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The pro­fes­sional man­age­ment of com­mer­cial prop­erty is a rel­a­tively new phe­nom­e­non in South Africa and, un­til re­cently, most ma­jor prop­erty de­vel­op­ers man­aged their own prop­er­ties.

But this trend is be­gin­ning to change and is cre­at­ing ex­cit­ing new ca­reer op­por­tu­ni­ties, says Pro­fes­sor Chris Cloete of the depart­ment of con­struc­tion eco­nom­ics at the Univer­sity of Pre­to­ria.

Cloete is the course leader of a cer­tifi­cate in shop­ping cen­tre man­age­ment.

It has been of­fered by the Univer­sity of Pre­to­ria with the SA Coun­cil of Shop­ping Cen­tres for the past 22 years.

The cer­tifi­cate has be­come the lead­ing train­ing in­ter­ven­tion for any­one con­sid­er­ing a ca­reer in the shop­ping cen­tre in­dus­try, and is pre­sented through Con­tin­u­ing Ed­u­ca­tion at the Univer­sity of Pre­to­ria.

Cloete says there is a great de­mand for prop­erly trained mall man­agers in South Africa to man­age the grow­ing num­ber of shop­ping cen­tres in the coun­try.

“A good man­ager can ne­go­ti­ate a very com­pet­i­tive com­pen­sa­tion pack­age and the best are even in de­mand in­ter­na­tion­ally,” says Cloete.

He says prop­erty man­age­ment is in­creas­ingly be­ing out­sourced to qual­i­fied prop­erty man­agers be­cause it is not a core in­dus­try for most prop­erty de­vel­op­ers.

“On the other hand, spe­cial­ist man­agers keep abreast of the latest trends in shop­ping cen­tre man­age­ment.

“Be­cause they of­ten man­age a num­ber of build­ings, they de­velop more flex­i­ble but more ef­fec­tive man­age­ment sys­tems to the ben­e­fit of the own­ers of the build­ings,” he adds.

The man­age­ment of a prop­erty is a com­plex chal­lenge.

A shop­ping cen­tre man­ager must be skilled in as­pects such as leas­ing, lease ad­min­is­tra­tion, risk man­age­ment, main­te­nance of a build­ing, man­age­ment of in­come and ex­pen­di­ture, how to pre­pare and man­age a bud­get, and how to mar­ket the mall.

Given the di­verse skills and qual­i­ties a shop­ping cen­tre man­ager must have, a good ter­tiary qual­i­fi­ca­tion in prop­erty stud­ies is the place to start if one is con­sid­er­ing a ca­reer in shop­ping cen­tre man­age­ment, says Cloete.

“De­gree cour­ses are of­fered at var­i­ous South African univer­si­ties, in­clud­ing the Univer­sity of Pre­to­ria. The course is a full-time, five-day pro­gramme con­sist­ing of var­i­ous mod­ules and a group pro­ject.

The mod­ules cover the whole range of skills re­quired for the man­age­ment of shop­ping cen­tres.

Be­fore the course starts, del­e­gates are ex­pected to study the course ma­te­rial.

A text­book, Shop­ping Cen­tre Man­age­ment in South Africa, has been spe­cially writ­ten for this pur­pose, and the fifth edi­tion is be­ing writ­ten at the mo­ment.

Del­e­gates on the course will write an hour­long exam at the end of each day and sub­mit a group anal­y­sis of an ex­ist­ing shop­ping cen­tre.

Cer­tifi­cates will be awarded to del­e­gates who ob­tain a pass mark in the ex­am­i­na­tion and the group pro­ject.

More than 1 000 del­e­gates have so far suc­cess­fully com­pleted the course.

Shop­ping cen­tres that have been an­a­lysed as part of the pro­ject com­po­nent in­clude Hyde Park Cor­ner, North­gate, Men­lyn Park, Kolon­nade, Brook­lyn Mall and Mamelodi Cross­ing.

This year’s course, which is of­fered from Septem­ber 6, prom­ises to live up to its good rep­u­ta­tion.

An im­pres­sive group of lec­tur­ers will con­trib­ute and make the course an in­valu­able ex­pe­ri­ence.

The feed­back from stu­dents in­di­cates that, in gen­eral, the course is de­mand­ing and that they have found it ex­haust­ing – but it is also an ex­cit­ing op­por­tu­nity.

Most stu­dents saw the course as a won­der­ful growth op­por­tu­nity that changed the way they viewed them­selves and their fu­ture ca­reers.

“De­grees in com­merce, ac­count­ing, law or con­struc­tion-re­lated dis­ci­plines are also use­ful, es­pe­cially if they are backed by a master’s de­gree in prop­erty stud­ies, as is of­fered by the Univer­sity of Pre­to­ria.”

In South Africa, more than 1 000 del­e­gates have suc­cess­fully com­pleted the cer­tifi­cate in shop­ping cen­tre man­age­ment since 1993.

The syl­labus is struc­tured in line with the Bri­tish Coun­cil of Shop­ping Cen­tres, as well as the In­ter­na­tional Coun­cil of Shop­ping Cen­ters.

How­ever, it has been adapted for the unique con­di­tions of the South African re­tail en­vi­ron­ment.

Many of the lead­ing names in the in­dus­try have com­pleted the course.

Of these, many have fol­lowed up the course with an ad­vanced cer­tifi­cate in shop­ping cen­tre lead­er­ship.

Cloete says del­e­gates come from through­out South Africa and even from Botswana, Namibia, Malawi, Zim­babwe, Nige­ria, Zam­bia, Kenya, Mau­ri­tius and Egypt.

Shop­ping cen­tres have taken over the role of the mar­ket square of ear­lier days and are mag­nets for so­cial in­ter­ac­tion, he adds.

As such, it is very im­por­tant for the own­ers of these cen­tres to pro­tect their com­mer­cial value.

“Shop­ping cen­tre man­agers man­age mul­ti­mil­lion-rand as­sets in an in­creas­ingly chal­leng­ing en­vi­ron­ment.

“Good man­agers can sig­nif­i­cantly in­crease the value of the shop­ping cen­tres un­der their man­age­ment,” says Cloete.

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