The Thuthuka Bursary Fund has made a significant impact since its inception, enabling many students to pursue their dreams of becoming chartered accountants. Charlotte Segage, a whiz at maths and accounting, was among the first 104 students to benefit from the programme in 2004 when it was launched at the University of Limpopo in collaboration with the University of Johannesburg.
In 2009, after varsity, Charlotte joined the office of the Auditor-General in Limpopo, completing her articles while studying part-time for her CTA. After four attempts at the CTA, she almost gave up hope, but she qualified as a CA(SA) in 2015 after passing the APC exams in 2014. From trainee auditor she rose through the ranks at the AGSA and was a senior manager when she left in 2021.
Flexible working hours, personal development and more client contact are some reasons why CAs(SA) choose to work at smaller firms. Charlotte, a director at Cashew Registered Auditors, enjoys the challenge and the thrill of having to hustle for clients and working mostly with SMEs.
Acknowledging the challenges she faced early on and how she had to keep going despite failing, she knows the power of having the right mentality and the will to succeed. One of her favourite quotes is by author JK Rowling, who said: ‘Rock bottom became a solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.’ That’s also why she has empathy with young professionals.
‘A highlight of my work has been witnessing the positive impact I’ve had on the careers of my trainees,’ she says. ‘Their gratitude and acknowledgement of the guidance I provide has been immensely rewarding. I am big on people, so knowing that I had even a small impact on someone’s career is the biggest reward for me. I have a passion for learning and development, which is why my partner and I are working hard to ensure that our firm becomes a SAICA training office and contributes to growing the number of CAs(SA) in the country.’
Charlotte’s time at the AGSA exposed her to different spheres of government and made her realise that despite corruption in the public sector, there are those who want to work to deliver services to the public. ‘All they need is guidance to ensure proper governance and clean administration. That’s why after leaving the AGSA, I joined the board of directors at the South African National Space Agency (SANSA), where I also serve as the chairperson of the audit and risk committee.’
Although being a CA(SA) opens doors, she says, the onus is on you to prove that you are the best bet. ‘This approach gave me the courage to leave a well-paying job and become an entrepreneur. My journey has not been an easy one, but when you have the right qualifications and experience, it’s all systems ready. I overcome challenges through self-motivation and my motto is, “As long as I am alive, I have a chance to turn things around.”’
Although she has a busy schedule, she picks up her boys from school every afternoon, talks to them about their day, and gets dinner going while they play with their baby sister. ‘My role as a mother is extremely fulfilling, and I learn more about myself every day through raising my children.’
When she’s not being a mom, she’s ticking off her travel and adventure bucket list. ‘Whenever I feel like I am losing control, I do something crazy like bungee jumping or skydiving. Somehow, that adrenaline rush always puts me back in charge of my life and helps me make the right decisions.’