In celebration of Women’s Month, the Association of South African Quantity Surveyors (ASAQS) has appointment Ms. Christelle Bown as its President. She is the second ever female president of the ASAQS, following Prof. Gaye le Roux, who was elected to this prestigious position in 2006.
Brown’s appointment was announced at the highly successful 2019 ASAQS conference themed Shift towards Opportunity, held at the Century City Conference Centre in Cape Town on the 1st August 2019 and attended by over 300 delegates.
Another passionate young lady, Nthabiseng Motlatle, recently joined the ASAQS Wits Student Chapter as Chairperson. “I think that there couldn’t be a better time for young women to be entering the Quantity Surveying profession than right now. We have more women, like the incoming president of ASAQS, taking up leadership positions than ever before so I am very proud to be a young woman in a position of leadership today. I take this role very seriously as I must ensure that I leave things a little bit better than before, for the next generation/s to come,” says Nthabiseng.
Sticking to the conference theme we asked these two ladies a few questions:
Christelle Bown – President ASAQS
Q: What is needed to shift a mindset from focusing on challenges to focusing on opportunities?
A: Different people need different things to cause a shift in mindset. Some need a traumatic personal event and for another a spoken word may suffice. For me, personally, during our recent ASAQS Conference in Cape Town, I realised I must shift my attitude to not only focus on the opportunities but first identify the opportunity(s) in every challenge I may face, daily.
Q: In your opinion, which shifts are necessary in the Quantity Surveying profession to keep it relevant in the long term?
A: If we can all shift our mindset to focus on the opportunities within the challenges, we stay relevant. That said, if I look back on Quantity Surveying from the days when I started out as a Candidate QS to today, the QS profession has made major shifts despite QS’s being labelled as ‘set in our ways’, ‘conservative’, ‘reluctant to embrace changes to procedures which have worked for us for a long time’. We have made shifts and will continue to shift towards opportunities.
Q: If you had the authority to shift one piece of legislation or regulation related to the Quantity Surveyor’s role in the built environment, what would it be?
A: Do I only get to change one? I will then choose something which may not mean a higher income stream but rather fulfilling a need I believe is out there and feel rather passionate about. I would like to make it mandatory or at least very strongly advised, for the average person who wants to build and/or alter their own residence to appoint a QS. Like they must appoint an Architect to get the plans approved and an Engineer to sign off on the structure, they need a Quantity Surveyor to protect their financial interests.
Q: What shift will you be working towards during your term as ASAQS president?
A: Even better communication with our ASAQS members. There are so many valuable and exciting things currently happening at Board level and our members deserve to know and understand more about exactly what the ASAQS is doing for the profession. I get the comment/question “So, why must I be a member of the ASAQS? What are they actually doing for me?” far too often and want to change this.
Nthabiseng Motlatle, ASAQS Wits Student Chapter Chairperson
Q: In your experience, what is the benefit of shifting from an instant gratification mindset to a longer-term focus?
A: For me, everything is about setting goals for yourself and achieving them, with each goal better than the last. The student chapter has always been centered around catering for student members’ academic and professional needs. When we sit down at the beginning of every year to lay down a plan of action for the chapter, it is always with this in mind. It is absolutely rewarding when someone comes up to us at the end if an event and thanks us for the positive message or guidance we have brought into their life and it is for this exact reason that the chapter was formed. It is this gratification that fuels us to provide better services in future and one of the reasons this student chapter has become so successful in a short period of time and is gaining respect in the built environment circles.
Q: What positive shifts have you seen in your own life due to your active involvement as an ASAQS member?
A: Before I joined the ASAQS, I was very uncertain about my future in the built environment. I almost missed out on an opportunity to be part of this incredible profession because of my lack of knowledge. When I started attending the events hosted by the Wits student chapter in 2016, my view on this profession changed and started taking an interest in it. I would do research about the profession and job shadowed quantity surveyors several times to help me make an informed decision for my Honours year application. Becoming a member and ultimately, part of the executive committee, has helped sharpen my communication skills, meet and exchange contact details with successful industry giants and has grown my leadership skills drastically. I work for one of the best global infrastructure companies in the world and I owe most of this success to the ASAQS.
Q: Did you have to make any mindset and habit shifts to enable you to lead the ASAQS Wits Student Chapter?
A: I was very nervous when I assumed the position of chairperson and I think this comes with any type of shift in your life in which you cannot be fully prepared. My greatest support has been the committees in the Wits student chapter. My type of leadership ensures that everyone that is part of the committee expresses themselves and I ensure that with every decision taken, I have included both the sub and executive committees in that decision making process and I think this has been the winning formula for the chapter thus far.