Home Lead #HomoNadeli CA(SA) PROFILE: Curioser and curioser

#HomoNadeli CA(SA) PROFILE: Curioser and curioser

Tucker was born in Pretoria and he drew inspiration from his father who is an accountant and his mother who is a medical doctor. His mother fostered in Steven a wide range of interests. For example, she is a member of the South Africa Archaeological Society as well as the Astronomical Society of South Africa.

The entire family is on “permanent holiday,” according to Tucker. They travel nationally and his father instilled in him a love for the great outdoors. Camping, fishing and adventure trips formed a part of the ethos of the Tucker family.

While he was at school, Tucker tried most codes of sport – no doubt because adventure was a part of his psyche by now. He participated in athletics, chess, hockey, karate, swimming and cricket.

Tucker obliterates the stereotype that chartered accountants are dull old men with a penchant for grey suits and an obsession with numbers. He is also an avid cave explorer and his partner of seven years, Irene Krüger, also a potential chartered accountant, shares his passion and enthusiasm. Krüger completed her articles at PwC and is awaiting her registration as a CA(SA).

For Tucker the road toward his CA(SA) designation has by no means been an easy one.

“I attended Hoërskool Die Wilgers. Towards the end of my second year of studies at the University of Pretoria (UP) I started my articles. Even though I was a full-time employee, I continued to do my third year of accounting at UP. I passed the year, but my accounting marks weren’t good enough to get into Honours, so I had to redo one subject in 2010.

“Then 2011 was probably the most challenging year for me as I did my Honours through Unisa whilst working on a full-time basis. During that year two of the six people doing audits at our firm went on maternity leave and I found myself extremely busy at work as well as being in a more senior position. But the year went well and I passed my Honours. In 2012 I passed the Qualifying Examination (QE1) and completed my articles, but I failed to pass the PPE,” he explained.

It is clear that Tucker has been ‘wired’ to become a chartered accountant and this youngster has the drive to succeed in this high-performance environment.

“I always had an interest in businesses and wanted to know more about the inner workings of them, especially the finances side,” says Tucker.

In a fast-paced world and with the effort involved in surfing the information highway, the new ‘pressure valve’ is striking a harmonious work-life balance. Some may argue that this mechanism is a means to preserve one’s sanity or to strive to life a full life where work life does not succeed in consuming one. Tucker is no different when it comes to achieving this ideal.

“One of the challenges in this field of work is that it conflicts greatly with my other interests. Balancing work, studies and my many interests has always been a challenge. I have had to prioritise my interests and accept that I cannot do it all right now. For the past three years my focus has been caving. In terms of studies, the best thing is to keep up to date with studies.”

Of course, an energetic 25-year-old with virtually never diminishing energy levels seems to be almost synonymous with the Duracell bunny – almost like someone who has had an eternal Red Bull infusion, without actually consuming the product! One might ask, “Is this sustainable?” I have come to the conclusion that such passion is not dictated to by age but by individuals’ quest to define themselves. I am sure that twenty years hence, Tucker would not have deviated from the image of the 25-year-old that he is today: both the individual and the alter ego developing and entrenching themselves with the passing of time! How did this youngster defy the chartered accountant stereotype (if it still exists today) and venture from the bright fluorescent lights in an office poring over mystical numbers to the gloom of the cave to ‘sniff’ out relics of the past?

Tucker explains: “About three-and-a-half years ago Irene and I heard about a trip to Wonderfontein Cave with the Speleological Exploration Club (SEC). The cave has massive passages half filled with water and it’s a beautiful swim through them. The next trip was to Boons Cave, a leisurely stroll through large passages. The third trip was to Nico’s II cave.

“Since then I have done close to 150 trips to about 50 different caves, which included some caves that had never been explored before and some never before seen extensions to previously explored caves.

“During 2013 Pedro Boshoff had been tasked by Lee Berger to find new hominid sites. Pedro Boshoff is a member of the SEC and Lee Berger is Head of Paleoanthropology at Wits University. Realising how much work it would be to look for fossils in the hundreds of caves that we know of, Pedro asked myself and Rick Hunter to help him with this.

“Then, at the start of September, a group of cavers including myself went to the Rising Star cave system, which has always been one of my favourites. We were excited when we found a blowing hole! This could potentially lead to a new section of the cave. At the top I accidently found a crack in the floor. A few metres away from where we landed we found an old bone in the floor. There was another, and soon after we saw a tooth and then a mandible with a few teeth in it. After telling Pedro about our find we went back on the 24th of September and took photos of the fossils. On the 1st of October we showed the photos to Pedro and then to Lee Berger and he was speechless.

“Scientists were called in from across the world to work on the project. More fossils were found and we obtained more than a thousand specimens, which makes this the richest hominid site ever found in southern Africa. My mother was more excited than I was and so was Irene. Thankfully, my firm also supported my caving and other adventure activities.”

There can be no doubt the fulfilment that Tucker must have felt after this ground-breaking find. In an area where literally history is being unearthed frequently, Tucker is proud to have contributed significantly.

When this youngster finds the time, he wants to also do more kayaking. At the moment another passion is biking. He and Irene have cycled in North-West Province over a ten-day period and covered approximately 600 km, cycling from Pretoria to Groot Marico and back in December 2011. In December 2012 they cycled from Pretoria to Mokopane and then on to Tzaneen and down to Nelspruit and back to Pretoria over a 24-day period, covering a distance of approximately 1 200 km.

It may seem as though Tucker is an archaeologist, but it is clear that he is a chartered accountant who has great ambitions.

“I have been working at this firm for the past five years. As it is a small firm, official titles are not used often to identify jobs, but I would guess my position could be defined as an assistant audit manager.

“I work in small teams and with the same people every day. Everyone has a different personality type and different skills. I contribute technical knowledge of both accounting and taxation.

“I will most likely move out of auditing and will hopefully be more involved in financial management, or more specifically project management. Of course, in my mind there are many more adventures and discoveries I would like to make, and hopefully I will have the time to do those,” he says.

Tucker is also encouraging and imploring young people to work hard and to follow this career path:

“Make sure you are going into this career for the right reasons. If you don’t have a good enough reason for wanting to be a CA(SA) it will be the worst time of your life and you will end up wishing your life away.

“If this is the career for you, persevere through the hard times, there will be many. Keep focused on why you are doing this and always follow your curiosity and passions,” he says.

The message is unequivocal in conveying to young people that in order to cope with the demands of a challenging profession, one needs an outlet and to pursue it with passion. In so doing, your life will be far more fulfilling and rewarding. p

Author: Yuven Gouden.