FEATURE: TOP APC CANDIDATES 2016

MATTHEW LEGG

How did you prepare for your exams?

By sitting in a room, discussing and debating day in and day out with a team of three of the most beautiful and brilliant minds I know. Dane, Dean, Kerri (in alphabetical order), thank you beyond words for carrying me through – this achievement is as much yours as it is mine.

What did you do to celebrate this great achievement?

I spent the day (and early hours of the next morning!) both physically and telephonically with those who shared in this journey (the pains and the triumphs) with me – my study group, my family and my colleagues from both UCT and Deloitte.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?

To stop giving a darn – to stop worrying and fretting about the future, what could have or should have been, or regretting the ‘mistakes’ of the past. The less worry, fret, stress and regret, the more time available for actually doing.

What are your future aspirations?

To give ten times as much back to the world as it has given to me throughout my 25 years on earth. That and opening a surf shop on some exotic island, sipping margaritas every day.

KELTON BINGHAM

What/who inspired you to become a CA(SA)?

There are two major reasons: I have always enjoyed the thrill of a challenge and I am somewhat competitive in nature. Back in school, accounting was never my strong suit, I was more inclined to take up a career in medicine or engineering. However, in matric and thereafter I challenged myself to turn something that I was not good at into my strong suit.

How did you prepare for your exams?

I thoroughly enjoyed the APC preparation process whereby you are given five days to research an industry and a case study to your heart’s content. It is the way that this exam is set out that makes it stand out from all of the other exams. I felt like I was in my element researching and trying to figure out all of the ways that the examiner could ask a specific question. Another thing that sets this preparation process apart from other exams is the ability to work with a team (fellow APC candidates). Our team would meet up on a daily basis for hours to work on, discuss and debate the case study. Without the ability to collaborate with my fellow APC candidates, it would have been a much harder task to get to where I am today.

Did you ever feel like giving up? What motivated you to stick it out?

My resolve for obtaining this qualification has never wavered; I am not a person that gives up easily or without a fight. That being said, I haven’t had to endure the hardships or challenges that some people have had to deal with where their resolve is tested. I do however think about what things would be like had I chosen a different path and what my life would be like.

GJ RICHTER

What/who inspired you to become a CA(SA)?

My father motivated me to become a CA(SA). He always said with the CA(SA) designation significantly improves your ability to attract decent job opportunities.

Did you ever feel like giving up? What motivated you to stick it out?

No, I wouldn’t say I ever felt like giving up but I did feel a bit negative now and then. To be honest, I have been really lucky through the journey of becoming a CA(SA) not to have experienced any failure. I guess what motivated me for the APC being the last academic hurdle was the fear of failure.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?

Life does not owe you anything. You have to work hard for what you want in life, it won’t be presented to you on a silver platter.

How did the company support you in this journey?

My training office, BDO PTA, gave me exposure to different industries and audit sections. In addition, because it is a medium-sized firm, not all the jobs has an audit manager and therefore you as a trainee have to fill the role as both trainee and manager to manage client relationships. My audit firm also allowed us to attend APT classes in a time slot of our choice.

What are your future aspirations?

My future aspirations are to strive for a good work–life balance – in other words, work hard, play hard. I want to work for a company in an industry that I am interested in and where I can associate with the values of a company.

RONET JORDAAN

What/who inspired you to become a CA(SA)?

The person who inspired me to follow a career in accounting was my accounting teacher in high school. He was always so incredibly passionate and enthusiastic about his subject that in the end it was easy to choose to pursue a career as a CA(SA).

How did you prepare for your exams?

I put in a lot of hard work and sleepless nights and ensured that I was stubborn with a purpose – also known as perseverance …

Did you ever feel like giving up? What motivated you to stick it out?

All the time, but I just kept reminding myself that having come this far I cannot give up when I am so close to the finish line. Luckily I was also part of a great team who helped me to stay motivated and focused!

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?

Always follow your heart, but remember to take your brain with.

What are your future aspirations?

I initially studied forensic accountancy at Pukke and would really like to further explore this as a career in the near future. However, I am also contemplating doing an MBA and learning more about the corporate sector.

What are some of your hobbies?

I love to pour myself a glass of wine and put on some music while reading the day away. I also really love horses and enjoy horseback riding as often as I can. Otherwise spending quality time with my loved ones and creating memories.

KYLE MOODLEY

Did you ever feel like giving up? What motivated you to stick it out?

Yes, I think the majority of the APC class of 2016 did at one stage during this amazing journey. What motivated me to keep pushing on was my determination to finish what I had started. It would have been my biggest regret had I given up. I think that I even surprised myself with the outcome.

Is there anyone you look to as a role model and why?

