SPEAR REIT’S CHRISTIAAN BARNARD

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SPEAR REIT LIMITED was listed as a Real Estate Investment Trust (“REIT”) on the AltX of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) on 11 November 2016.

The main business is investing in high-quality income-generating real estate across all sectors predominantly in the Cape Town region. The company’s property and asset management functions are internally and directly managed by the Spear executive management team.

SAprofessionals.com spoke to Chief Financial Officer Christiaan Barnard about his personal and professional journey thus far.

Tell us about your early life, your training, professional development to your role

I went to Paul Roos Gymnasium in Stellenbosch and completed my Matric in 2006. I completed my B. Com Accounting Honours at Stellenbosch University in 2011. I completed my Audit Articles at Grant Thornton Cape Town in November 2014. I completed my US secondment (6 Months) at Grant Thornton Tampa in May 2015. I completed my US secondment (6 Months) Grant Thornton Dallas in May 2016. I was appointed by Spear REIT Limited as Financial Director in August 2016.  The title changed to Chief Financial Officer of Spear REIT Limited in May 2018.

I’m a Chartered Accountant that has been exposed to the real estate sector from a very young age and understand the demands associated with unlocking value in a real estate environment. I have experience in audit practices in various industries including software development and support, oil and gas production and property REIT holdings.

What inspired you to join the industry?

After my Chartered Accountancy qualification I was looking for a role that will challenge me and joining Spear provided me with this opportunity and to join a team of industry professionals that has the respect of the entire property industry and I could learn from them to develop myself and challenge myself.

What does it mean to you that your colleagues have entrusted you with your current position of Chief Financial Officer in the organisation?

Having gained the trust of Spear Executive Committee and Board that is made up of seasoned industry veterans with accolades and respect industry wide provides you with more gratitude and self believe that can never be put into words.

You have had several academic and professional achievements, which one stands out for you and why?

My greatest achievement will be making the decision to continue to pursue the Chartered Accountancy route after I failed my first attempt at my Honours degree.

What advice do you have for students who are looking forward to joining the profession?

There is no substitute for hard work. If you put in the work the results will follow.

What has been the highlight of your career?

Listing of Spear and the growth and success of the company that the executive team has managed to achieve in an economy and sector that has been incredibly difficult. At Spear we celebrate as a team and every achievement is celebrated as a team together. Another proud achievement is knowing I have gained the trust and respect of my board that consist of seasoned business and property veterans. To a point where they would come to me for advice and guidance.

What principles and values do you think are important for a young professional?

Never be afraid to learn and develop your skills and knowledge. Strive to challenge yourself and push your limits and take on challenges that are outside your comfort zone. You are capable of a lot more than you think of and the only way to find out what you really can do is to believe in yourself and take those impossible challenges head on. Don’t be afraid to challenge the norm and think differently. If you don’t put your idea forward, then you can’t be mad or disappointed if no one used it.

Explain what contribution you have made to the company since joining it?

A short description from Spear CEO describes this best: “Christiaan took on the challenges with both hands and no task was ever too much for him and together with the listing team Christiaan spent countless hours building models, reviewing the pre-listing statement, engaging with the JSE and assisting the MD with preparing IPO presentations for the pre-listing process. Since listing Spear Christiaan has played a key role in the growth of Spear through prudent capital, debt and structure management. Christiaan has shown a talent and skill ahead of his age and continues to add value to the underlying business of Spear through his key inputs to the CEO & Board of Spear. I can without a shadow of a doubt nominate Christiaan as a top CFO in the real estate sector who thinks beyond what is required and is always well prepared for any challenge.

Outside of his financial and management acumen Christiaan is a key part of the social fabric of our organization and always has the ability to pull people together to achieve a common goal. Christiaan has a strong value system and ensures that Spear is at the cutting edge of compliance in the listed landscape.”

Who stands out for you as a role model and why?

Spear CEO, Quintin Rossi. His incredible story of ‘hard work pays off’ is what I strive to achieve.

He is one of the most successful individuals in the property sector today and he is self-made. His work ethic and his knowledge of the property sector is second to none. He has found the secret to success in business, while being the best father and husband and has found the perfect work life balance.

He never fails to be there for anyone in time of need. What I have learned from him is that you can be successful, in both business and family while being modest and down to earth, but still have more hunger to grow in business and as a person.

Where do you want your career to be in 10 years time?

If possible and I don’t have any conflicts, I would like to sit on other non-property boards or audit committees while still maintaining my role at Spear to assist in reviewing and ensuring the financial and corporate governance is complied with as well as providing my operational input.

I would like to have grown in Spear in such a manner that if the time had to come that the Current CEO and Board would consider me as a potential candidate to one day stand in that role. Being part of the CEO consideration would mean that I have developed professionally but also personally. Being a CEO takes a lot more than just being the person driving the company. A CEO must have the personal skill to deal with all levels of employees, stakeholders, customers and suppliers. Thus, being considered for the CEO role would mean that I have grown as a person for the better.

What community upliftment activities do you engage in?

Spear as a company gives back to the community thus it would not be fair of me to take any credit for this. We donate to charities and provide training as far as our resources allow.

Do you believe your company is a great company to work for? Please list recent achievements that make it stand out from others in the same industry.

We as an executive team believes that through the growth of Spear, we will be able to provide our staff with the opportunity to grow both financially, through personal development, skills development with training courses they attend. We strive to develop our staff internally and provide them with the resources and skills to improve themselves.

How does your company contribute to the development of the profession and to the betterment of the community?

Spear was the first property firm to conclude an agreement with Ndifuna Ukwazi to include affordable housing in our residential development and agree to terms on the criteria for the affordable housing criteria.

Spear is closely working with the City of Cape Town to have the approval of large-scale solar power system approved. To have the framework for wheeling between properties established and the framework for feeding excess power generated back into the grid to lower the demand on Eskom and Coal power.

When you not at work, what do you get up to including family life?

I love to run to clear my head as this is the only time, I can’t answer an email. Running also provides me with another activity where I can challenge myself to improve and compete. I love exploring new restaurants with my wife (also why I have to run so much).

Where can people follow you online?

Instagram – @cbarnardv

Facebook – Christiaan Barnard

LinkedIn – Christiaan Barnard

Instagram of Spear – Spear REIT Limited

Facebook of Spear – Spear REIT Limited

LinkedIn of Spear – Spear REIT Limited.

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