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PROFILE

SAIBPP: What’s your final research on? NM: I’m doing a comparative analysis between green buildings and conventional buildings, whether or not the move towards green building is worth it and deserving of all of the hype. SAIBPP: What have you concluded in your research? NM: What I have found is that it’s important to move towards green building, particularly the actual construction phase of buildings. Conventional buildings waste a lot of resources in terms of water and other materials that are put into them. It’s not right to take away from the Earth. We don’t want to destroy the environment. Green building practices ensure the sustainability of the planet.

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PROFILE

I decided to apply for jobs as soon as possible rather than wait until later in the year. So, when the Nedbank advertisement came out I jumped. The interview process was very smooth. Out of about 2 400 people they chose 30 and I’m one of them. SAIBPP: What’s going to be your title in the new job? NM: I’m interning. I’m going into the graduate recruitment programme. It’ll last for two years. Afterwards, I’ll work for the bank for two years.

SAIBPP: Will this be your chief focus when you eventually get into the property field? NM: I think so. I’d like to focus on this area. Funny enough, next year when I go to work I’ll be based at Nedbank Menlyn Maine, which is being turned into a sustainable city; I think it’s one of the 40 sustainable cities in the world. My focus is going to be more towards sustainable development and all of that.

SAIBPP: At SAIBPP’s gala dinner, a day before this year’s annual convention, you told a touching story about how you barely got into Wits … NM: Initially when I applied at Wits, we thought I had secured funding from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme. But we later learned otherwise. I had already decided to do property studies but my parents didn’t have money to pay for my studies; my dad was unemployed and my mom couldn’t pay on her own. So, we got a student loan but it wasn’t going to start paying until about mid-February and I needed money to get into residence as well as funds to pay for my tuition. For this to happen you need to register beforehand and I needed R30 000 to do so.

SAIBPP: How did you land your prospective job? Were you head hunted? NM: I applied. At the beginning of 2016 I was very focused.

On the day when I was supposed to go to Wits my mom and I checked her bank account and there was no money for registration. It was 4am when we checked. Mom had extended her credit card limit with

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Nedbank and was waiting for these funds to appear in her account. Although we didn’t have the funds, we decided to go to Wits anyway, hoping that when we got there the money would have reflected in her account. We drove from my home in Pietermaritzburg to Johannesburg and got to Wits at about 10am. Still there had been no notification on my mom’s phone. We were deeply worried. But when she swiped her card – God being the gracious God that He is – the transaction went through. That day I was able to pay for my tuition and accommodation. SAIBPP: When did the ParetoSAIBPP funding kick in then? NM: The Pareto-SAIBPP bursary happened later in the year. Around March or April I saw a poster on a board at the School of Construction, Economics and Management, where our BSc programme was based. Although the deadline for application had come and gone, I still applied anyway. I took a chance and I was lucky. The process of dealing with Pareto began then. I went to about three different interviews before I was chosen together with a fellow student Thuto Mokoena. The Pareto and SAIBPP guys were really, really nice and supportive. They were so generous they even gave my mom funds to pay back the student loan she had taken for me. SAIBPP: So you could be covered fully by the scholarship? NM: Yes.

SAIBPP: Which residence were you at? NM: I stayed at Jubilee Hall, right on campus. It was a convenient location. I literally went from my room downstairs for breakfast and then walked to campus for lectures. SAIBPP: That must have taken away the anxiety and stress of worrying about living on campus. NM: True. Basically, I had nothing to worry about except studying and excelling at my studies. Unlike some of my peers, I didn’t have to worry about how to get home and what to eat everyday. Instead I was able to concentrate on what was important − doing well in my studies. SAIBPP: So, did you find yourself literally living at the library? NM: Yeah. I used to study so much. I would go to the library straight after supper until about 3am. I’d then walk back to my residence. I was such a nerd. By nature I’m a bookworm. Fortunately, my lectures used to start at 10am every day. That enabled me to study until late, wake up late in the morning – around 8.30am – and rush to the dining hall to get breakfast before it ended at 9am and then be at class by 10am. Honestly, I had no worries about anything. I simply focused on my studies. SAIBPP: How is your mom feeling about your remarkable academic progress? NM: My mom is so excited and

