News Women's Month 2022

Tenacious and feisty: Nkuli Bogopa, COO of Broll Property Management

Nkuli Bogopa

Early on in her career, Nkuli Bogopa recognised that the property sector has enormous potential as a catalyst for change. In her role as COO of Broll Property Management, she forms part of a growing number of women who are leading change in the real estate sector.

When Bogopa joined Broll Property Group (Broll) in 2018, she was initially responsible for the business’s brand positioning and tender division. “I was grateful to be given a role that cut across all divisions in the business promoting collaboration, allowing me to get to know everyone in the organisation”.

A few months later, she was appointed MD of the largest division in the group, Broll Property Management. “It was a deep sea for me to navigate and I had to quickly get my head around the different players and clients in the landscape”.

In addition, Bogopa went on to caretake one of the groups’ listed funds’ portfolios which got her even more firmly entrenched in the business. In this role, her responsibilities included taking a closer look into the portfolio and client environment, as well as the various aspects of her team’s interface with the client.

Most recently, with new shareholders on the groups’ board and the business’s transition to a Level 1 BEEE company, the group’s structure was reassessed. Each division is now headed up by a COO, which Bogopa, as the first incumbent in the role, fulfils for the Broll Property Management cluster of services; Property Management, Retail Leasing & Sectional Title services, designed to drive real estate performance and asset value.

Before joining Broll, Bogopa had acquired more than 20 years of experience in the real estate industry, much of it on the technical side. An architect by profession, she transitioned from the hard-core built environment into the real estate corporate services space via facilities management.

I preferred being on the more technical side of the sector as I felt it kept me closer to the built environment that I was so passionate about. Over time, however, I realised I could make a more meaningful impact on the industry in an administrative role”.

Bogopa’s move to Broll represented her first role on the services side of the property business as opposed to the occupier side. “For me, it was an intentional move, because I recognised that Broll enjoyed significant exposure in the real estate industry. If you work for an occupier, you are only in one client environment. With Broll, however, I have oversight of half the client real estate landscape in the country”.

A common thread throughout Bogopa’s career is never finding any task or role she is assigned beneath her. “If I’m intentional about the direction I want to take, even if it means scaling back a bit, I will do it to gain inroads into the area. Patience and focus on pursuing what you’re after are vital”.

While operating in a highly male-dominated industry has proved challenging at times, Bogopa’s sheer passion for the sector meant that no amount of pushback was going to hold her back. In addition, her tenacious nature means that no situation is too difficult for her to overcome.

I never look for the easy way out. I always feel if there’s a problem, someone’s got to solve it, right? And why not me? Because, if not me, the next person might also think it’s not up to them. When I do come across a challenge, I’m generally the first to put my hand up to help overcome it. That way, I can be the change I want to see”, she says.

Her advice to young women in the industry is to stay the course. “Female architects only make up about 12% of the profession. I find this perplexing. I expect that many of the women find the challenges insurmountable and decide to walk away, which is sad. I would advise them not to give up, especially if they are passionate about the industry. Only then can women begin to make a dent in the parity gap”.

Bogopa currently forms part of a 100% female executive within her team. “Our EXCO is diverse and vibrant. I have found that our diversity has resulted in a greater number of ideas and less of a one-minded approach, while still being able to lead ourselves toward a common goal”.

The group has a strong female complement, making up 60% of the total workforce.

I find that the admin-intensive nature of what we do, such as financial reporting, is well suited to women as they are particularly good at paying attention to detail”.

Our team is accountable and excellent at client relationship management. You see it in the kind of ownership they take in their spheres of influence in the workplace. I am not discounting the output of our male counterparts but find it refreshing to see how our largely female-powered team is delivering on its mandate”, she adds.

To young women looking to enter the property sector, Bogopa says it is a great place to build a career. “The beauty of this industry is that it requires diverse skill sets, from legal and financial, to marketing, sales, technical and administrative skills, the opportunities are many and varied”.

The greatest advice she offers to young people who want to make their mark in the property industry is to not view any function or task as being beneath them. “Work is not exclusively about fireworks or bells and whistles. It’s the seemingly mundane functions that we do every day that are the core of the business”.

Many young people fail to connect the dots in terms of how they fit into the bigger picture. For example, many do not recognise the crucial role a leasing manager plays in terms of the value of an asset and, ultimately, the profitability of the organisation and value-add to shareholders”.

My advice this Women’s Month is that we all must start somewhere, so wherever you start, make sure you put all your heart into it and become so excellent at it that you become an expert in that field. Do not take for granted any role that you are entrusted with. Look for a mentor that will faithfully mentor you – a strong mentor can change the trajectory of your career”.

That said, the property industry is a dynamic space to work in and offers excellent growth opportunities and career paths for young women looking to make their mark on the sector and, more broadly, the country”.