Up for the challenge
Finweek English|14 May 2021
Attacq’s new CEO, Jackie van Niekerk, brings an entrepreneurial spirit, ability to identify opportunities, and creative deal-making to the role.
Glenda Williams

The announcement that Jackie van Niekerk would be taking the reins at Attacq when Melt Hamman, Attacq’s former CEO, stepped down, was not that unexpected.

Though young by CEO standards, Van Niekerk brings a wealth of knowledge stemming from over 15 years of experience in the real estate industry in various positions, including CEO of Pivotal Property Fund. As significant is her four-year stint as Attacq’s COO. That brings a thorough understanding of the business and its strategy.

But Van Niekerk is taking the reins at a, particularly difficult time. A challenging economy coupled with a pandemic has altered the property environment. Did she consider declining the position? finweek asked.

“Yes, absolutely. Then I thought to myself: What better way to really stretch yourself and grow? Take the opportunity. It’s not an easy operating environment but you are not the only CEO having to get through this ... The excitement for me lies in getting creative.”

The move from one development fund to another has been a good fit for her, and for Attacq. “I came to Attacq not only understanding the asset and property management business but also with a strong development background,” she says.

Along with Attacq, Pivotal (subsequently acquired by Redefine Properties) was one of two listed development funds. Not long after Van Niekerk joined Attacq as COO, Attacq converted to a real estate investment trust (Reit).

“The deal-making and entrepreneurial spirit that I had to apply in Pivotal, I think brings a lot of strength to the role, especially given the phase that I think we are going into now.

“We have been in the survival phase, protecting our balance sheet, but now it is about identifying and unlocking the opportunities that have come out of what we’ve been through.”

Leadership approach

Van Niekerk brings a leadership style she terms as “very much forward-thinking and future-driven”. She also brings qualities that Attacq’s former CEOs exhibited. “Morné (Wilken) was the amazing deal-maker; Melt (Hamman) the caring, empathetic, safe pair of hands. I’m a little bit of both.”

Three men in the industry were pivotal in shaping her. “Dave Savage and Thys Neser at Abland really invested in me.

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