happy for me. Because I’m such a diligent student, I make her proud. She’s proud of the fact that I passed. She’s proud of the fact that I made it into Golden Key International Honour Society for high-achieving individuals in academia and other fields. She’s proud of the fact that I got a job before I finished my studies, meaning that after graduation I’m not going to sit around at home with nothing to do; instead I will go straight into the working world. She’s very happy. SAIBPP: How much was the Pareto-SAIBPP funding annually? NM: They gave Wits R500 000 to cover me from my first year until my fourth year. This funding covered tuition, accommodation and a stipend for books every semester. SAIBPP: Did they pay upfront? NM: Yes, they gave the university the funds upfront. At the beginning of every year I’d go to school and say, “Hey guys, I’ve registered”, and everything would be paid for. The varsity knew that I was a student and knew that it had my funds and made sure that my costs were paid up for me. SAIBPP: Would you say your life is an example of what corporates can do to turn the lives of students who are academically deserving but in need of financial assistance? NM: I think with the #FeesMustFall movement right now, more and

more people are starting to realise just how important it is to fund the dreams and studies of a young black person such as myself. We have so many dreams. We have so many capabilities. Now and again we need a helping hand from someone to say, “Hey, listen we see you, let’s help you.” Had Pareto and SAIBPP not helped for me, I would not have been able to continue with my studies. I’m now one of the top students in my school. I’m going to be working for one of the biggest banks that is also one of the key players in property financing in South Africa. None of this would have been possible without Pareto and SAIBPP. Corporates don’t realise the impact they have on our lives. The more they fund us the more we would be able to transform this industry and other industries – as young black graduates. SAIBPP: Would you now join SAIBPP as a member? NM: Definitely. Right now I’m working with a few friends on consolidating a SAIBPP student chapter that has been set up at Wits University. I’ll definitely be joining SAIBPP as a full member this year. SAIBPP: And maybe one day become president of the organisation? NM: Yes, for sure. I have had so many great examples. I’d like to emulate people like Nkuli Bogopa and many, many others within SAIBPP.

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INTERVIEW

SAIBPP: Why did it take 22 years into democracy for the MBSA to appoint a black president? Isn’t your appointment long overdue? BS: I think it’s a combination of factors. It’s a result of historical and systematic exclusion of black people from obtaining technical qualifications in building trades and exclusion from gaining entry into academic programmes at university. Consequently, black people were robbed of a chance to meaningfully participate in industry bodies such as the MBSA and the few who attempted to get in often felt unwelcome and alienated due to a lack of social capital and protection of privilege by the incumbents.

not yet reached critical mass. It is, therefore, incumbent on those of us who have made it to broaden the staircase, as it were, and not pull up the drawbridge.

Another reason is the paucity of black graduate professionals who are willing to become “industry activists” and catalysts for change. Thirdly, the less-thanwelcoming atmosphere in “old boys clubs” has not helped either. All these barriers need to be broken down.

SAIBPP: For how long will you serve as MBSA president and what will your role be? BS: The MBSA Constitution stipulates a maximum of two 12-month terms. My primary role as president is to represent the organisation in terms of its stated purpose, vision and mission. My chosen focus areas are transformation, skills development as well as SMME development. For example, I authored the MBSA Transformation Declaration that was unanimously accepted by the board and signed at our 2016 Congress in Durban. This document establishes the blueprint and basis of our transformation efforts hopefully beyond my

Yes, the appointment of any black person by such an organisation that has been in existence for so long is long overdue. It’s a very late start but it is the beginning and, hopefully, the trend will be supported and sustained as evidenced by the changing demography of built environment graduates, among other indicators, but this change has