It’s difficult to pinpoint any one individual. I was lucky to have many role models to look up to throughout my life. To my parents (Robin and Delice) and sister (Cherise), who always see the best in others. To Michael, who showed me the importance of hard work and to Prelecia for completing this journey with me. She played a major part in my success and made me into the person I am today.

How did the company support you in this journey?

At PKF, I was lucky enough to be surrounded by the right people with the right solutions. From my first interview with Robyn, to the constant support and encouragement from Andrea, Jerusha, Nicolas and my fellow audit trainees, who have always believed in me and helped me immensely during this journey. I would not have accomplished this without you.

What are some of your hobbies?

Playing video games (especially FIFA, in which I am a Division 1 champion), going for jogs on the beach and enjoying creative activities.

LOUISA PRETORIUS (DE KRAMER)

How did you prepare for your exams?

The best way to prepare is to put effort into the board course. The course is designed to help you pass but in the end what you make of it will be the deciding factor.

Did you ever feel like giving up? What made you stick it out?

I often felt like giving up. But knowing you have come so far and that this is the final push is what helps you to see it through. You don’t want to come this far just to throw it all away.

What is the best piece of advice you ever received?

Stress is only useful while you can still do something about it. Stressing after the exam about the result won’t change the outcome.

PETRI STRAUSS

How did you prepare for your exams?

During my preparation, it was important to me to understand the bigger picture of each topic rather than solely understanding it from a theoretical perspective. This enabled me to be flexible and to not be too narrow-minded in answering the unpredictable questions on the day.

Did you ever feel like giving up? What motivated you to stick it out?

There was a day somewhere in my third year of varsity where I considered giving up. After much thought I came to the conclusion that I had already crossed the Rubicon and that I was too deep into this journey to turn back.

Is there anyone you look to as a role model and why?

I read an article in ASA a few years ago about Vusi Nkabini who became a CA(SA) at the age of 52 after almost two decades of pursuing the designation and facing many challenges in his personal life. After reflecting on the article his story motivated me to reach my own career goals.

How did the company support you in this journey?

Deloitte exposed me to a wide variety of clients across various industries of varying complexities which enabled me to have dealt with most of the audit and accounting standards and many of the tax, legal and corporate governance concepts that we faced in our APT and APC tests. This benefited me significantly as I could think practically about what was required of me when answering each question rather than to just think of what was required of me in theoretical terms.

DANIELLA SHENKER

What/who inspired you to become a CA (SA)?

The commercial world has always fascinated me and this drew me to studying towards becoming a chartered accountant. My experience in the profession thus far has matched my expectations in that the profession has provided me with a solid commercial grounding and an insight into the intricacies of business.

Is there anyone you look to as a role model and why?

My family has been a continuous support in both my professional and personal life – teaching me the value of hard work, the importance of understanding one another and the fact that challenges faced can always be overcome with the help of tenacity and strength.

This degree has provided me with a platform for continual development and has given me the opportunity to challenge myself and to work with an array of people, some of whom have inspired me and some of whom have qualities that I hope to be able to emulate.

What are some of your hobbies?

When I’m not saving the world one audit at a time, I am in front of my canvas painting and putting my touch on what I see in the world around me. With this, I am able to embrace my creative side and together with the time spent with family and friends, achieve a balance in my life.

What are your future aspirations?

I believe that our beautiful South Africa holds so many opportunities to allow me to work in a dynamic environment where I am able to have an impact that matters.

The experiences I have had in the profession thus far, coupled with the lessons I have learnt on a professional and personal level, is what I will take forward with me in all  my future endeavours.

WALLACE BARNES

Who inspired you to become a CA(SA)?

My father was the main inspiration for me to taking the business route and proved to me first hand that hard work and perseverance pay off. CA(SA) was not originally part of the plan, but after completing my undergraduate accounting degree, it was a challenge I could not refuse.

How did you prepare for your exams?

I was part of a very hard-working and committed group, evidenced by the fact that two of us made the honours roll. Preparing for these examinations differed from any studying done in university as it forced us to gain a holistic understanding of the scenario, which I enjoyed thoroughly.

Did you ever feel like giving up? What motivated you to stick it out?

Honours year at university was definitely the most challenging time throughout the whole journey. Consistently working late into the night and having to give up many of the social aspects of studying at Stellenbosch University was not easy, but I knew that it would be worth it in the end.

What did you do to celebrate this great achievement?

Well, you’ll have to ask me again when the celebrations are over, but we had a fantastic office function and a weekend to remember.

How did the company support you in this journey?

Deloitte was very supportive throughout, providing us with sufficient time and resources to properly prepare. They were also very understanding when it came to taking leave.

What are your future aspirations?

This is a hard one and a question that has come up all too frequently in the last few weeks! I would have to say that my main aspiration post-articles is to do something that is both challenging and will, in the long term, make a positive impact in the world.

SORET NEL

Who inspired you to became a CA(SA)?

