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By Mzukona Mantshontsho

TURNER & TOWNSEND is an independent professional services company specializing in programme management, project management, cost management and advisory across the real estate, infrastructure and natural resources sectors. Turner & Townsend has over 108 offices in 45 countries.

The South African Professional Services Academy spoke to Associate Director Noluthando Molao about her personal and professional journey thus far.

Noluthando has been involved in various capital projects such as the Gautrain, New Orlando Stadium and Precinct Development in the real estate and infrastructure sectors. She is currently responsible for business generation in the public sector specifically focusing on real estate and infrastructure within South Africa.

What does it mean to you that your colleagues have entrusted you with the position of Associate Director?

It is a stamp of approval to be entrusted with this position at Turner & Townsend. I have worked very hard over the last 15 years on my career and I am a professional Construction Project Manager with the SACPCMP.

What would you like to have achieved by the end of your term?

One of my goals is to establish and grow Turner & Townsend’s presence and support on capital projects within the public sector. As indicated by the Finance Minister Tito Mboweni in his mid-term policy budget speech, “there is a shortage of professional skills in government and there is a need to capacitate the delivery bodies such ad DBSA, National Treasury GTAC with professional services such as Cost Management, Project Management and Engineering”. Turner & Townsend is one of the largest and still independent, Level 1 BBBEE companies that are perfectly placed to address these issues through our Programme Management, Project Management, Cost Management and Advisory services.

I am passionate about education and would like to have successfully mentored several graduates to register professionally with the SACPCMP. I am also passionate about the transformation of the built environment and would like to have positively contributed to the transformation of the industry, especially relating to providing equal opportunities for women and previously disadvantaged individuals.

How would you describe your management and leadership styles?

My leadership style is to coach. I believe that people can reach their full potential if equipped with the right tools, support and training. I believe people learn faster when allocated tasks that stretch them higher than their current capability. Monitoring, training and periodic feedback allows a two-way engagement that benefits us.

What makes you tick or keeps you awake at night with respect to your position?

I am concerned about reports I hear of the backlog of infrastructure and urban development challenges, yet there is annual government underspending on approved budgets. The current procurement process in the Public Sector should be reviewed to create greater efficiencies while providing best practice governance standards.

How do you take part in mentoring others?

I am professional mentor with the Council for the Built Environment. I am also a facilitator as an Industry Expert with GIBS on the NHBRC Women in Construction Programme. I mentor in an official and unofficial capacity. I am extensively involved in creating awareness of the different career options for women within the Built Environment and I hope that mentoring others in this space positively contributes to the increase in the number of professionally registered women in our industry.

If you had to relate a couple of experiences, what would be the highs and what would be the lows of your working career?

In recognition of my hard work over the last 10 years, my highs would include receiving several awards in 2016, namely South Africa Construction Awards – Women in Construction; Women in Property Network – Professional of the year; and Women in Construction – Pioneer of Innovation Award.

I have also had the privilege of working on a couple of South Africa’s iconic projects such as the construction of the New Orlando Stadium and recently the Gautrain Station Platform Extensions at OR Tambo International Airport.

Highs at the start of my career would have been graduating and receiving my qualification in BSc Quantity Surveying and Postgraduate Diploma in Property Development and Management.

As a woman in a male dominated industry, one of the lows I have experienced in the past has been the feeling of needing to prove that I deserve to be in the position that I am in, more so than others, and need to work harder to get recognition.

What accolades have you and your organisation received recently?

Aside from the accolades I have personally received and mentioned earlier, Turner & Townsend has received several awards recently including:

  1. The Board of Trade award by the UK’s Department for International Trade (DIT). This award recognizes our contribution to employment and development in the region through our professional and CSR activities in South Africa
  2. ACE Awards: Best UK business performance – large firm, 2018
  3. South Africa Construction Awards Quantity Surveyor of the Year 2017
  4. Building Awards 2017 CEO of the year
  5. Sunday Times Top Track 250 2017
  6. Conscious Companies Awards-Finalist in the Leadership category
  7. 2016 South African Planning Institute (SAPI) award Ekurhuleni OR Tambo Aerotropolis Master Plan project, South Africa (as part of a consortium)
  8. Uk-China Infrastructure Africa Infrastructure Alliance PartnerThe UK and Chinese Governments have set up a UK-China Infrastructure Alliance which brings together complementary expertise and skills to help UK and Chinese businesses to develop competitive offerings in both countries and in international markets, including Africa. It was agreed that the implementation of this initiative was to be delivered in partnership with industry and Turner & Townsend have been appointed as the strategic partner organisation that will work with both sides to develop how the Alliance should take effect in Africa, including what the specific functions are for each government in making this a success.
  9. Deputy Vice President of the South African Council for Quantity Surveyors – Our Head of Cost Management for Africa – Keith Skinner, is the currently the Deputy Vice President of the South African Council for Quantity Surveyors
  10. SACPCMP Finance Committee Chairperson – I am the 5th Term Board Councillor on the South Africa Council for Project and Construction Management Professions (SACPCMP), Finance Committee Chairperson.
  11. NHBRC Council Member – I am a Council Member at the National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC)
  12. I am a NED on the Johannesburg Social Housing Company (JOSHCO).


