GBCSA / Member story / Meet the Members: In conversation with Michele Bekkens

Meet the Members: In conversation with Michele Bekkens

March 30, 2021

Michele Bekkens is the Head of Commercial Real Estate Finance at Sanlam Investments and a Director on our GBCSA Board. She answered our questions to give us a better idea of her work, the environment and what inspires her.

As a qualified CA(SA) with a H.Dip Tax, Michele has had extensive funding experience in the real estate sector, both from a debt and an equity perspective. She has long standing relationships with listed and unlisted stakeholders within the real estate sector and maintains relationships with providers of funding. She is passionate about elevating the importance of non-financial considerations when making investment decisions.

1. Where do you go for inspiration?

I enjoy reading the Daily Maverick publication which reports local and international news. I find it helps put events into perspective as it’s so easy to remain focused in your circle of influence only. My happy place is at the sea.

2. What is the best part of your work day?

The best part of my day is collaborating with the wider team to find a solution to a problem. The diversification of the team brings new ideas to the fore. I am a social person and work at my best with others.

3. What achievement are you most proud of?

I am most proud of my educational achievements. I come from a humble background and am the only one in the family with a university degree and a professional qualification. It has enabled me to be exposed to a wide variety of people and issues. My professional qualification has also enabled me to support my parents and my own family, giving my daughter the opportunity to continue her studies in the field of psychology.

4. What do you think is the most urgent global environmental challenge facing us?

My biggest concern is over the availability of natural water sources.  As a race we are pretty good at consuming and destroying the environment but we can’t live without water. A solution to polluted fresh water would be my biggest wish.

5. What do you feel is the biggest issue in the green building industry that we have to overcome, and any ideas on where to start in tackling it?

Whilst the property industry understands and respects the importance of green buildings and their impact on sustainability and return on investment, I feel that the financial sector has not yet recognised this significance. In order to support green buildings the investment community needs to weigh financial decisions in favour of this type of investment. The sector is being dragged along as property owners are investing in green buildings but a system of quantifying ESG factors should be implemented to further stimulate these initiatives.

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