Manager bids PMB mall farewell

2014-09-29 00:00

THE Liberty Midlands Mall centre manager, Umi Khan, bids farewell after two years at the helm of Pietermaritzburg’s biggest mall.

She only had positive things to say about the city and its potential to grow when interviewed on her last day in office.

Khan, who comes from humble beginnings in Mhlathuzana outside Durban, will be going back home, as a director at an NGO.

She said she was proud to have achieved all that she set herself to achieve in her time as the centre manager.

Khan said she was blessed to have parents who sent her to a private Muslim school. “My parents paid R500 a year in those days, but that shaped me into what I was to become later in life.”

She said she was definitely not born with a silver spoon in the mouth. “As a child I wanted to be a lawyer but there were no funds to further educate me.”

She literally had to walk the streets of Durban looking for a job. “I finally found temporary work as a PA, which opened a lot of doors for me,” she said.

Khan then applied for a position as a clerk at Sanlam in the Embassy Building, followed by a position as a receptionist as Sanlam Properties. From here her career followed into property development.

She completed various accounting diplomas in the past 18 years, including management, property development courses and Women in Leadership, which she studied at UCT in 2012.

“I met dynamic women in leadership roles and it was awesome,” she said.

Khan thinks the country has come a long way in transforming women’s roles in property development.

“I remember when I first started in 1996, where white males would not want to deal with me,” she said.

Nowadays corporates have given a lot of women a chance to grow and have embraced women in leadership, she said.

A single mother to an 11-year-old daughter, Khan said she aims to live a balanced life to ensure that her success complements her life as a mother, “which has not always been easy”.

She said her mother and daughter have been her pillars of strength.

Khan has worked for Sanlam, Old Mutual and Liberty Properties.

KHAN said being in this job, she has been able to inspire her mother to drive at the age of 65 when she had not driven in 20 years.

She said she was also able to move her mother from a traditional Indian neighbourhood to Hayfields where she has been able to mix with other cultures and therefore live a fuller life.

“I think people underestimate the wealth this city has and the onus is for the people of this city to change the perception out there of the classification of the city as a sleepy hollow,” she said.

Khan’s message to the incoming centre manager is “get to know your tenants, staff, service providers and the community first before you can manage”.

Her mom has also gained

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