25 February 2019
Born and raised in Slovakia, Andrea Gombalova Stevens embraced a new language and a new culture when she made South Africa her home many years ago. She epitomises servant leadership; “a philosophy and set of practices that enriches the lives of individuals, builds better organisations and ultimately creates a more just and caring world” She sets an exceptional standard and leads strongly by example, demonstrating discipline and mindfulness in all she does. She is warm and fully vested in the well-being of her team yet fiercely determined to be successful. She expects (and gets) the very best from those around her. Andrea is the franchisee of Just Property Port Elizabeth, focussing on residential property management, rentals and sales.
Q1: What is your backstory?
My story starts with humble beginnings as a young immigrant leaving communist ran country Czechoslovakia at that time, looking for what the world had to offer. Blessed by meeting the man of my dreams to whom I am married, had two beautiful children and started a business called Just Letting in 2000. Taking all the opportunities it had to offer us the business grew at a rapid speed and in 2005 Just Commercial was born, followed by Just Property Group in 2009, then Just Residential in 2010 and finally to the one singular brand Just Property in 2016. It has been my privilege to be part of this whole brand transformation from its birth with over 100 franchises nationwide today. I am currently a franchise of Just Property in Port Elizabeth and I can say with full honesty that I live, sleep and eat Just Property!
Q2: How do you get the best from people around you?
Being a leader can be a very lonely place; I need to find ways to stay energised so that I can build people up constantly. I lead firmly by example and this is the most rewarding when I see the people around me adopting my work ethic, believing in the same vision and following me without any resistance. It is my duty to ensure my daily growth as a leader so I can grow and get the best out of people around me. I start each day focused on my own personal development, learning from business leaders around the world so that I can share best practice and grow my team. This is part of my morning ritual and is a non-negotiable part of every day.
Q3: Why did you move to South Africa?
I married a South African man and South Africa was a better option for us to settle in since my husband doesn’t speak a word of Slovakian! Our children enjoy the quality of life that is uniquely South African and we are blessed to travel back to Slovakia regularly with them. It is important to me that they understand and appreciate their mixed heritage. We have never regretted choosing South Africa as our home and we have great hopes for this nation.
Q4: Do you miss anything about your birthplace Slovakia?
Sure I do! Slovakia will always remain my home. It’s strong culture and traditions are deeply rooted in me and I definitely miss that aspect of it. I come from humble beginnings and I love the humility and simplicity of the people I grew up with. It keeps me grounded in who I am.
Q5: Who inspires you?
The closest person who inspires me is my husband. His name is Paul, which means “humble leader”, and that is exactly what he is. Even though he has achieved many great things in his life he always remains that humble leader and true to himself. Other key role models are my mother and brothers who constantly remind me what is real in life and what really matters.
I also study daily; taking inspiration and learning from leaders across all spheres of work and life. Business leaders like Mel Robbins, spiritual leaders like Eckhart Tolle and various industry experts all feed my hunger for learning and growth. Those close to me know that I quote these leaders daily as I try to apply their teachings and pay the lessons forward. Once we grow and become leaders it is also our duty to inspire our teams, our family, our friends. That leadership has a ripple effect on many and this is what drives me.
And one last soundbite:
Andrea has an obsession with capturing memories (and the people who help make them) in photographs. “A day in the life of Just Property Port Elizabeth” is pretty well documented on Facebook!