WHAT DOES THE CERTIFICATE FOR MALL MANAGEMENT INVOLVE?
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.