Patrick Kubai brings a unique perspective to the profession, emphasising the importance of ethics, continuous learning and well-being. This profile article delves into Patrick’s journey, shedding light on his insights about the accounting profession, its challenges and opportunities, and the evolving landscape.
CAs(SA) with diverse experience are highly valuable. Career experience across different sectors is important for CAs(SA). It allows them to develop a wider range of skills and knowledge, makes them more adaptable and resilient, gives them a broader perspective, and advances their careers.
With a rich and diverse background that has included multiple roles and responsibilities, Patrick Kubai is a natural-born leader who has the ability to inspire teams to deliver on project objectives. He is a director at MGI RAS responsible for Assurance and Advisory Services, and the training officer and chairperson of the Quality Risk and Ethics Committee. The firm specialises in audit, accounting, taxation and advisory services, and is a member of MGI Worldwide.
Kubai’s career began at KPMG South Africa in 2010, where he served as a trainee accountant in Polokwane. In 2011, he joined the Auditor-General of South Africa, where he stayed until 2020. He followed this with a stint at the Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors in 2021. In 2022, he became an exco member of the Southern African Institute of Government Auditors (SAIGA). Kubai holds a master’s in taxation and is an expert in public sector accounting, compliance, and engagement quality reviews. He is also a pastor and spiritual leader and is actively involved in various economic empowerment, education, health, and poverty alleviation projects.
A successful career in accounting demands a multifaceted skill set and specific qualities. Among these, problem-solving, negotiation, communication, critical thinking, and sound technical knowledge stand out as essential attributes.
‘These skills and qualities are best cultivated through an inquisitive mindset, observing and learning from experienced professionals, and continuously expanding one’s knowledge,’ Kubai says. ‘Reading is key to acquiring leadership and problem-solving skills and guiding others in developing these critical attributes. As the saying goes, “experience is the best teacher”; some skills are developed through the mistakes we make and the valuable lessons out of those mistakes. The training programmes or articles that one undergoes at the early stages of one’s career also ensure exposure for accountants to develop and grow on these skills.’
Early exposure through training programmes and articles is instrumental in shaping accountants and providing opportunities for skill development. Kubai underscores the idea that experience remains the best teacher, allowing individuals to extract valuable lessons from their missteps and refine their abilities.
A PROFESSION UNDER PRESSURE
As the accounting profession evolves, it faces new challenges. For Kubai, one of the most pressing issues is the mental wellness and work-life balance of professionals in the field. Long hours, deadlines, complex problems, stress, and demanding clients or employers are normal in the profession. ‘The recent increase in mental health interventions within the profession highlights the importance of promoting a more balanced work-life dynamic to ensure the well-being of CAs(SA),’ he says.
NAVIGATING THE DOWNTURN
In the midst of economic challenges in South Africa, CAs(SA) have a unique opportunity to contribute significantly to the country’s economic recovery. The country’s economic challenges create an opportunity for CAs(SA) to play an important role in the economic recovery and, through their skills, to aid in turning around struggling businesses.
‘Our responsibilities as CAs(SA) include serving the public interest by ensuring the credibility of the country’s finances,’ Kubai says. ‘There is an opportunity to professionalise the public sector by having more CAs(SA) in government.’
Advancements in technology, including automation, robotics, and cloud computing, have ushered in an era of enhanced reporting, anytime access to vital information, and solutions to address the cost-versus-benefit dilemma often encountered in accounting reporting. In tandem with new regulations, these developments are pivotal in elevating the quality of reporting and introducing practical solutions for improving accounting practices.
‘Looking to the future,’ Kubai says, ‘I envision CAs(SA) playing an evolving role in embracing and utilising automation and artificial intelligence. We must adapt and integrate these developments into our education and training programmes. The ability to leverage automation and AI is fundamental in ensuring that we remain relevant and effective in our roles.’
Ethical decision-making and resilience are the cornerstones of a successful career in the profession. ‘Nurturing these attributes is a leadership responsibility,’ Kubai says. ‘Leaders within the profession must set an example that trickles down from the top and creates an ethical foundation for emerging accountants. Initiatives and programmes geared towards enhancing resilience and ethical decision-making will be instrumental in nurturing these qualities throughout the accounting community.’
LEARNING AND DEVELOPMENT
Kubai encourages continuous learning and adaptation among accounting professionals at MGI RAS. ‘We have a continuous professional development policy, and each accounting professional keeps a self-reflection journal where they gather self-reported insights into their experiences. I take these into consideration during performance evaluations and in the coaching sessions I have with accounting professionals under my leadership and guidance.’
Kubai’s journey serves as an inspiration and a model of professionalism, ethics, and continuous growth. His insights into the essential skills, challenges, opportunities, and evolving dynamics of the profession provide a roadmap for both aspiring and seasoned accountants who are experiencing disruption in the industry and in the world at large.