After being named as a finalist in the 16th annual Standard Bank Top Women Awards by Topco Media and Communications, Ulana van Biljon, Chief Operating Officer at Emira Property Fund, was honoured with the top award in the property category.
The Standard Bank Top Women Awards recognises those whose efforts have been uplifting women in business and society in general over the past twenty-five years of democracy and who look set to continue to do so for the next twenty-five years. Van Biljon has shown a continuous commitment to building an inclusive economy and changing the face of business in South Africa.
Ulana is a pioneer for women in the property sector and was one of the first female executive directors to sit on a board of a JSE-listed real estate investment trust (REIT). Today, Ulana remains one of only a small handful of women to have earned a seat at the listed property leadership table.
As Chief Operating Officer of Emira Property Fund, Ulana applies her twenty-three plus years of experience in the listed and unlisted property sector to execute and implement the company’s strategy while making sure its operational results are achieved.
Known as an accomplished executive, who has contributed much to South Africa’s business landscape, Ulana is sought out as a mentor by women who are new to leadership roles, and the COO role specifically, both within the property sector and beyond. While extremely modest about being a role model for other women in the property sector, female colleagues and associates who have worked alongside her often credit Ulana as the inspiration behind their own success, and praise both her proficiency and empathy.
Ralf Fletcher, CEO of Topco Media and Communications, says of the awards:
“By driving discussions around gender for the past 16 years, we have encouraged both men and women to change their understanding of women’s role in business and society.”
Being identified as an individual who is effecting meaningful change at South Africa’s premier gender empowerment event gives winners a platform to promote their achievements and become a source of inspiration for sector peers. With her many accomplishments, Van Biljonwill certainly do the same.
“I am humbled by this award. It is pleasing to see more directorships in the property sector being held by women, and I hope to see this increase even more in future. More inclusive and diverse boards and executive teams result in better businesses that are more relevant and sustainable,” says Ulana.