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David Morris

David Morris: An Expedition of Tenacity and Exemplary Governance

A Tale of Determination, Ambition, and Leadership

In the world of business, success stories often start with a clear path and a well-defined plan. These stories inspire and motivate aspiring entrepreneurs, showcasing the power of determination and strategic thinking. But what if success doesn’t always follow a linear path? What if there are unexpected twists and turns that lead to even greater achievements?

For David Morris, the journey to the top was a winding road, filled with unexpected twists and turns. From starting as an apprentice electrician to becoming the CEO of CBRE Excellerate, his story is not just a testament to his resilience but a shining example of how sheer determination and hard work can pave the way to success.

His journey into the real estate sector was not preordained but rather a stroke of luck that transformed into a lifelong passion. Accepted into an apprenticeship program, he embarked on his career as an electrician, working his way up the industry ladder step by step.

His journey, however, was not without its challenges. Unlike many of his peers who held university degrees, David lacked formal qualifications when he left school. This presented a unique obstacle in his path to leadership, as he found himself competing with peers who seemed better suited for the C-suite. Instead of yielding to this adversity, his resolve only grew stronger. He was determined to succeed, and his journey is a testament to the idea that determination and hard work can conquer any obstacle.

In his pursuit of excellence, David decided to further his education by enrolling in an MBA program in his 30s. This dedication to personal growth led to his graduation with an MBA in Strategy and Corporate Governance from Glasgow Caledonian University, enhancing his strategic acumen and leadership capabilities.

As a leader, he is known for his unwavering commitment to his employees. He understands that an organization’s strength lies in its people, and he is passionate about ensuring that every member of the CBRE Excellerate family feels connected, involved, and motivated. Whether it’s presenting to his board or addressing his field employees, he takes pride in every aspect of his role.

David’s career has taken him to various locations around the world, including Europe and Southeast Asia, before settling in South Africa three years ago. He joined CBRE Excellerate for Africa and the Middle East as the COO initially to stabilize the company, and later became the CEO to drive growth. His dedication to the company is a testament to his character, as he has worked at 3 different companies, steadily climbing the ladder, including his current role at CBRE/CBRE Excellerate, where he has devoted 15 years of service.

Below are the highlights of the interview:

A Journey of Innovation and Success

CBRE Excellerate is renowned for its integrated, high-quality real estate services, specifically designed to meet the unique requirements of diverse markets in Africa and the Middle East. With a strong focus on excellence and innovation, CBRE Excellerate has established itself as a trusted partner for clients in need of exceptional real estate solutions. The company’s wide range of services includes facilities management, advisory and transaction services, project and development management, broking, valuations, and property management

CBRE Excellerate primarily serves corporate entities through contractual arrangements, extending not only to Europe, the Middle East, and Africa but also globally, depending on the scope of their real estate portfolios. This extensive geographic coverage highlights the company’s ability to cater to diverse client needs and various market conditions, positioning it as a versatile and adaptable partner in the field of real estate services.

One of CBRE Excellerate’s core strengths lies in its holistic approach to real estate management. Its integrated facilities management services provide enterprise clients with a comprehensive solution that covers the entire real estate lifecycle. This strategic capability enables CBRE Excellerate to oversee all stages, from asset acquisition to project and development management, and from facilities management to valuations. By offering a consolidated suite of services, the company streamlines processes, enhances efficiency, and maximizes the potential for value creation.

CBRE Excellerate places a strong emphasis on sustainability and responsible business practices, which underpin every aspect of its operations. The company is mindful of its environmental impact and strives to incorporate eco-friendly and sustainable practices into its services whenever possible. This commitment not only aligns with global trends but also demonstrates its responsibility towards the communities and environments in which it operates.

Secrets to Effective Decision-Making

David formulates CBRE Excellerate’s organizational strategy with an open mind. Firstly, he empowers his senior team, who are subject matter experts in their own right, to provide him with the advice needed to ensure effective and informed decision-making. Secondly, he utilizes a combination of academic experience and practical knowledge to strategize, enabling the business to establish clear and concise objectives for its teams.