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SAIBPP: On a personal level, were you surprised at all that you were appointed president? BS: Yes I was, primarily because I only went back to mainstream construction management in 2012 when I moved from Johannesburg to Cape Town to join NMC Construction after spending 12 years before that as a Construction Project Management Consultant with development and engineering consultants as well as Focus Project Management.

tenure. MBSA is a federation. I interact with member associations through the MBSA Board, the MBSA executive committee, our executive director as well as the respective provincial presidents and their executive directors. SAIBPP: What legacy do you wish to leave behind as MBSA president? BS: I wish to leave behind a legacy of black excellence and meaningful contribution to the growth, development and sustainability of the building industry. I hope my appointment will also serve as an inspiration to other aspirant black students, graduates, professionals and youngsters in all South Africa’s

“As built environment professionals, we have a civic or national duty to transform the industry

townships and villages. I hope my achievement will show that it is possible for them to make it the field of construction management; that they have to dream big, believe in themselves, be resilient, work hard, be dedicated, and surround themselves with people who affirm and validate them irrespective of their socio-economic profile or circumstances. SAIBPP: How can MBSA ensure that more black operators and professionals thrive in the construction management field? BS: MBSA needs to do more, especially through its provincial affiliates, to actively and deliberately promote the integration and mainstreaming of smaller emerging contractors into the entire construction economy supply and value chain for shared growth and prosperity that can be gauged by their progression through the Construction Industry Development Board’s Contractor Grading System, for example. This must not just be driven by perfunctory compliance with prevailing legislation and regulations but by a genuine commitment to real and meaningful transformation, which is about the creation of a new and egalitarian society. As built environment professionals, we have a civic or national duty to transform

the industry. We must become change agents and do more to support them through specific and targeted interventions and programmes for coaching, mentoring as well as skills transfer to build their capacity to enhance their prospects for success, make them more competitive, sustainable and profitable. This has a potential to contribute to job creation, poverty alleviation and reduce inequality through access to opportunities for long-term inter-generational wealth creation, prosperity, nation-building and social cohesion. There are still endemic issues of alienation, hostile environments, racial and gender discrimination. There is also a lack of coaching, mentoring, career development and advancement opportunities. As a result, construction management graduates become disillusioned and subsequently migrate to other careers, which is a loss for our industry. For example, it’s still common for black graduates to be overlooked, told they are too ambitious or impatient or not ready for promotion or to be fast-tracked through interventions such as graduate and leadership development programmes. Only when they tender resignations are they then informed of the big plans in store to develop and promote them to positions of significant responsibility.

I remain a firm believer that equal treatment of unequal people is unequal. SAIBPP: What role can formations such as SAIBPP play within MBSA? How do you plan to work with such industry bodies? BS: I think such bodies must continue to advocate for change and develop sufficient internal capacity to influence policymakers and policy trajectory in collaborative, coherent, co-ordinated and mutually reinforcing partnerships. SAIBPP: Which leader – in any field – do you look up to for inspiration and why him or her? BS: Businessmen Bonang Mohale and Jabu Mabuza – although they do not know how much they positively influenced me as a youngster growing up in Daveyton, east of Johannesburg. Mohale lived a few houses away from our home. Mabuza often visited my father, I guess because at the time my dad was a local bank manager. Above all, I continue to be inspired by my late father, Moses Simelane. To me all these men are visionaries, pioneers, trailblazers and torchbearers who represent black excellence and advancement with a social conscience.

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“Meaningful and sustainable transformation in the property industry will require a concerted and combined effort by all role players in the private and public sectors.. 62

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BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES IN BRIDGE CITY

PUSH FOR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

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A VISIONARY PUBLIC, PRIVATE SECTOR PARTNERSHIP

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A DEVELOPMENT MODEL TO EMULATE

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OPPORTUNITIES FOR PROPERTY DEVELOPERS AND PRACTITIONERS

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SAIBPP  

SAIBPP Magazine 2017

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