Home » Successful business through a strong female presence & respectful leadership By Dominique Haese, CEO at Nova Property Group (SA)

Successful business through a strong female presence & respectful leadership By Dominique Haese, CEO at Nova Property Group (SA)

by Media Xpose

I have some 26 years’ experience in financial management and reporting, taxation and auditing in various industries, of which 17 years have been in property, with 9 years in property project development leadership, developing and managing commercial, mixed-use and residential property, with the view to enhancing the bottom line.

One of the boldest decisions of my career was when I decided to head up the restructuring of some R4.5 billion property syndicated investments.

During 2010, the Reserve Bank closed the South African property syndication industry. Hundreds of thousands of investors (PS investors), lost their livelihoods, basically overnight.

Whilst in discussion with Reserve Bank officials, I made myself available, procured a Board and together proposed to some 20 000 PS Investors, four Schemes of Arrangement (Schemes). These Schemes were voted in favour of and we were voted in as directors by a majority of PS investors.

The Schemes were sanctioned by the High Court in January 2012 and the PS investors became debenture holders in Nova.

The aim of the Schemes was to secure properties linked to PS investors’ historical investments, fend off liquidations, manage underlying properties, obtain funding for value enhancement, growth and sustainability, and ultimately enable cash payment to the debenture holders.

Through the above, Nova Property Group was established in 2011 and I was appointed its CEO. Today, Nova consists of an independent group of companies, controlling assets comprising a balanced mix of commercial properties, both retail and office, and mixed-use residential developments throughout SA, worth more than R2.56 billion, providing comprehensive property management and land development.

As CEO, I decided a few years ago to take on the additional role of project development team leader of Nova’s residential and mixed-use property portfolio, wherein I, together with the professional team, oversee the process of developing and managing same.

Nova has an assortment of such projects, located throughout South Africa, all carefully prepared, consolidated, subdivided, zoned and in different stages of development. These range from residential full and sectional title units, retirement, frail care and medical facilities, to affordable housing and estate living. Many of these projects, all offering favourable returns on completion, are lined up and ready for development funding, either equity or debt.

Frontier Accounting and Secretarial Services

In 2011, I, together with handful of individuals, established Frontier, which I have headed up since.

Today, Frontier has evolved into an experienced accounting, finance, tax, administration, secretarial and communication services company. Frontier prides itself in being competitive, and pro-active in rendering services timeously and accurately.

It has been a privilege for me, given my finance, taxation and auditing background, to have seen first-hand how Frontier has grown to where it is today. Most significantly, how its employees have thrived. Frontier’s staff turnover ratio is incredibly low.

The above has been achieved through respectful leadership, something I learned over the years as I worked myself up through the corporate ranks in a very male dominated industry. Anchored therein, I developed one of my core attributes of leadership: to aspire to lead by respecting and valuing each employee.

It is imperative for any leader of a successful establishment to ensure employees are empowered through growth within their employment. Without thriving and loyal employees, an establishment cannot exist successfully.

I find the above criteria key attributes for anyone in a leadership position.

Through experience, I found that women in business have a natural ability to get on with things and in a most organized fashion. For this reason, I chose to build a team of women in the companies I head up, including executive and non-executive seats at the Board table. This strong female presence has benefitted the workplace environment.

Women have, however, family responsibilities and the corporate realm unfortunately does not always favour women.

As a woman and mother, I believe I am more attentive to the needs of employees and have always made the extra effort to find ways to create a more thriving environment for them. I appreciate that women, in particular, need to be empowered within the company.

It is key that a corporate culture must be established within a company, starting with its leadership, respecting, recognizing and supporting the needs of women in the workplace.

This is easily achieved. As an example, Frontier provides the following benefits to its employees:

  • In terms of Section 10(1) (q) of the Income Tax Act, Frontier provides bona fide scholarships or bursaries to employees and their relatives to study at a recognized educational or research institution.
  • Frontier assists professional employees with their continuing professional development, to not only shape their strategic approach in their career but also to ensure that standards across Frontier are high and consistent, promoting a greater workforce engagement and enhancing employee commitment to job roles.
  • Frontier further assists employees with study loans and training that can further their career within the company.

In closing

The past nine years have most certainly been the most challenging of my career. Such a large restructuring, by its mere nature and given its history, brings with it much criticism and negativity, further fuelled by unjust negative and even incorrect media reporting, unfortunately resulting in many funding lines and equity partnerships not coming to fruition.

Nonetheless, Nova has steered a steadfast course and through perseverance has achieved:

  • successfully capital repayment to many debenture holders
  • property value enhancement of many of its properties for future capital repayments to debenture holders

As Nova’s CEO, together with my Board, our incredibly dedicated employees, committed professional teams, business associates, partners and supportive stakeholders, we know the potential Nova has in making this a success story. We are committed in continuing to build on the positives achieved and are confident that the role players, both in the financial sector and the property sector, locally and abroad, will eventually join forces with Nova and its cause and invest in Nova, to further unlock value for both stakeholders and debenture holders of Nova.

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