How has the firm fared in terms of achieving its business growth objectives?

Turner & Townsend has continued to grow in an incredibly difficult financial climate. We have high ambitions and a strong team to help deliver them. In Africa, performance across the region showed great improvement in 2017–2018 as political instability lessened and the leadership changes in Kenya, South Africa and Zimbabwe took effect. Overall revenue for the year was up by 27.3 percent. Globally our business resilience and our ability to embrace change has allowed us to deliver our eighth year of consecutive growth. Excellent performance in 2017–2018 saw our turnover increase by 12 percent to £549m and operating profit by 18 percent to £55.5m. In February of this year Turner & Townsend announced that its Kenya business was to merge with Nairobi-based project management firm Mentor Management Limited (MML). Turner & Townsend acquired the majority stake in MML from leading growth markets investor – Actis. The merger of our Kenya operation with MML, sees MML Turner & Townsend become the largest independent project and programme Management Company in East Africa.  This was a milestone achievement in our Africa expansion plan as we continue to grow across the continent. Turner & Townsend also opened an office this year in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, increasing our footprint to 9 offices across Africa.

Through what means does the organisation ensure that the firm maintains high level of ethics and integrity?

Turner & Townsend joined the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) – a leading global responsibility business initiative, and have committed to the UNGC 10 principles on human and labour rights, anti-corruption and environment; and to support the 2030 UN Sustainable Development Goal.

In terms of upholding high ethical standards, we have built a culture where strong ethics are embedded in the way we work. The leaders of our business set the tone and we are expected, as staff, to embed our policies and guidelines; including ethics, dignity at work and equal opportunities policies.

We complete ethics training and make an annual anti-bribery and corruption (ABC) declaration. This year we introduced additional ABC assurance processes, which resulted in enhanced training and additional checks when appointing contractors in higher-risk locations.

In 2017, we launched an external ABC hotline, sitting alongside our existing internal system, to enable our people to raise any concerns independently. We are also committed to ensuring our business and supply chains are free of any practices of modern slavery and human trafficking. We published our Modern Slavery Act statement online in 2016.

To hold our integrity in the industry we need to maintain our position as our clients’ trusted partner by delivering great outcomes. Extending the positive legacy of their assets, supporting safe and efficient construction, protecting resources for future generations, and upholding the highest ethical standards.

To do this, our primary focus is in maintaining consistently high standards of service excellence that exceed client expectations. To monitor our service quality, we seek regular feedback on core client care criteria, including performance, innovation and value for money. Our client care score this year of 8.1 out of 10 signifies our success at helping our clients reach the standards and goals they set. We are determined to further increase our client care score and continue to deliver consistently high quality services to all our clients.

We track our integrity in the industry as one of our four pillars of CSR. We report on the results and improvements of this metric in our CSR Annual Review. Results from our previous financial year can be found here http://www.turnerandtownsend.com/en/insights/annual-review-2017-2018/corporate-responsibility/our-performance. In summary our integrity scores showed that on average our clients score us at 82% for client service and 90% of our staff globally had completed our anti-bribery and corruption training at the time that the review went to print.

We continue to have influential roles in industry bodies and steering groups, currently as a group holding 55 leadership positions within the industry including local appointments previously mentioned:

  1. Deputy Vice President of the South African Council for Quantity Surveyors – Our Head of Cost Management for Africa – Keith Skinner, is the currently the Deputy Vice President of the South African Council for Quantity Surveyors
  2. SACPCMP Finance Committee Chairperson – I am the 5th Term Board Councillor on the South Africa Council for Project and Construction Management Professions (SACPCMP), Finance Committee Chairperson.
  3. NHBRC Council Member – I am a Council Member at the National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC)
  4. I am a NED on the Johannesburg Social Housing Company (JOSHCO).