The Winning Recipe

During the discussion on the factors that contribute to a company’s growth and sustainability, David kindly emphasized the value of diversification within the sector of operation. He mentioned that this allows businesses to recognize strategic opportunities in the market and maintain a strong competitive position. Furthermore, he kindly emphasized the importance of remaining true to the company’s values and having a well-defined path for achieving desired goals.

Powerful Company Culture

According to David, the role of culture in the overall success of an organization cannot be understated. He believes that culture is the bedrock upon which a successful business is built. David warns that in fast-paced and growing organizations, there is a significant risk of diluting the culture. He emphasizes that failing to recognize the impact of culture can have negative consequences for sustainable growth. To cultivate a positive and productive company culture, David stresses the importance of fostering employee engagement. He suggests that providing clear guidance to employees about the organization’s goals and direction is crucial to ensuring their active participation and dedication to achieving these objectives.

Successful Change Management Strategies

CBRE Excellerate, a joint venture, faced challenges due to the merging of two different management styles. However, careful management and the involvement of all key stakeholders from the beginning ensured engagement and a smooth transition. A project plan that resonated with everyone provided clear direction and fostered a sense of belonging throughout the journey.

Setting Industry Standards for Diversity and Inclusion

Organizations achieve greater success by cultivating a workforce that is diverse and inclusive. CBRE Excellerate, as a company, promotes and embraces these values in all aspects of its operations. “Through initiatives like ‘Belonging Beyond Borders’ and the diligent oversight of our DE&I steerco, we strive to meet our predetermined targets and establish ourselves as industry leaders. Our commitment to these principles has been recognized by the Disability Equality Index® (DEI), which has honoured us as the “Best Place to Work for Disability Inclusion” and awarded us a top score in 2023.”

Strategic Approach to Growth

CBRE Excellerate prioritizes measured and sustainable growth, recognizing the potential risks associated with rapid expansion. The company instills this mindset within its sales teams and maintains regular monitoring to ensure that growth remains in check. With a risk-based approach applied to all operations, CBRE Excellerate also established a dedicated risk and compliance committee to provide ongoing oversight of the business. By reporting directly to the CEO, the company ensures that this emphasis on measured growth originates from top-level leadership.

Tough Decisions to Lasting Impact

When David first arrived in Africa, the business had a broad approach of “Do everything everywhere,” which was not sustainable and would have resulted in high costs and limited returns. A tough decision was made to categorize the markets and limit local facilities management sales to five countries in Africa and the Middle East as Tier one, while the rest were placed in Tiers two and three. Initially, there was resistance due to operating in twenty-eight countries, but through continuous communication, engagement, and explanation of the thought process, the teams embraced the decision. As a result, they have enjoyed the benefits of a laser focus on sales in specific markets.

Rave Reviews and Prestigious Awards


“We have worked with CBRE Excellerate Facilities Management (Pty) Ltd. for the past 5 years. They started with our stores in Zambia in 2018 and activated additional countries systematically: Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, and Nigeria. We find their expertise to be very resilient in some tough trading markets. CBRE Excellerate has been a trusted partner, and we always receive excellent service.” – Gerhard Fritz Chief Operating Officer – Non-RSA.


As a team leader, David doesn’t prioritize individual awards. Nevertheless, he takes immense pride in his team’s achievements and accolades, considering them a true reflection of their collective efforts.

The CBRE Excellerate Facilities Management division was awarded the prestigious Golden Arrow Award at the PMR Africa Awards event in Johannesburg, South Africa, for the fourth consecutive year. “This remarkable achievement serves as a testament to our team’s unwavering commitment to Facilities Management excellence. It represents a collective effort that underscores our dedication to providing top-tier service to our valued customers.”

In recent times, the CBRE Excellerate Team achieved a significant milestone by winning the esteemed Property Service Group of the Year award 2023 at the Annual API Summit.