Interview Who's Who in Property

Lessons from a leading property woman: Heidi Rix

Heidi Rix, Director Investor Services, Broll Property Group.

Heidi Rix, Director for Investor Services at Broll Property Group was recently appointed to the South African Council of Shopping Centres (SACSC) Board of Directors 2015/2016 following the recent annual general meeting of the organisation.

This makes Rix the first woman representative from Broll from the time the company became a member of the SACSC since its inception over 20 years ago. According to Amanda Stops, SACSC CEO, in 2012, the new Memorandum of Incorporation was adopted and so they changed from a National Council to a Board of Directors. In 2008 Maurice Mdlolo (then director at Broll) was elected as a National Council member and Group CEO of the Broll Property Group, Malcolm Horne served on the Board of Directors from 2013 – 2015.

The SACSC is a non-profit organisation with individual and corporate membership aimed at setting standards and promoting the development of the industry by creating communication opportunities, providing information and education, encouraging ethical and professional behaviour and to safeguard the interests of its members.

Career history

Rix is an admitted attorney with B Comm LLB degrees specialising in property investment management with over 18 years of experience in the corporate and property industry.

She joined Broll in December 2012 as Divisional Director for Asset Management until January 2014, when she was promoted to her current role as Director: Investor Services at the Broll Property Group.

Prior to joining Broll, Heidi successfully managed her own property investment consulting business for over two years and has worked as a director for Atterbury Asset Managers as well as general manager for RMB Properties (Pty) Ltd (now known as Eris Property Group).

Her current role entails overseeing and accountability for the Investor Services Division across the Group which includes the asset and property management divisions as well as the retail leasing teams.

Her areas of specialised expertise include asset management, investment management, portfolio management, portfolio and management structures and performance management, lease management models, value optimisation of property assets, property acquisitions and disposals, real estate development projects (Greenfield opportunities), redevelopment/refurbishment projects (Brownfield opportunities), portfolio analysis and due diligence, liaison between core business and real estate environment, strong contractual, organisational, financial and analytical skills, lease negotiation and strategic input and management.

Rix is a member of professional bodies including the SACSC and the South African Property Owners Association.
Even though her career has seen her in management and leadership positions, Rix remains firmly grounded and believes respect is earned and not demanded. As one of the women in senior management positions in the Group, she shares some insight into the world of leadership.

What is the best and worst decision you’ve ever made?

“The best decision business wise (personally would be my husband) was to venture into the commercial real estate sector rather than remain purely in the legal environment. The worst decision from a career perspective was giving trust to those who did not deserve it.”

What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership?

“The misplaced perception that women make decisions emotionally rather than as a consequence of experience, intelligence and thorough business opportunity and risk assessment.”

What woman inspires you and why?

“There have been many women who have inspired me over the years and they all generally share the same character traits – strength, pride, integrity, perseverance, commitment, energy and mentorship / giving back and helping others as well as an ability to find simultaneous success and fulfilment in their personal lives and careers.”

What will be the biggest challenge for the generation of women behind you in the real estate sector in particular and in South Africa in general?

“Firstly, I would like women to have confidence in their own abilities and recognise their potential without gender comparison of any kind and accept constructive criticism as just that and not any other form of discrimination. However, having said that, some women sadly still face gender bias and the biggest challenge will be to sit in a meeting of peers at any level and be perceived as a business colleague first and woman second.”

How do you encourage creative thinking within your organisation?

“I like to encourage people to take ownership, accountability, have pride in and enjoy what they do as well as have respect for their peers and others – all of which create the ultimate desire to fulfil or exceed expectations and be successful, which in turn leads to creative thoughts to find solutions, implement improvements and add value rather than just identify problems. There is opportunity in everything – even failure. Here is a favourite quote of mine by Lori Greiner an inventor and investor: “Dear optimist, pessimist, and realist – while you guys were busy arguing about the glass of wine, I drank it! Sincerely, the opportunist!”

What is one characteristic that you believe every leader should possess?

“Respect – given to those led and earned from those being led.”

What advice would you give someone going into a leadership position for the first time (particularly women)?

“Never forget how you got there and what it took to get there – it will take the same commitment, effort and energy to stay there. Ensure that you learn something new every day and help others in turn to grow every day – you are only as strong as your team. Leadership may be a reward but it is also a responsibility to yourself and those you lead and report to.”

“There is a quote from Sheryl Sandberg that I find appropriate to this: “I want every little girl who is told she is bossy to be told that she has leadership skills”.

What are you doing to ensure you continue to grow and develop as a leader?

“I try to learn from my mistakes, be more patient, learn something new every day, rise to new challenges, delegate more, always ask “why” and keep myself grounded and motivated so that I may continue to meet the expectations and objectives of my team and corporate responsibility.”

What are the three things you carry always in your handbag?

“My wallet, cellphone and lip-ice (more important than lipstick)”.

Describe yourself in three words?

“Ethical, hard-working and passionate.”