Amanda Cuba’s love for and interest in real estate was fostered from the age of 12, studying the newspapers’ various property pages. She quickly developed a head for real estate, how its supply and demand dynamics influenced price and in turn suburb appeal.
Her self-taught “education” on the Cape property market led her to believe that she would most likely be an estate agent, but her mother’s insistence that she study and get an education was clear.
It was also the fact that her mother owned her own home that enabled Cuba to go to university.
Following a degree in business science she began her working career at Accenture where she honed her leadership skills and learned how to position herself as a brand.
“Who needs to know who you are?” says Cuba, co-owner of Z-Capital Properties and COO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa. “You need to see yourself as a brand and therefore position yourself in people’s minds who you want to influence.”
In 2011 she left the corporate world and formed investment and management consultancy Z-Capital with her sister, Yolanda Cuba, and two family members.
Last year she was appointed as a director at RE/MAX of Southern Africa after acquiring a 45% share of RE/MAX of Southern Africa. After a year of familiarising herself with the industry and the organisation, in April 2016 she was appointed as the chief operating officer, where she will be taking a more hands-on role in managing the company’s day-to-day operations as well as focusing on growing the brand’s market share in both currently tapped and uncharted territory.
“We want to continue to be the brand that offers the best services and benefits in the industry to its agents and franchisees,” says Cuba. “Currently there are offices and agents within the brand that do sell homes that fall within the affordable housing band; however it is an area that can grow immensely. Considering the vast amount of South Africans who fall into this segment of the market, we are merely scratching the surface in this sector of the market and RE/MAX could do a lot in growing our brand presence in this area.”
5 minutes with Cuba
Q When you started your own business, what was your “why”, and how has it changed over the years?
A The first time I set out to start a business was because I wanted to control my time and be able to have more time for my family. When I formed Z-Capital, my why changed and it was to build a business that will provide employment for a greater number of people, and build a legacy for my family.
Q How do you keep your “why” front and centre and not let it get bogged down by the day to day management of the business?
A I constantly ask myself whether what I am doing is for the greater good and will it create stable employment. Being bogged down in the day to day management has been a struggle at times, until I was coached and learned that to grow the business, I need to work on the business rather than in the business. I keep that in mind all the time now.
Q Who was your business mentor and what did he/she fail to teach you that you’re happy you learned by yourself?
A My aunt is someone that I admire in business. She had instilled the value of hard work, commitment, diligence and high customer service focus. She owned and managed a butchery and a supermarket, and the cleanliness in both these premises was first class. She had high standards and expected it and trained everyone who worked for her, in order to provide great service and high quality products to her customers. She worked very hard, but she worked in her business and not on her business. In her later years she lost all that she had worked so hard for over three decades, as the retail industry changed and moved into the township.
Q How big a part did your ego play in your business’ success – or did it end up having the opposite effect of getting in the way of success?
A I am driven by the success of the greater good and strategic imperatives. Thus business decisions are taken with that in mind.
Q Your business is as much about high level processes as it is about people. Did you know from the start what you needed for your business in terms of skills and personality characteristics, or was it a lot of trial and error?
A I knew what was required in my current business, as I had worked extensively in management consulting dealing with people, systems and processes. Going into the business, I looked for people who have potential for growth, willing to be team players and have a positive attitude towards life. Personality characteristics affect the pace at which business strategy and development are executed. When there are clashing personalities, more time is spent on dealing with people issues and it slows down business focus and their growth.
Q As a business owner you have to delegate and hand over aspects of your business if it’s going to grow successfully. What was the hardest aspect of your business to hand over to someone else and what were your instructions to this person/team upon hand over?
A I had to delegate the procurement, supplier approvals and bank transactions, as it was taking too much of my time and there were moments when decisions had to be taken and executed quickly. I was constantly travelling and thus was delaying payments at the time. I had to hand over that function to the most competent person and having observed her diligence and forthrightness in dealing with business finance, I trusted her fully. She was also comfortable with challenging the necessity of business expense, as she understood that cash is king in any business.