Zimkita Mabindla, 44-year-old CA(SA) and current Partner at KPMG, has faced many challenges in her professional and personal life and is still moving forward. She is career driven in her professional life and a proud single provider and parent to her deep-thinking, intelligent 15-year-old daughter in her personal life
Microlearnings from CAs(SA) over 40
The question is: ‘What kept Zimkita moving forward?’
The answer is: ‘Curiosity = reframing reality = mental resilience!’
Mental resilience and qualifying as a CA(SA) at the age of 30
Many CAs have, despite challenges, relentlessly pursued their desire to become CAs(SA). Zimkita Mabindla is proud to be one of those. The usual seven-year journey to become a CA(SA) took her twelve years, but the rewards of curiosity, dedication, reframing her reality and overcoming her challenges took her from a small township in Transkei to a Partner at an audit firm. She describes her journey:
Giving up on my CA(SA) dream was never an option that I gave myself. After matric I was not able to enrol at a university due to lack of funds thus instead of going the normal route, I chose the most viable alternative, even though the journey was longer. I worked full time as a creditor’s clerk, bookkeeper, banking clerk and accountant and mostly studied part-time. I had to first complete a diploma and build my CA(SA) path from there by studying for my degree through UNISA.
While I studied for my UNISA degree, I was a trainee at EY (Johannesburg) and my salary was lower as I reached certain qualification milestones later. I passed my CTA on my first attempt. I attempted Board I (ITC) twice and failed, got married, attempted it for a third time and passed. Three days before writing Board II, my dad passed away due to diabetes. I still chose to write, even though I was seven months pregnant at the time. In February 2006 I gave birth to my beautiful daughter, passed Board II (APC) and qualified as a CA(SA).
While serving articles, I worked with the most authentic leaders of the firm who made a significant impact on my life and instilled in me the desire of the kind of leader I wanted to be − to empower others and to look beyond positions and accolades. I wanted to be a leader like them.
For me − a young girl from Transkei, born with absolutely no privileges, educated by Bantu Education − to be able to provide the life I have provided to my daughter over the last 15 years, even on career breaks, is a testament to how our CA(SA) brand can deliver sustainability in our society.’
Mental resilience as a single divorced mother
We cannot separate personal challenges from our professional lives. Zimkita has experienced two critical incidents in her personal life over the last thirteen years. She again embraced it with curiosity and dedication, reframed her reality, overcame the challenges and sets an example of a parent who values mental resilience:
The first critical incident was six years ago when I got divorced. After eleven and half years of marriage, I had to cut ties with a person I had considered to be my best friend. I proudly carry deep scars from my divorce and share this because I learned that sometimes the first critical step to wellness, especially for young women, is to leave a situation that has become detrimental to one’s purpose. Why is this important? Society instructs young women early on that it is a sign of love to compromise and sacrifice. However, this should be reciprocal in a marriage. It is therefore important for your wellness to find out what your purpose is in life is and to not neglect it because of one-directional compromise and sacrifice.
The second incident was four years ago when my daughter was diagnosed with scoliosis − a medical condition in which a person’s spine has a sideways curve and it causes extreme pain. Before the diagnosis she was excelling academically, an A-team netball player, and a socialite among her friends. However, the physical, emotional, and mental strain that scoliosis had on my daughter was heart-breaking for me to see. The losses accumulated year after year as she had to work through our divorce as well. I made the decision to take a career break of 10 months to support her.
She nobly absorbed many losses, however, I would be amiss if I do not mention her tremendous growth and development during this time. She has become more anchored in who she is and who she will be in the future. In the mornings when I wake her up, I can see she is in pain, but she pushes through, pulls herself out of bed and lives her life to the fullest! This condition has enhanced her empathy for others. She is the family member who writes paragraphs for birthdays, wedding anniversaries and all other life events. Her fighting spirit to enjoy every moment inspires me every day!
Dealing with chronic illness in children is hard, costly, and sometimes heart-breaking. However, the lesson they teach us is life chose our children. How they and we live life, is our choice and a mindset!
I have zero regrets, as these two incidents have shaped me in ways that I could not have ever imagined.
Mental resilience of our new generation CAs(SA)
Zimkita is enthusiastic about the health and wellbeing of young people in the accountancy profession. What she loves most about her job in an audit firm, is the access and visibility to young people:
I’ve had a diverse career path, however in every role, I’ve been fortunate to work with brilliant young minds in our profession. It is energising, empowering and helps one to be future focused. Collaborating with our future leaders and being able to hear and anchor their views and trying to shape mindsets with my own experiences is priceless.
These young people bravely work long hours daily to ensure that the integrity and credibility of our financial markets is maintained – thus serving the public. This is heart-warming to observe, and I am proud to be a part of this profession.
The impact of the CA(SA) brand permeates all aspects of our lives, not only for us individually, but for generations to come. Zimkita’ s professional and personal journey is a testament to how qualifying as a CA(SA) not only changed her quality of life but has also ensured a better life for her daughter. Our CA(SA) brand is a symbol of possibility, hope, and sustainable development.
Zimkita’s 5 lessons learnt on mental health and wellbeing
1 If you did not raise someone, you are not responsible for how they view the world
‘In my twenties, I spent a lot of time agonising over people’s behaviours. I spent my energy trying to figure out what I could have done to change these situations.
‘I wish I had learned not to internalise their attitudes, but to focus on what I can control, which was investing in my personal confidence’
2 The mental health of our children is more important than financial success
‘I do not measure success by how much I earn, but by the experiences I can have with my daughter and the resulting growth and development from those experiences. Financial losses can be restored but mental losses cannot!’
3 Never, ever give up
‘As human beings, life could be unfair. It might take you longer to win, but I have learnt that giving up is not a viable option
4 What matters in life is that you play the cards you were dealt with well
‘Like me, you might not have received the best cards to play the life game. Understand your circumstances. Devise and implement your strategy using the cards you were given. and eventually the cards will pay off’
5 The management of one’s health and wellbeing stops with oneself!
‘If you are not the one who is sick, taking the medication is futile. If the problem does not lie with you, neither does the solution’
Adel du Plessis CA(SA), MHEd (cum laude)