My grandfather has always been in business and from an early age he told me about life as a businessman. He, together with my accounting teacher, who is very passionate about accounting,  contributed towards me becoming a CA(SA). My grandfather always encouraged me to persevere. I never gave up as I wanted to make him proud by becoming the first CA(SA) in our family.

How did you prepare for the exams?

I had an excellent study group! All of us individually worked out the triggers and had a group discussion at the end of each day. We also made use of the contact sessions with the APT teaching team where we received valuable information on exam techniques and feedback after each assessment.

How did the company support you in this journey?

Moore Stephens VDA Inc provided our trainees with more than the minimum required study days in order to be well prepared for all our assessments. They have been very supportive throughout the course of the APT/APC programme.

What did you do to celebrate this great achievement?

I celebrated my result with members of my study group, loved ones and family. We enjoyed a glass of wine while watching an open-air show with the Stellenbosch mountains as backdrop. What a memorable moment to complete the circle where my journey to become a CA(SA) started! In the end, there is nothing better than spending quality time with those who have supported you on this journey.

JASON SMITH

What/who inspired you to become a CA(SA)?

Numerous influences have inspired me to become a CA(SA). First, the CA(SA) is an internationally recognised qualification providing attractive career opportunities across numerous industries worldwide. Second, my brother and father are CAs(SA) and as such I have grown up with a financial background and a developed keen interests in finance and financial management. Hence, the diverse topics encompassed within the qualification determined my desire to complete the CA(SA).

How did you prepare for your exams?

I completed the UCT Board Course where a key focus was on completing assignments consistently throughout the period, as well as consistently updating my knowledge of industry developments and current affairs.

How did the company support you in this journey?

I work in the PwC Banking and Capital Markets Division in Johannesburg. PwC have provided effective training sessions throughout my term spent at PwC, ensuring our knowledge is consistently updated and in line with latest industry developments. Furthermore, PwC staff were accommodating to the fact that we were writing the APC exam and ensured we had sufficient time for preparation throughout the year.

What are your future aspirations?

The CA(SA) qualification is the starting point on my journey. I aim to complete the CFA Level III exam in June 2017 and ultimately become a CFA charter holder in the near future. Additionally, I am looking for exposure to the financial industry and more specifically corporate finance and international markets. Finally, I aim to complete my MBA within the next few years before determining the next leg of my journey.

RICHARD DUFFY

How did you prepare for your exams?

Preparing for the exams required planning well before the actual five-day pre-release period. I made sure I had a room booked for myself and the team and that I stocked up on food and put my ‘out of office’ on! Importantly, I made sure that I went through my past assessments and learnt from the feedback that the markers provided. Looking back I was able to identify the mistakes I made so that I would not make them again in future.

Did you ever feel like giving up? What motivated you to stick it out?

I’ve never been one for giving up when things get tough. Seeing how happy all my friends at KPMG were the day that they passed the 2015 APC was a big motivating factor.

Six years of studying has been a long stretch, so knowing this was the final hurdle towards qualifying as a CA(SA) motivated me to stick it out.

What are your future aspirations?

I have an open mind towards my future career. Being of Irish nationality, I have the exciting opportunity of working and travelling within Europe. I am also open towards which industry I’d like to specialise in and look forward to making this decision before my articles come to an end.

What are some of your hobbies?

I’ve recently started to trade in equities and I am excited to learn a lot from my friends who have significant experience with this. After hours and on weekends I turn to photography.

I’m passionate about capturing the moment and recently acquired a film camera to add to my collection. Cape Town’s beautiful landscapes give me a great excuse to get out and explore.

GREG TOMASELLI

Did you ever feel like giving up? What motivated you to stick it out?

There were many times I stared at the towel. Especially my final undergraduate year, I had a fear of not making it into honours at Stellenbosch and right throughout honours I had a fear of failure and re-doing the torturous honours year. I kept asking myself if the CA route is the best way to pursue my aspirations. I thought of rather doing investment banking and with a CFA. Fortunately I was born a fighter and on most occasions I tend to run toward challenges and face them at the core, look them right in the eye, and deal with them. I thankfully pushed through and fought harder every day.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?

‘You think of your sword and his sword and nothing else’ – Hector in the movie Troy. Focus only on the challenge at hand.

What are your future aspirations?

I would like to be involved in the private equity space. I have a passion for scaling a great business model and turning an underperforming business around that is operating in the right industry with the wrong leadership. To be involved in listing businesses would be a great feat. Venture capitalism has also stirred an interest within me before. Creating value, improving efficiencies and transferring energy are some of my highest passions.

What are some of your hobbies?

I love reading, as well as keeping up to date with trends and future developments. I love learning new concepts or methods. Furthermore, I love the ocean and wildlife, sailing, fishing, game drives, hiking and of course sports, especially tennis and football.

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