Communicare doesn’t need just one month to celebrate its female employees! Celebrate with us as we feature our formidable women all year round! Kara Ascott, Leasing Manager gives us insight into her career journey.

How to lead from behind: Lessons in property management

Q Take us through your journey in real estate, how did it begin and how did you know this was to become your career?

Kara Ascott: Leasing Manager

A.   Years ago,  two partners I was in business with at the time started looking at alternative options to renting office space in Cape Town Central.  Rental offices in Cape Town CBD were exorbitant and traffic in and out of the city center was a nightmare during peak season! We formed a property holding company and purchased a commercial property in Pinelands Business Park through Divaris Property Brokers and moved our offices from Cape Town CBD to Pinelands.

A few years later, the partners came to a mutual decision to dissolve the business and the unit was once again sold through Divaris Property Brokers.  I was then approached by Divaris and asked if I would like to try out a career in commercial real estate.  At the time I thought they were crazy as I knew very little about commercial property, but, after some thought and much convincing, I agreed.

I spent three years with the Divaris family “learning the ropes” of commercial property and loved every minute of it! An opportunity later opened up with JHI (now Excellerate JHI), where I managed to gain experience in facilities management (Old Mutual portfolio) and leasing (Sanlam, Capital, Nordic, Gemgrow, and Subrolinx portfolios).

Q.   What are the biggest misconceptions about a career in property management and real estate?

A.   That it is an easy job with big returns. Nothing could be further from the truth! One has to have an absolute passion for this industry to feel successful.

Q.   What has been your biggest success in property management?

A.    Working on the Sanlam head office portfolio. During my time working on this portfolio, we managed to increase revenue substantially, whilst maintaining a good relationships with the tenants.

Q.   You appreciate leading from behind, why would you say this is an important leadership style?

A.   It allows everybody to gain confidence and develop their own leadership skills within a structured environment.

Q.   What­­ are key lessons have you learned over the years, that you are determined to impart to the next generation?

A.   Take advantage of every opportunity to learn and grow.

Understand that there are no shortcuts to the top, but the sky is the limit if you apply yourself.