Graceful, beautiful and kind. Determined, decisive and super smart. CEO of Liberty Two Degrees, Amelia Beattie, is a force in South African real estate and a pioneer for women in the industry.
We’ve had the privilege of asking her 5 questions.
You have broken through so many barriers throughout your career, with the most recent vocation being CEO of Liberty Two Degrees. Around 5% of CEO’s in South Africa are women and the number is even less in listed companies. What are the major misconceptions that you have faced in terms of being a woman at the top in this industry and could you share some golden nuggets of advice on how they are overcome?
“The 3 C’s come to mind….
Celebrate – I think the most important piece of advice is that we have to celebrate how far women have come over the last decade rather than stare ourselves blind into how few women have made it to the top. There are so many examples of women who achieved so much, and it is worth focusing on that and celebrating those achievements.
Conflicts – Over our careers, we are often told that most women have a stronger sense of family loyalty than men and women have more family / work conflicts that could prevent them from getting their jobs done. Isn’t that a wonderful conflict to have? It provides us with the opportunity to make a difference, not only in the workplace, but also at home. There is simply no short cut – you have to work very, very hard. Use every opportunity to make sure that you know what you are talking about, that you learn as much as you can, and that you put a support structure in place that allows you be a little more flexible. We can’t be successful at all costs – we have a duty to our families first, and then to our jobs – but, it certainly doesn’t mean that you can’t do both.
Care – Many believe that for a woman to get ahead in her career or be an effective leader she has to be unemotional and uncaring. On the contrary, many successful women often know that nurturing and cultivating the talent in their team brings out the best from their people – men and women. Women often bear in mind that we work with people’s hearts and minds so both have to be taken care of. Women value and appreciate feedback from others which also helps in creating fruitful and caring relationships. My purpose is to care for people in a way that they grow – at home, and at work. And it works….“
Liberty Two Degrees was successfully launched and listed with a collection of impressive assets. What makes the listing and the timing thereof so significant?
“Liberty Two Degrees holds some of South Africa’s most iconic assets. It has a proud heritage of many years being the darling of South African retail properties. What you see is what you get in Liberty Two Degrees – it is the purest form of rental income that flows through to our investors.
Before we listed, you could not get access to prime assets like Sandton City, Nelson Mandela Square and Eastgate shopping centre through a listed instrument – that is what made our listing significant, the fact that anybody can now own a piece of the places where they love to shop.
We have an extraordinary team of people that makes Liberty Two Degrees an incredible place to work, a team that truly believes we are here to “Invest to inspire”.“
You seem to seamlessly accomplish in a day, ten times the amount of tasks others complete. What are 4 ingredients of your secret recipe?
“Focus – some time ago, I decided to focus rather than multi-task. If I focus on one thing, finish it; then getting the next thing done goes much quicker. If you do many things at the same time, you never finish anything properly.
Order – some call it OCD, I call it order. I like the things around me to be in order – my house is always tidied up, things are packed away in a place where I can find them. My desk does not have paper – I try to work in a paperless environment and have a very good electronic filing system that serves me well. It takes time to set up and get it all done – but once done; it makes life so much easier.
Swallow the bitter pill first – First thing in the morning, I prioritise the things that I don’t like doing. My mind is still fresh, and once I’ve done those things, I can focus on the things that I like doing. It is really a very simple, but smart tool.
90 | 90 | 1 – I learnt about this tool on a leadership course that I was on a long time ago. It is my most powerful way of getting things done. For 90 days, I spend 90 minutes each day on the 1 thing that will make the biggest difference in what I am busy with – it’s a discipline that needs practise, but it yields results every time.“
The latest Harvard Business Review features 4 behaviours that set successful CEO’s apart. What would be the 4 behaviours you highly regard?
“Don’t settle for anything but the best. Being able to attract the right talent and to build a resilient and sustainable organisation for the future means that you must never settle for anything but the best when choosing your people. What works today might not work tomorrow and the same skills that maintain a business can’t grow a business, so leaders have to encourage and ensure diversity of skills across all business cycles in order to remain successful. If you build a team, make sure that you have the right people with the right attitude and people that are better skilled in what they do than you are. The team has to have unique skills that one can build on and grow the organisation.
Manage your stakeholders. A leader who understands all their stakeholders and makes it their first priority to manage stakeholders in an exemplary manner will find so much value in that. Stakeholders are not one-dimensional – look all around you and identify your stakeholders.
Jack Welch wrote this quote that I believe is one of the best behaviours that set people apart. “In real life, strategy is actually very straightforward. You pick a general direction and implement like hell.” Execution is implementation of strategy, and without that strategy remains a board paper or a PowerPoint presentation. I believe that good execution brings results.
Care for your people, your business and the environment that you operate in. Business can’t be about making profit at all costs. We have a duty to making a difference in the lives of people and the communities in which we operate. I admire that, and strive to be like that!
If you could give 5 pieces of advice to your 20-year old self, what would it be?
“We have two daughters in their early twenties, and this is advice I give to them too:
Travel as much as you can – once a year, go to place a where you have never been before. I didn’t do enough of that!
Save first, and then spend what you have left over. It’s hard when you are young, but it is worth it.
Follow your dreams and don’t settle for second best, ever!
Everything is relative – what you think is the end of the world today, becomes insignificant tomorrow; and most importantly….
Laugh more, and have more fun!”
Amelia was stunningly photographed by Sinead Brook Photography
Copyright © 2017 by Natalie du Preez.
This interview was conducted and authored by Natalie du Preez and is original content, which is property of the author, all rights reserved. This article or any portion thereof may not be copied, shared or reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the owner.