered as quantity surveyors, some of who have started their own firms. I am keen to also teach people to be entrepreneurs.
What has been your contribution to the quantity surveying profession?
I have served on the board of the Association of South African Quantity Surveyors and I currently sit in the South African Council for Quantity Surveyors. I have also served within other associations in the property sector; I was a council member for the South African Property Owners Association up until June this year. Finally, I have been on the Executive Committee of the Women Property Network.
What is your company’s contribution to the community?
Last year we spent our 67 minutes serving at a home in Soweto. We don’t have a planned CSI programme simply because we are not that big a company. But on a personal level I contribute to churches as well as contributing my time in the aforementioned ways.
Are ethics and integrity important objectives in the way you do business?
You cannot be a quantity surveyor if you don’t have integrity. It is a challenge in the industry in general because at times you tender for a job and you are the lowest price, then the rules are changed for unexplained reasons. I personally have not had any ethical dilemmas. The only situation I can mention is when I was once approached to take part in a joint venture with another firm and it turned out that they just wanted to front our black credentials. I walked away from that situation.
How do you measure your customer service?
We are an ISO accredited company and as a result we are required to get feedback from our clients as to the quality of our work. We have a quality policy statement which says that we will exceed our client’s expectations. We have a pledge not to exceed the budget agreed by more than 10 percent. Whenever we ask our clients to score our service it is always within the range of 4 out of 5 and 5 out of 5.