Tongaat Hulett Development Director, Karen Petersen, has won the award for Professional of the Year: Corporate/Private Sector at the recent regional Woman in Property awards. The national judging will be held on the 26 October at a gala dinner to be held at Montecasino in Gauteng.
Hosted by the Woman’s Property Network (WPN), these awards recognize outstanding leadership, inspiration, vision and innovation in organizations that have stepped up and shaped women’s roles within the private and public sectors.
Commenting on Petersen’s award and the impact that women are making in the traditionally male-dominated property industry, the Managing Director of Tongaat Hulett Developments, Mr Mike Deighton said, “We are extremely proud of Karen who’s a worthy recipient of the KZN award. And, with her dedication, expertise and professionalism and the importance of the portfolio that she manages, we have no doubt that she is a worthy candidate for nomination to the national award for Professional of the Year in the Corporate/Private category.”
Petersen, who was humbled by her award, says that the competition was extremely tough: that she didn’t expect to be a winner. In fact, when initially asked if she could be nominated, her response was….
“I don’t stand a chance! There are so many other women out there who are more deserving of this!” Her peers, however, felt differently and Petersen was nominated by individuals both within Tongaat Hulett as well as from outside the organisation by Jade Capital Partners, a 100 percent black-women owned and managed investment holding company.
A key criterion was for nominees to be active in the property sector and Petersen, as Tongaat Hulett Development Director, certainly met this condition. In this role, she is responsible for several landholdings owned by Tongaat Hulett, including Cornubia, the Cabinet endorsed national priority project and eThekwini’s first ever fully integrated human settlement, as well as smaller integrated human settlement projects on landholdings within the greater Tongaat area.
The daughter of a Cape Town builder, Petersen always knew she wanted to be in the construction and property sector and has an undergraduate degree in Architecture as well as a Master’s Degree in City and Regional study from the University of Cape Town. After 12 years as a Professional Planner, Petersen believed she lacked the requisite knowledge, skills and business insight that she needed in the corporate world and studied for a Master’s in Business Administration degree (MBA) also at UCT. This two-year modular programme required a huge emotional investment and, “an extraordinary amount of self-discipline,” admitted Petersen.
Commenting on winning the regional award, Petersen said that it really stands out as one of the highlights of her career. “It proves that with hard work and a strong belief and passion for what you do; perseverance and tenacity can take you far. It’s good to see that there are platforms which recognise women’s efforts in the property industry and I feel both privileged and honoured to have won this very prestigious award.”
Elaborating, Sandi Mbutuma, WPN Vice Chair said, “The award categories reflect a wide spectrum of work these deserving women from the public and private sectors are involved in.
This includes CEO’s, executives and leaders in corporate South Africa, SMME’s, government departments and agencies, as well as entrepreneurs.
“Winning this regional award and has given me further inspiration to continue learning and trying to influence players in our value chain through our land conversion activities at Tongaat Hulett,” said Petersen.
As a key player in what has been pretty much a ‘man’s world’, Petersen says land and property development is an interesting sector of the industry. “I am part of influencing the growth and development of a city and it’s a space I hope to be in for a few more years.”