It all started for Billy Rautenbach back home in South Africa, where she got into the real estate industry by accident. "One of my clients was looking for an administrator, so I said, ‘I can do that', so he gave me the opportunity and I loved it".
Having been in Dubai for four years, she's the first to admit it's been a tough journey to the top, having started with a team of just 12 agents, Billy Rautenbach is now responsible for over 200. "The challenge was that in one country, you have a certain set of rules," says Rautenbach. "I come from South Africa where the real estate market is quite regulated, so arriving in Dubai where at the time the market wasn't really regulated was a challenging start. There were so many different nationalities with their own way of thinking, with different ways of doing things, so it was a question of mediating and trying to find the middle ground".
Although the move to Dubai created new challenges for her to overcome, Billy Rautenbach admits that there are some challenges which remain across the board - particularly for women. "In the real estate market in general, even from where I've come, it's a business that is led and dominated by men, it's not to say they do a better job than women, but it's a fact that has been a challenge for me all my life - competing in the industry with men. I have a lot of respect for the culture here and it's because of that respect that I've learnt to adapt the way that I operate with people of different cultures. I think that's been my saving grace."
For the employees of Better Homes, the real estate business is no walk in the park. As Rautenbach is keen to point out, it's fast-paced and could easily leave you wondering whether you work days or nights. "The industry that we're in is a 24/7 industry," explains Rautenbach.
"And it's not about closing shop at 5 o'clock in the afternoon. You need people who have stamina; people who have that get up and go. I've got a lot of energy, and you need people around you to have that energy and that you can trust," she says.
"First of all, I thought Dubai would be big enough for me, but as part of a company that is growing internationally I now know that I have the opportunity to do the same but on a global basis. We would like to take the company global and I'm very excited to be a part of that. For me it is going to be part of a new challenge".
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