Talking approaches to property development with Profica’s Donia Kamstra

Award-winning property and construction solutions company, Profica, is committed to excellence in every aspect of their service delivery, which includes project development, management and construction management.
This is made possible by sustaining long-term working relationships with a pool of professionally-accredited, talented and energetic people who strive to get the job done to the highest standards. And in the Cape Town region, that person is Donia Kamstra.
Profica has an ethos of leveraging local knowledge and creating value. Donia complements this with a 22-year track record that includes a number of high-profile developments, from residential and retail to educational.

Her relationship began with Profica in 2006, a year after the company was established. In the first seven years of working with Profica, Donia flexed her muscles in a variety of roles that has included client development manager, project manager, and championing the company’s sustainability focus as a technical working group member of the SA Green Starrating tool. Between 2013 and 2015, she left Profica to work as development manager on a multi-use development in the DRC. Upon completion, Donia once again joined the Profica team, bringing with her broader experience and deepened insight gained during the intensive two-year project.

Today, Donia’s specialisations are project development, facilitation and conceptualisation. She likes to focus on an integrated project management and design approach, saying, “The broad spectrum of deliverables and performances that are expected of buildings over the long-term, require the inclusion of a diverse and multi-disciplinary team upfront. This team is in it for the long haul and should be present from project definition and planning, through to completion.”

While an integrated approach to property development is particularly relevant today, Donia recalls how Profica began undertaking projects such as this as early as 2006. A particularly memorable project was the development of an upmarket shopping centre in the heart of Gugulethu, Gugulethu Square. The site of this retail centre was to be developed on an existing – small-scale trading complex. Donia reflects how the project required far more than straightforward development and construction. She says, “The nature of the project – being in the heart of the Gugulethu community – included having to build trust and a shared vision with the community. I was the client representative during the pre-development stages, and experienced first-hand the huge importance of establishing a cohesive social process when working with a multi-cultural group of people with diverse socio-economic backgrounds.”

During the project, Profica was required to develop a strategy that ensured early identification of all stakeholders and devised methods of working in an inclusive and authentic way throughout the development process. Profica also assisted the client with incorporating a baseline of sustainable principles (- and then providing assessment and measurement on an ongoing basis). While this may all seem like standard practice today, a decade ago much of this signalled a new way of working. The Profica teams’ approach to the project is one that continues to impress upon Donia the need to adopt an integrative methodology of project management rather than a traditional ‘top down’ process.

With a wealth of experience behind her, what does Donia believe the future holds for property development? She says that development trends mirror contemporary social challenges: “Currently, there is an expectation of ‘more for less’. This compels the property sector to address criteria within the budget that extend beyond the bricks and mortar aspect. This adds enormous pressure to the process of property development. Companies should equip themselves with innovative ways – sometimes beyond the property paradigm – of overcoming this challenge so that they don’t fall short of delivering an excellent product that meets all the client’s requirements and project that are regenerative for our societies.”

Donia Kamstra – Profica Project Manager

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