We also demonstrate our integrity and ethics in the way we engage with our industry’s supply chain. We value how small and medium enterprises (SMEs) benefit local economies and wider society and encourage them to work with us on projects that fit their capabilities and improve our offering. To protect their interests, we aim to make sure they are not overly dependent on our business and engage with policymakers on how SMEs can contribute to major projects. Our supplier development programme in South Africa highlights how we are using our scale and insights to support SMEs with the adoption of industry standards and commercial practices that will support their growth. We are also committed to improving our social and environmental performance through our supply chain. A questionnaire covering management systems, policies and performance relating to bribery and corruption, diversity, equal opportunities, the environment, and health and safety, supports our supplier selection process.

Is transformation considered a key objective at the firm, and if so, how is it attended to?

Yes, absolutely. We are a Level 1 B-BBEE company in South Africa and transformation is fundamental to achieving our Corporate Vision. We believe that through a complimentary combination of meaningful transformation, localisation and delivery of a world class service, we are able to make a difference to business across the Africa region and in the sectors where we operate. We were rated in the top 3 at the Conscious Companies awards in 2017 for our progress in this area.

Our main objectives are to: Acquire, retain and develop local talent, and deliver world class quality projects using local resources from within the countries in which we operate. We aim to achieve these objectives through: Build local capacity and capability in each country we work in and create employment opportunities; develop local employees and citizens; create an entry into the workforce for graduates and learners with limited or no work experience; accelerate development of local talented employees into senior positions; transfer skills to local employees to allow for their growth within and outside of Turner & Townsend; and mobilise local resources within Turner & Townsend Africa and globally.

We have 15 initiatives running that contribute to the success of our transformation objectives.

Kindly highlight some recent contributions by the firm to the community and to the relevant professions your professionals are a part of.

Turner & Townsend has 15 initiatives running that contribute to the success of our transformation objectives, which includes the community and professionals in our industry as key stakeholders. Some of the highlights across these initiatives include:

  • 10 Bursaries offered in the past 2 years
  • 37 Internships provided in the past 5 years
  • 18 Graduates through our Graduate programme in the past 5 years
  • 30 Candidates through our Accelerated Development Programme last year
  • 108 CPD Sessions conducted in house in the past 5 years
  • 25 secondments in the past 3 years to the Middle East, United States, LATAM and United Kingdom
  • 99% of our people completed their career development plans last year
  • 49 courses available via our online portal to our staff and clients’ staff
  • On average 89% of the employees in each of our offices are local (i.e. not expats)
  • 76 suppliers have engaged with our supplier development programme in the past 5 years
  • 1777 staff hours committed to volunteer work this year

On the CSR front, Turner & Townsend. #TT5000futures is a corporate campaign that commits to reach 5000 children and young people from diverse backgrounds through our education and employability programmes. We have had some major successes to date; every region has pledged their support. South Africa are working with local schools and support young people and children through volunteering, fundraising and donation drives. Our MML Turner & Townsend team in Nairobi has partnered with a local children’s home for several years and are helping to renovate their facilities to ensure the home can support orphans through education and into employment. In addition, MML Turner & Townsend is exploring mentoring opportunities for young people who currently live in the home.

How does the firm ensure that professionalism and good customer service are upheld?

We begin by employing the best professionals in their respective fields, we employ stringent Quality Assurance/Quality Control processes and pro-actively participate in the mentorship of our staff throughout their careers. We have a Client Care process which we pro-actively implement in order to understand directly from our clients where they feel our teams have underperformed and where we have excelled. The benchmarks we have put in place around service excellence and conducting client care feedback meetings are as follows:

  • Commission managers should talk to their clients at least once a month
  • Directors should talk to service leads within the client organisations at least every 3 months
  • Our client care tool should be used to obtain quicker feedback from our clients in addition to the conversations you should be having with them, face to face, on a regular basis.
  • We must act on what the client is telling us and all results from meetings regardless of whether they are positive or negative

When you are not working, what do you get up to and where can people follow you online?

I love to travel locally and internationally. I serve at Rhema Bible Church in the Hosts Ministry. My favourite activity is to spend time playing with my one-year old daughter. I enjoy hosting family and friends. I always strive to reach my optimal state and recently I attended a S.O.A.R Institute workshop that has equipped me with the tools I need currently and for the future. I am active on Twitter and LinkedIn as Noluthando Molao.




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