23 MAR 2022
Mercy is Director and Head of Valuation & Property Consultancy Services, CPF Financial Services Limited. She has a great passion for both valuation and strategic consulting and has been fortunate to combine these passions in her 12-year career, working on many exciting mandates. For our Spotlight series, we asked her to answer a few questions for us.
Mercy, tell us something about your professional career so far
I am lucky to have worked for one of the largest mortgage lending institutions in Kenya as the senior valuer and currently a director with the property arm of the County Pension Fund - the largest pension administration company in Kenya overseeing the management of pension funds for all the county governments. Being appointed as a member of Kenya’s affordable housing taskforce to serve in the committee that facilitated the first affordable housing conference in Kenya was a great honour. I was also in the taskforce that tabled a proposal, adopted in law, to allow pensioners access a portion of their pension contributions to purchase a home before retirement. A change in the law, that brought a smile to many employees who could only afford to buy a home upon retirement.
What attracted you to surveying/built environment as an industry to work in?
The real estate industry has fascinated me since I was young. I just didn’t know which field to branch into, but my first inspections and client meetings confirmed that I had selected the right undergraduate course and later went on to pursue a full time RICS accredited Masters course (MSc. Real Estate) in the UK. I am grateful for having chosen a profession that is so fulfilling and that taps into my passion. Engaging with clients to discuss their real estate objectives and goals and being able to offer solutions that align with their business strategy to unlock value and optimize asset performance is a job that I truly enjoy.
How do you make an impact in your daily work?
I enjoy creating a thriving environment for teams to reach their highest performance. I have an amazing valuation and consultancy team. I am currently working on several exciting projects including project conceptualization and financial appraisals for various affordable housing schemes and an iconic mixed-use development. I am the principal liaison officer with the national and county governments on real estate matters, and therefore interact with the State Department of Housing and Governors on affordable housing initiatives. One of the key challenges is when projects delay taking off as planned due to unavoidable circumstances or when clients have strong opinions on their property values which sometimes require one on one meetings to explain the valuation methodology and the input assumptions adopted.
You were one of the nominees for the Kenya Women in Real Estate (WIRE) Legends and Leaders Awards in 2021. Have you seen positive changes in terms of women's representation in the industry over the past years?
It was humbling and an honour to be nominated alongside other great women leaders in the built environment. There has been a slow but positive change in terms of women leadership representation. It is encouraging to see an increase in women board representation at international public listed companies like the FTSE 100 which now stands at about 40% compared with 12.5% 10 years ago. Noting the under-representation of women CEOs in global leading real estate firms that have set up in Kenya, there is still more to be done to promote gender equity and create an environment that allows women to thrive and reach their full potential at senior level.
What more can be done to create a diverse and inclusive profession?
Organisations should be deliberate in embracing diversity and inclusion by being intentional when onboarding employees and put in place measures to ensure that people feel fulfilled and included within the organisation e.g., through conducting anonymous surveys that measure the level of diversity in the workforce. This will attract and retain great talent. RICS’ efforts in tackling this issue have been commendable. Professional bodies and governments should actively promote diversity and inclusion.
What is your advice to the next generation of (female) surveyors?
I believe the future is bright for female surveyors. I am a true believer in the importance of mentoring. Find a mentor! The surveying profession is very broad. Attend networking forums that will expose you to the industry and build relationships. Interacting with professionals in the industry will allow you to understand the various disciplines and make it easy for you to select your preferred pathway. Focus on building your skills, experience, and level of competence. Strive to be exceptional, be curious, learn every detail, don’t be afraid to make mistakes, and be prepared to go beyond and supercharge that skillset!