With bright, green eyes and a can-do attitude, Leigh arrived for her interview at Rabie in August 1991. Thirty years later, it’s those same bright eyes – now with a lot of wisdom behind them – and attitude that has secured Leigh in her position at the head of a successful property management company.
“I will always remember the day Leigh arrived for her interview.” recalls John Chapman, Director at Rabie. “She looked very neat in a pencil skirt and blazer, but it was her personality that sold it for us. We knew from the start that she was different, and it became apparent when she was able to defuse difficult clients and situations with her unique humour and easy-going nature. Her confidence was evident from the beginning and has rewarded her well throughout the years.”
Leigh was born in Bloemfontein, and her parents relocated to Cape Town when she was a baby. At eight years old they moved to Johannesburg and eight years later to the UK, where she completed high school and started her property career at an estate agency. In 1990, they moved back to Cape Town, which in turn led to that fateful day when she walked into the Rabie offices and never left.
“We have been managing properties since 1995, which means that for 26 years, we have been problem solving and intelligently managing a variety of property types. Rabie Property Administrators was formed as a department within the Rabie Property Group, managing its in-house properties.” says Leigh. “The portfolio grew rapidly, and a separate company was registered in 1998 as we acquired third-party clients and started managing Sectional Title properties. As a result, we established a Body Corporate Department.”
Leigh further explains the journey of RPA “In early 2019, the time arrived to spread our wings and as such, we changed our company name to RPA Property Administrators (Pty) Ltd as a stand-alone brand to distinguish ourselves as a separate entity in the marketplace, although we still remain affiliated with Rabie.” After holding the position of Portfolio Manager, Leigh was appointed a Director of the company in 2002.
Today, RPA is a boutique property administration company, which manages a R8-billion portfolio. They currently manage over 30 Sectional Title Schemes, which include both commercial and residential properties.
“One of our core principles for ensuring our success, is not overloading our Portfolio Managers with volumes.” says Leigh. “We have a flat management structure, which allows our Portfolio Managers the responsibility of the full management of their properties.”
RPA also has a resilient back-office team, consisting of financial, administrative and utilities management.
Leigh elaborates that RPA has a strong team ethos: “Our management is intricately involved and available, working alongside the various teams to ensure excellence on all levels. We offer our clients a full management package, which includes physical management of the property, management and operational reporting, and we are also able to offer additional services in terms of special projects such as project management and painting and redecoration projects.”
Mentored by Chapman and Cohen, Leigh was schooled in life, property, and leadership. “It has been my privilege to have had the opportunity to learn from these gentlemen who lead from the heart” says Leigh. “Remaining humble is a key element in great leadership, as is leading by example”
Leon Cohen, CEO of Rabie, explains the most significant attributes that Leigh displayed from the beginning. “It’s Leigh’s leadership, integrity and ability to get along with a variety of people across the board, whether it’s applicable to the management of her team or the relationships she fosters with her clients, that make her such a dynamic person and a true asset to Rabie.”
In 30 years, Leigh’s enthusiasm, and passion for what is truly her calling, has never wavered. “Every morning when I wake up, I look forward to coming work. I love my job!” exclaims Leigh.