As one of the foremost black leaders in SA’s listed property sector, Petersen, CEO of Dipula Property Fund, has certainly made his mark in the industry. Dipula started off as an unlisted fund in 2006, and following a merger with Mergence Property Fund in 2011, it was listed on the JSE with a portfolio value of about R1,4 billion.

Under Petersen’s leadership, the company has since grown its diversified property portfolio beyond the R7 billion mark, and just last month, Dipula announced major property acquisitions, which will take its value to R8,5 billion.

Petersen is the chairman of the influential SA Real Estate Investment Trusts (SAREIT) Association, which represents the interests of the country’s burgeoning listed property sector. “I started my career as an accountant for a top accounting firm, then went into banking,” he says. “Property is hard work and you need to be passionate about it and have extensive networks with all the roleplayers. You also need the ability to mix bricks and mortar with good finance skills to excel in the property game.”

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On transformation in the sector, Petersen believes the backbone to transformation is education, exposure and upskilling people. “Once people are equipped with skills and exposure, they will become globally competitive and we will achieve true transformation,” he says.

Petersen has set his sights on doubling the size of Dipula over the next few years. “We have a great plan in place to execute this mission in 2018 and beyond. I have an excellent team around me and our growth will come from a combination of acquisitions and possible corporate action,” he says.

Petersen says entrepreneurs should never use the word “impossible. “My advice to emerging property professionals and entrepreneurs is to do something you are passionate about. You will probably fail many times before you succeed, but embedded within each failure is a lesson that will propel you to new heights.”

He says the property industry needs to improve its approach to sustainability in terms of operating in a more environmentally friendly manner. “We need better effeciency when it comes to water and electricity consumption, for example. We also need to invest in a way that makes a positive impact on the communities in which our properties are located.”

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