Always Carry a Spare Pair of High Heels with You
My journey as a woman in the real estate industry has taught me a lot about myself, about people, and what it means to always stand tall, maintain composure, and always own your worth as a woman.
My academic background comprises a Bachelor of Commerce Degree in Marketing Management (UNISA). I have been married to one spectacular imperfect human being for 7 years and am a proud mother of 3 future phenomenal women.
Right after completing my studies in 2010, I did a short stint in the medical surgical device industry as a Marketing Assistant Intern. I felt pressured to join the sales team. It was then that I reached the life-changing conclusion that I really wanted to sell “pretty houses” instead.
I wanted to be my own boss, dictate my own hours and still see to my family’s needs. Being a real estate agent was the best career choice for me. Make no mistake, it’s not always smooth-sailing. It can be a lot of work and sometimes you have to make sacrifices. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I entered the real estate industry in Midrand then moved to commercial property and joined Auction Exchange/Commercial Exchange in 2014. What a world of a difference. Moving from residential property, which is more emotionally motivated, to a more functional commercial industry. This is more about engaging with investors over numbers, zoning, yields, bulk ratios, return on investment and gross lettable areas.
The industry is male dominated and while more women are entering the industry, we still have to overcome the assumption that we are less competent. I’ve had to learn to be fierce in negotiations and remain confident in my knowledge, experience, and abilities.
I’ve learned that I don’t have to try and fit in with the boys to produce outstanding results for my clients. This is an industry that requires you to be strong and professional, regardless of gender, and to not take anything personally. It forces you to be persistent and accept disappointment. There are a lot of curveballs and it rarely goes the way you want it to.
My advice to any women looking to enter the commercial industry would be… “Always trust your instincts when it comes to any situation and be aware of your surroundings, you could find yourself in a property that is occupied by unsavoury characters. Also, always carry a spare pair of shoes as it’s not practical to wear high heels to an industrial or commercial site with multiple storeys and no electricity.”
Malefa Kekana is a Commercial Property Broker focussing primarily in Randburg, Fourways and Sandton. She also dabbles in Newtown