FEATURE: TOP ITC CANDIDATES 2016

MEGAN DE VRIES

What inspired you to pursue a career as a CA(SA)?

The chartered accounting profession is one of versatility and change. The ability to learn about many different industries, become an entrepreneur, work in established businesses or grow in the auditing profession are just a few of the opportunities that the CA(SA) designation provides.

These opportunities coupled with the potential of international travel and the fact that the industry is constantly changing requiring self-development and adaptability is what attracted me to the profession.

What best prepared you for the ITC examination?

My preparation began in my first year. I made a conscious decision to ensure I understood all the concepts of the various subjects throughout each year of my studies. I focused on long-term memory retention and made an effort to understand rather than to learn concepts off by heart.

The effort of my lecturers at the University of Pretoria, the many practice questions and the long hours of studying all culminated in my success in the ITC exam. Constant preparation rather than short-term ‘cramming’ is what worked for me. Consistency is key.

What mantra do you live by?

‘If you are going to do something, you might as well do it properly.’ When I was 13, my mother spoke these words while I was complaining about completing my homework. Since that day, these words have resonated with me and I apply them to all tasks and challenges I take on.

I believe they have guided me to always try my best and that if one’s best is always given, one cannot have any regrets.

Where do you see yourself in five years time?

As a first-year assurance trainee, I am exploring the different opportunities that I am exposed to. With more experience, I hope to identify my niche in the CA(SA) industry. In five years’ time, I hope to have my CA(SA)

 JYOTI MAHARAJ

Who inspired you to pursue a career as a CA(SA)?

It was my father who encouraged me to become a CA(SA) as he pointed out that you can work in any industry and in any part of the world. I was initially torn between becoming a doctor or a chartered accountant, but his advice sealed it for me.

What best prepared you for the ITC examination?

The majority of my ITC preparation was done during my CTA year at UKZN, where my lecturers offered me invaluable guidance. Working hard consistently during the year meant that when it was time to prepare for ITC in December I could focus mainly on attempting questions. In addition to questions, I also took some time brush up on my conceptual understanding of some sections that I felt I hadn’t yet mastered, like IFRS 15.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

The advice my mother always repeats to me: if you work hard and stay humble, you will be successful in anything that you do.

What are some of your hobbies?

I enjoy being outside, reading, listening to Hindi music, meditating and anything that will get me laughing, be it watching a movie or spending time with family and friends.

KATE STEPHENS

What best prepared you for the ITC examination?

Perhaps counter to expectations, it was the hours spent outside the library that best placed me to perform in the exam. At the beginning of GDA, a friend observed: ‘It’s a marathon not a sprint’ and so I tried to maintain a balance outside of academics – in particular setting the Durban half-Ironman triathlon as a goal during the June study break. It meant that I could wake up on a Monday positive about the week ahead as I had a significant ‘other purpose’ which meant life wasn’t solely about sitting at a desk. In-between trail runs, bike rides and coffee stops, weekends away with friends and post- test parties I never felt like GDA was consuming my life.

That being said, clearly a lot of study hours were necessary – and consistency, efficiency and a routine were important. Making time to summarise and review my work was a critical part of my learning process – even when the work was fast-paced. Keeping on top of weekly work requirements was key.

What mantra do you live by?

I’ve had a quote on my wall since my first year: ‘Be in love with your life, every minute of it.’ To me, this means being the best that I can be in all aspects of my life – it encourages positivity and highlights that being “present” in each minute is essential.  To love every minute, I need to have a sense of purpose and this has always been supplemented by close relationships with friends and family – a group of warm, dynamic people.

What are some of your hobbies?

I love running and while studying in Cape Town enjoyed the beautiful trail running routes and sea-facing promenade. I also really enjoy healthy cooking and pouring over recipes – though some often doubt my abilities in the field!

One of my biggest passions is travel, I’ve been extremely fortunate to travel to all seven continents, including a lot of camping in southern Africa. I am an advanced scuba diver, which adds another dimension to exploring the countries I visit.

ROBERT EDWARDS

What inspired you to pursue a career as a CA(SA)?

Although I took accounting for matric I wasn’t really interested in it (or auditing) as a career at the time. Then after returning from completing a business finance degree in the USA, an audit firm in Pietermaritzburg, Colenbrander Inc, invited me for an interview and the partners persuaded me to work towards becoming a CA(SA). I started my articles there and began studying through Unisa. It sounded like a good idea at the time and it seems like it was the right decision!

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received, or lesson you’ve learned?

The best lesson I’ve learned is that as some doors close you simply turn the handle to open others. I went to the States to try to make a go at becoming a pro golfer. Unfortunately that never worked out but I am very happy with where I am in life at the moment and am looking forward to the future. The CA route is a long and difficult journey but it’s crucial to just get on with it and keep going. In school one would never have thought that I would receive such a major academic honour, but with dedication and passion, anything is possible.

What are some of your hobbies?

I am hugely passionate about sport. In the past few years I’ve played league squash, golf, cricket and hockey, and also competed in a few mountain bike races. This is one of the benefits of living in KZN; the activities are endless. More recently I’ve started surfing and after bailing out a few times I’m getting the hang of it. You can catch a wave with me at South Beach in Durban; I’m definitely not ready for Jeffreys Bay just yet.

JUSTIN LOGIE

What best prepared you for your ITC examination?

Having a break following the end of the CTA year was the most important component of preparation. Prior to the exams, I tended to focus on high-level application and brushed up on some of my weaker areas. While I did do a couple of past papers, this was just to keep myself exam ready (and sane).

