From A Cottage In Cape Town To A Château In France

Published 11 years ago
From A Cottage In Cape Town To A Château In France

How different it could have been. Property’s loss could have been the theater’s gain. Believe it or not, if she hadn’t become a property queen, Pam Golding wanted to be a singer and dancer in cabaret.

“I love dancing, music and singing!” she says of her little-known longing for the limelight.

Golding’s millionaire career, too, started out on a small stage in the 1960s in Kenilworth, Cape Town, with a handful of agents selling houses around the corner—the first of which was a cottage. The business now has 300 offices; 2,500 agents and 30,000 properties, including a French château. It is the fruit of the forceful approach of a woman who invested in difficult times in South Africa’s history when companies like Barclays and General Motors were pulling out. As the world locked South Africa with economic sanctions, Golding was opening an office in London, selling South African properties.


Golding as a young woman


“I started the company when South Africa was going through a recession and people said I was crazy to go on my own. But I rarely take notice of things such as recessions! I was determined to succeed and that is half the battle already won,” says Golding.

It was this drive that led to a strategic alliance with Savills—a property group based in the United Kingdom with more than 200 offices around the world. This alliance has helped Golding expand in the international market.


“Ms Pam Golding is a pioneering business woman who has built a formidable international business. She stands as a testament of the capability of women and as a role model for all those women who have what it takes but may be unsure about going into business,” says Kunyalala Maphisa, president of the Business Woman’s Association of South Africa.

It all sprang from humble beginnings. Golding, who is part of South Africa’s real estate royalty, attended the Collegiate School for girls in Port Elizabeth, before earning a degree from the University of Cape Town. Her early working days were spent selling the Treasure Casket children’s books door-to-door. With the commission she earned she took her mother on a trip to England. With time, she developed a knack for selling, which gave birth to her real estate career.

There was humility too. Golding’s husband, Cecil, had to persuade her to name the company after herself. More than 30 years later, the Pam Golding Group sells everything from franchises to hotels and has turned over more than $1.48 billion for the financial year, ended February 2012.

The franchising of Pam Golding Properties helped the company expand. The franchisees are given management training and support through the Pam Golding Training Academy. The group’s current CEO, Dr Andrew Golding, feels that franchising is not about saturating the market but rather about filling a gap.


Pam Golding Property Management Services manages 150 schemes at a market value of more than $1.46 billion. Golding herself has taken a step back from the business but remains its president.

Dr Andrew Golding

“My son Andrew Golding became chief executive of the group in 1996, and I realized that the company was in good hands… Trying to achieve a balance between career and personal life has always been a challenge,” says Golding.

Golding may not have been a cabaret dancer but she has waltzed through the tough real estate market—without missing a step.