Industry 'Game Changers' at the WPN Leadership Conference 2016

Genevieve Naidoo, WPN Chair and spokesperson.

Women’s Property Network (WPN) will host their second annual Leadership Conference on the 12th February. The half-day conference, which is sponsored by Standard Bank, is targeted at women working across the real estate sector value chain.

This year’s theme, “Game Changers”, encourages women to become game changers, by taking an out of the box approach to their role in the industry. This includes the way they think, position themselves and transform the sector.

“It is our intention to provide our members with the tools needed to alter their business strategies, and enhance their businesses in order to be successful within the sector”, says Genevieve Naidoo, National Chairwoman of WPN.

Entrepreneur Donna Rachelson will be the event host and the line-up of speakers includes; Phil Barttram, Vice President Real Estate MSCI; Zola Ntwasa (winner of the Entrepreneur Award in the 2015 SA Women in Property Awards); Shaun Rozyn, Director of Rozyn Economic Advisory Services and Cuan Chelin, Founder and CEO of Super-Brands Holdings.

The conference programme will also include a panel discussion with leaders in the real estate sector, including Vuyiswa Mutshekwane, CEO of South African Institute of Black Property Professionals; Bronwyn Corbett, CEO of Delta International; Yondela Silimela, Executive Director of the Development Planning Division in the City of Johannesburg; and Genevieve Naidoo, National Chairwoman of WPN, discussing game changing strategies in the sector.

A key focus for WPN is to help the real estate sector understand the importance of the role of women to their businesses. For those companies not yet ready to invest in women, it is worth noting that gender diversity is critical to bottom lines. According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), companies that include women at top levels of leadership tend to outperform those that don’t. It also ranked South Africa 18th in the 2014 Gender Gap Index, with Iceland in first place, the USA 20th and the UK 26th.

“The development of leaders in our sector is crucial and our involvement in this event in a small way allows us to be part of the growth and development of those leaders. We are also incredibly proud of our association with WPN. Their focus on education and on promoting the role of women in real estate is fundamental to diversity in the sector and key to its success”, says Gary Garrett, Head of Real Estate Finance at Standard Bank.

Ms Naidoo, also Head of Credit for Real Estate at Standard Bank, a board member of RICS and a former WPN Rising Star Award Winner, maintains that educational and mentorship initiatives are key in WPN’s drive to bring about demographic change across the entire spectrum of the real estate sector.

Since 2008 the WPN has awarded over 43 bursaries to previously disadvantaged female students studying towards a property related degree or diploma, and with the increasing financial support of the WPN Educational Trust, in 2015 a total of eleven bursaries were awarded to students studying at various institutions across the country.