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

There are three options here, in no particular order: the first is to be in management consulting, preferably somewhere in the private equity space; the second, to be operationally involved in a global (solvent) airline, and the third, to be studying towards a PhD and undertaking extensive and ambitious research at my alma mater alongside the eccentric that is Warren Maroun (providing I survive my master’s).

Best lesson you’ve learned?

Probably the most important lessons I’ve learned have come on the road, mostly when travelling alone. It’s not so much about learning to be self-sufficient but rather to grow comfortable with oneself. Learning how to laugh at oneself is also crucial. Also, the people one meets often have fascinating insights which really only come after years of travelling to strange (and sometimes not altogether pleasant) places, and these small lessons are all necessary building blocks towards becoming more aware and understanding of what society needs in order to become a better place.

DUSAN ECIM

What/who inspired you to pursue a career as a CA(SA)?

I always had a passion for maths and what was called Economic and Management Sciences from as far back as primary school. Throughout high school my passion for business grew and I knew that becoming a CA(SA) was the best manner in which to grow as a businessman and develop skills that would enable me to excel in the business world and grow as a person while trying to make a difference in the world and change it. All of my teachers along the way helped me to achieve this goal and my family also supported me in this career path.

What best prepared you for the ITC examination?

The key aspects were that I had prepared well for my honours year and was well drilled in all subjects. Doing many past papers under strict time pressure helped me to prepare for the day and be mentally strong to tackle the challenge.

What mantra do you live by?

I strongly believe in setting goals for yourself and believing in them with everything you have and striving to achieve every goal in your life. Being positive and happy are the main aspects to live your life by.

What are some of your hobbies?

I have a huge passion for sport especially rugby and you will always find me following the latest Bulls or Springbok game. I love travelling the world and seeing and experiencing what different environments and cultures are like. I enjoy reading, writing and following as many TV series as possible.

KAYLEIGH GREENSLADE

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Throughout my life I have received a lot of advice, but the best came from my parents. They always told me to do my best. Although this is a simple piece of advice, there is nothing that has helped me more. Throughout life people will place pressure on you, be it you family, your peers, your boss or yourself, but as long as you’ve done your best and given it your all, you can be confident in your work and have no regrets.

What mantra do you live by?

Work hard in silence and let success make the noise. The number of people who know how much work you are doing and everything that you have to get done does not help you to actually complete that work. Putting your head down and focusing on the work at hand will help you achieve success.

What are some of your hobbies?

I really enjoy baking and cake decorating. I find the creativity involved in baking and decorating cakes a welcome change from the thinking that is required in our field of study. I also enjoy going to the gym when I get the chance. I find that exercise is a great stress reliever and it helps to clear my mind when I’m worrying about an upcoming assessment.

MICHAEL MILLS

What/who inspired you to pursue a career as a CA (SA)?

Since I was young I have always had a passion for business and I saw the chartered accountancy profession as the best way to educate and further myself into the business world.

What best prepared you for the ITC examination?

I believe my hard work from day one in the first year all the way to honours really stood me in good stead for the ITC. Also all the effort and assistance the lecturers provided me with throughout my studies and especially throughout honours.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received, or lesson you’ve learned?

The best lesson I learned was after failing my first class test in the first year. I realised that failure does not mean I am a failure – it just means I need to change something to reach my goals. For me, that was one of the best things that could have happened to me.

What mantra do you live by?

I believe to always give everything my utmost best and let God do the rest.

What are some of your hobbies?

I enjoy share trading and reading up on companies as well as playing a variety of sports and spending time with my family and friends.

MEGAN MC GREGOR

What are some of your hobbies?

In my spare time I love to read books from a range of different genres. I also enjoy spending time with friends and family, which normally always includes a delicious meal. Finally I love to get in some exercise playing action soccer.

What best prepared you for the ITC?

I feel my lectures at the University of Johannesburg best prepared me for ITC. They gave me a thorough understanding of the syllabus and, most importantly, really motivated and inspired me to study hard.

In addition to great lecturers, I feel that I had acquired a really great study technique which I was able to perfect through my undergraduate years.

Best lesson learned?

This lesson actually came from one of my lecturers at the University of Johannesburg who used to say, ‘Stay in your own lane.’ I took this to mean that one must never judge one’s goals and accomplishments based on those of others, as this could to feelings of inadequacy.

Everyone is different and goals you set for yourself should always be celebrated no matter how they compare to others.

GREGORY ROWAN

What/who inspired you to pursue a career as a CA(SA)?

The trusted and respected reputation that the profession and its members hold in the local and international business community is what drew me towards becoming a CA(SA). At the end of high school, I decided that I would join my brother Craig in studying towards the profession to give myself the skills and experience required to enter into a diversity of industries and roles once qualified.

What best prepared you for the ITC examination?

My two years spent as a financial reporting tutor at the University of Cape Town’s College of Accounting was fantastic preparation. The experience of preparing tutorials and fielding curveball questions from a group of younger students on a weekly basis taught me to think on my feet and apply my knowledge when under pressure. This boosted both my ability and confidence in answering the unpredictable and challenging questions set in the ITC examination.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received, or lesson you’ve learned?

The greatest lesson I’ve learned is to set a goal in every endeavour and to strive towards achieving it. Without a goal, there is no means to measure your performance or progress and you won’t be able to reach your full potential.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

As a qualified CA(SA) working in financial services in South Africa. Throughout the next three years of my training contract at Nedbank, I will be exposed to many facets of corporate finance and investment banking. I plan to fully utilise this opportunity by gaining experience and knowledge in as many areas as possible, discovering both my interests and my strengths.

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