At the beginning of 2018, Rorisang joined Absa’s Commercial Property Finance division as Senior Legal Counsel, Vice President. She is a senior banking and finance attorney with over 11 years’ experience with prestigious international law firms in Cape Town, Johannesburg and New York. Rorisang was listed as one of 200 notable young South Africans by Mail and Guardian.
I had the privilege of asking her 5 Questions.
You recently hosted a very informative talk and panel discussion at a Women’s Property Network event and you previously held the position of Head Lecturer of Real Estate Law at Wits. Education seems to be a passion of yours. What are some of the knowledge-based opportunities you see in law firms which should be developed?
I am passionate about education and I thoroughly enjoyed training junior lawyers while I was still in practice. Law firms have not fully tapped into e-learning and I am of the opinion that there is a gap in the South African market to do so. To provide online learning tools for law firms to replace or supplement traditional training methods is a great opportunity to explore and implement.
Online learning has been used for a number of years in other industries for limited purposes such as onboarding of staff and compliance training, but it can be used for so much more. Training of junior lawyers is an integral part of developing the pipeline of lawyers. Law firms pay a high premium annually for missed billable hours of trainers and trainees alike.
Law firms in the UK and US have started adopting online learning and South African law firms should follow suit. The benefits of e-learning are endless, such as being cost effective, it’s on demand so it doesn’t disrupt lawyers’ busy schedules and lawyers can learn anytime and anywhere.
The talk you gave at the Women’s Property Network event was entitled “Digital disruption and the future of commercial real estate”. Could you share with us the main categories of digital disruption you believe should be addressed within the sector?
The key innovations that will affect the commercial real estate sector are the following:
Advanced robotics and manufacturing
The use of robots in previously labour intensive industries has reduced the need for human labour and will lead to the reconfiguration of industrial property, as the factory floor will have to be designed differently.
The rise of intelligent machines, which are capable of learning and evolving, will – amongst other things – affect real estate investing, development and management. Real estate investors, developers and managers will be able to use automated processes to control expenses, increase returns, manage risk and many more functions.
The widespread use and adoption of the internet, mobile connectivity, shopping online and social media has and will continue to fundamentally affect the office, residential and office sectors. Smaller and more agile work spaces are required for technologically savvy employees.
Estate agents and brokers are no longer the sole purveyors of property as the marketing of property is now being done online.
Technologies such as drones, 3D walk-throughs and valuation apps automate a lot of processes that were previously done by people.
The rise of online shopping will also have an effect on how retail spaces are designed.
The collaborative economy
Digital networks have also led to a collaborative economy, where consumers go to each other for what they need instead of to corporations. Alternatively, they pay for the use or access to goods or services instead of owning them.
Good examples of disruptors in this regard are Uber or AirBnB. Uber, for example, will affect how much parking space is required when developing a shopping centre. AirBnb affects the occupancy rates of hotels.
Another aspect of the collaborative economy is crowdfunding for real estate acquisitions. This will disrupt the banking and private equity sectors.
The law profession is one of the most studied fields in the world and even though many graduates go on to practice law in big law firms, there are many who enter the business world in varying positions. What would your advice be for young people who have stars in their eyes from watching Suits and The Fixer?
The practice of law is far removed from what you see on television! Although it is extremely interesting, intellectually rewarding and is often exciting, there is a lot of grueling hard work involved and the profession can be cut throat. You need to have a thick skin and a lot of tenacity to survive.
You have made great strides in your career thus far. Could you share 3 golden nuggets that worked for you of how to achieve success in career progression?
Emotional intelligence is more important than intellectual intelligence. You need to be someone people like working with and for. You also need to be able to play the game for your career to advance. The relationships you build or destroy will make or break your career.
Don’t eat lunch at your desk. Use your lunch hour to socialise with your colleagues and build those crucial networks. From the first day of your career, aim to build meaningful relationships within and outside of your organisation with people who will help build your career.
Pace and consistency are key. There is no point in working yourself to the bone in the first two years of your career to only burn out in the third year and quit. Adopt the tortoise mindset – slow and steady wins the race.
There is so much talk about the elusive balance in life and trying to be the best at everything we do. What are your secrets of making sure that your family, your career and your personal wellbeing are in a state of equilibrium?
One cannot have it all all the time. I have accepted that my life will never be in a constant state of equilibrium. Some weeks I am a great mother, wife and friend who is spiritually fulfilled, but I’m not shooting the lights out at work, my jeans start getting tight as I am not eating well and I am missing gym.
Other weeks I am a great employee and I look amazing because I live in the gym, but during those times I am may be a mediocre mom, wife or friend.
It is a constant juggling act and I take stock at the end of each month and each year to see how I can calibrate. This is vital in getting as close as possible to that elusive state of equilibrium.
Copyright © 2018 by Natalie du Preez.
This interview was conceptualised, 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.