Since the 1970’s when Pam Golding first opened the doors of her property business in South Africa, she has built a formidable reputation, career and a business that is renowned around the world, inspiring generations of women in business who have followed her example.
Today, the name Pam Golding is synonymous with the property industry in Africa and around the world, in her role as founder and life president of South Africa’s renowned estate agency, Pam Golding Property (PGP) Group. But, how did she get started in the business? She matriculated from Collegiate School for Girls in Port Elizabeth and has a BA degree majoring in English & Psychology (Hons) from the University of Cape Town. Her first job was at the University of Natal Pietermaritzburg as assistant to the Student Advisor, followed by the position of sales agent for the Junior Literary Society and then sales promotion and marketing assistant at Caltex head office.
“I have always believed that women can do anything they set their hearts on.”
Her journey into a career in the marketing of real estate began in the early 1960s when her children were young, and at the time, it was more of a hobby than a career, allowing her the opportunity to work from home. The initial germ of an idea for starting up a real estate business of her own, came from her own personal experience of buying the family’s first home. She found herself enjoying the experience of buying a property, and began to have casual conversations with others in her network about buying and selling property, giving ad-hoc insights or advice when asked, and then referring those people on to a realtor. Eventually, this process piqued her interest and she looked at ways to directly meet the real estate needs of those she was speaking with in terms of their individual property sales and purchasing requirements. What started out as a general interest in houses, evolved into a springboard to a serious career in the property industry.
"People told me I was mad to start a business in the market as it was then. But I thought to myself, if I can survive in this market, business will fly when things improve.”
In 1976, Pam Golding saw her dream realised when she opened the doors of her very own real estate marketing company. Assisted by one sales person, she commenced her fledgling business in a particularly challenging economic climate at the time. The first sale she concluded was that of Laundry Cottage in Kenilworth. One of the early challenges was raising capital, but this was eventually overcome and the company saw steady growth in the early years. Pam’s passion for property, combined with her uncanny ability to understand the needs of both buyers and sellers and to match them up accordingly, gave her an edge in the market. Her highly personal and stylish approach to the business of property sales, also gave the company a unique identity and company philosophy that separated it from the competition.
In 1979, Pam Golding Properties expanded, moving into its first office in Kenilworth, with a staff of five estate agents and an accountant. Two more branch offices followed in Cape Town’s Fish Hoek and Sea Point in 1981. In the 1980’s, her hard work and vision saw the Pam Golding Property Group expand to open an office in London in 1986, becoming as a result, the first South African real estate company to market local properties abroad. In 1988 the company expanded nationally with its first branch opening in Johannesburg and in 1993 the group launched its franchise operation, Pam Golding Franchise Services.
With further vision and as part of its strategic global positioning, the Pam Golding Property Group forged a strategic alliance with leading UK-based property group Savills, providing access to a network of 500 offices worldwide, as well as world-class resources and expertise. Today, the Pam Golding Group has network of more than 300 offices across Africa, 186 franchises, and approximately 3000 employees, as well as global offices in Europe (France, Germany, Belgium, Holland and the UK), Mauritius and the Seychelles, plus a network of offices across the African continent, including Namibia, Swaziland, Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Whether it’s a career in selling and renting homes, the financial or hospitality sector, women can absolutely do anything they put their minds to.
One of the highlights of Pam’s career came when she found the wonderful home that Former President Nelson Mandela and his wife Graca Machel would share. She has always loved the satisfaction of matching sellers and buyers, the latter often with their dream home. On a broader scale, she has found it to be extremely rewarding being able to promote South Africa to the world and to network with various people.
On her success of building a brand that has been in existence for 36 years now, she says being a good listener and perceptive to a client’s requirements has been imperative in the real estate industry. Pam also points out that an ability to sell, combined with a love of selling property, are essential ingredients to being and staying in the business, and equally important is the need to maintain the highest ethics and professionalism. She says she has always done her best to uphold these as key elements in her career.
Today, her role has evolved beyond the business of property into one of an ambassadorial nature as a global networker and facilitator, encompassing both the promotion of South Africa and its diversity of investment opportunities to the world at large. She has become an icon and globally recognised woman in business, with a host of industry memberships to her name, including being the founder member of Proudly South African and the International Marketing Council among others. She has been the recipient of a host of major awards throughout the years, and recognised for her considerable contribution to the development of the real estate marketing industry in Africa and abroad, and also her major societal contributions.