There is no shortage of talented and successful CAs (SA) in the country, and every year Accountancy SA goes on the search for the top 35-under-35’s to showcase and celebrate the achievements of these individuals, particularly in terms of leadership, career advancement and social investment. This week’s 35-under-35 is Bronwyn Corbett, the COO and CFO of the Delta Property Fund.

Bronwyn’s father was an entrepreneur and the family lived their lives through his successes and downturns. He taught her important lessons about business though, and, even as a child, he gave her insight into deal-making and strategic negotiation skills.

“I have a vivid memory as a three-year-old child living on a farm of going with my father to purchase cattle and watching his negotiation skills intently. As a result, I always had a passion to build my own business, but I wanted to ensure that I would grow something that was sustainable.”

Due to financial constraints, she was unable to attend university, but through her mother - who worked at Ernst & Young - Bronwyn got to know the partners, who recommended her to BDO to commence with articles straight out of school and study at the same time. Her first milestone was achieving a first-time pass for her honours degree and both board exams while working and paying off her loan.

“I then made the big decision to move to Johannesburg, which served as the next catapult to my career. I was fortunate to be placed in a position in an auditing firm where I was exposed to a property client that required ten years of financial accounts to be reconstructed: this is how I ‘fell’ into the property sector and what has become my career in property,” she reveals.

Bronwyn and her partner acquired their first asset six years ago and because of market conditions, they listed the portfolio in November 2012 - consisting of 20 properties at R2.6 billion. They have since grown the portfolio to over R9 billion, comprising 101 properties in South Africa and represented in every province. In 2014, they listed Delta International, with a fund size of US$226 million focused on African real estate outside South Africa.

Bronwyn is one of only four female executives in the listed property sector. Her passion is women in property, and she is the largest contributor to the Women’s Property Network bursary programme.

“Have all the passion and energy in the world, but be focused and avoid distractions,” she advises. “Never say die and believe in your end goal.”

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