Thanks to her strong work ethic and determination, Balfour’s already shattering the glass ceiling in the property sector. Her appointment as CEO in July 2017 makes her first black female CEO of a listed property fund in SA.
“The significance of my appointment goes far beyond my industry,” she says. “The more barriers we break down as black women, the more we remind each other of our resilience and capabilities. Meaningful representation is important because having black people in key decision-making roles is critical in a sector that still has a way to go in terms of transformation. It also provides role models for aspiring professionals, so I don’t take this position lightly.”
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Balfour began her career in 2005 at Standard Bank Property Finance, before moving to Investec Property Investments, where she spent four years. After a stint as a Sales Manager at Investec Asset Management, she was appointed a Non-Executive Independent Director on the Texton board in 2014.
“My exposure throughout my career to commercial property finance, property development and asset management has given me the fundamental understanding to oversee operations at Texton. I believe my success largely boils down to my passion for property, my willingness to learn and good mentors at different levels of my career,” she says.
She believes the most important lesson she’s learnt is that relationships are critical to business success, so it’s important to invest in them.
“You can’t know everything, so being able to leverage the skills sets of key people around you can only benefit you. It’s also important to be decisive and deliberate in what you do.”
Looking ahead, Balfour says the sector’s likely to face some headwinds due to the economic landscape, pressure on local property fundamentals and the loss of investor confidence, evidenced from SA’s 2017 economy rating downgrades.
The upside is that there’s been concerted effort by a few listed property companies to be included in local and global indices through strategic acquisitions, while the earnings growth for the sector remains buoyant, at around 6-10%.
To other women looking to excel in their respective sectors, she advises: “Do everything you do with integrity. Work smart and hard!”