It’s important for you as a member to feel valued, supported and connected to your professional community, because you have worked hard to be a part of it. And that is exactly what the Member Engagement team wants to achieve.
The Member Engagement team is passionate about knowing that each member is fully engaged and receiving all the support that they need at any given time. However, they feel that members are not always tapping into all of the incredible opportunities that are available to them. There are so many initiatives – from hard-core business discussions to social fun – not only to ensure that you remain relevant and informed, but also that you have a sense of belonging and know that you are valued. Not to mention all the networking opportunities that will contribute even further to your success!
Being part of the SAICA community, there is certainly no shortage of networking events that you as a member can partake in. These include business breakfasts, formal dinners, golf and other sporting events and conferences (such as conferences held jointly with other institutes in Australia, the UK and America). Members can take advantage of these events to build their professional networks and identify areas of opportunity with like-minded professionals in a friendly environment.
‘Each member has unique circumstances and figuring out how best to ensure that all 54 000 members see value in our profession, irrespective of their role, industry and location, is in itself a thrill for me. It’s humbling when I meet members that I had last spoken to years ago who articulate how the impact of the work that the Member Engagement team has positively affected them. I often find members who have a challenge with SAICA or the profession the most engaging, as these honest engagements can have the biggest impact on the outcomes of my work,’ says Azhar Panchbhai CA(SA), Executive: Member Engagement.
First, let’s introduce you to the team:
Azhar is married and has three teenagers ranging in age from 13 to 19. He is passionate about making a difference to every member and the profession as a whole.
Azhar has a broad range of experience that fits his role perfectly, being active on SAICA committees as far back as 2007. His commerce and industry experience includes multinational pharmaceutical and mining companies, and he has run his own accounting and advisory firm. He has extensive experience in US-based anti-corruption and privacy legislation with his team being a finalist in the Southern African Compliance Awards. Over the last eight years the Member Engagement department has incorporated several other portfolios, including Seminars and Events, Commercial Development, Member Administration and, most recently, the Practice portfolio.
His hobbies include spending time in nature and endurance sports. He has completed several multi-day hikes in the Kruger National Park and two Ironman triathlons and has cycled from Johannesburg to Durban multiple times for charity.
Div brings with him 22 years of experience as a CA(SA). Born and raised in Bloemfontein, he is happily married with two high school-aged children, and he enjoys challenging himself in endurance sports.
Div has a passion for helping people achieve their full potential by fostering meaningful business relationships that empower others to excel in all aspects of their lives. He has a natural talent for connecting individuals from different spheres, and he thrives on social interaction.
In addition to his professional pursuits, Div is actively involved in several community groups that are dedicated to making South Africa a better place for all.
He thrives on endurance sports, triathlons (Ironman), is involved in athletics, and plays occasional rounds of golf when time permits.
Seeing people reach their full potential is his motivation!
Since 2007, Naeem has spearheaded many flagship Difference Makers initiatives for SAICA. He is absolutely dedicated and committed to the work that he does, and has an immense passion for his work and a great desire for making a difference to society within his sphere of influence. Naeem thrives on challenges and making the impossible possible.
He is married, with three sons who have played very supportive roles in his career. In his free time, he enjoys the adrenaline stuff like skydiving (jumping out of a plane at 12 000 feet) and doing the highest commercial bungee jump in the world at the Blauwkrans river.
He believes that regardless of where you come from, hard work and perseverance will bring you success. A motto that he lives by is that if you knock at the door long enough, the door is bound to open.
Bringing a diverse bouquet of over 20 years of varied professional experience to the Member Engagement team, Christiaan thrives on relationship building with the ultimate aim of positive influence.
He is a keen student of facilitation, engagement and ideation methodology, including the spheres of scenario planning, design thinking and ‘thinking assemblies’.
Based in the Cape Town office, Christiaan is a keen hiker and sports enthusiast and loves experiencing different social and cultural environments with his wife and 11-year-old son.
Ciara has been a CA for over 20 years, with experience ranging from auditing to banking, retirement funds and technical audit. She has had the privilege of representing the South African audit regulator in France, the US, Zambia, Kenya, Zimbabwe and Mozambique, and has been involved with SAICA committees for some 15 years. Ciara cares about her members and loves one-on-one engagement with them, obtaining a deep understanding of member needs and helping to address these, thereby being a Difference Maker for the profession.
She is an advocate for gender diversity and neuro diversity both in the workplace and in the school environment, showing her strong belief that everyone deserves an equal opportunity to succeed.
Ciara is a single mother with three wonderful teenagers (send wine …). Her hobbies, an unlikely pairing for someone in this industry, showcase her diverse interests and her ability to think outside of the box: she has an extensive collection of antique glass bottles, crochets elaborate projects, loves adventure sports (zip-lining, abseiling, white-water rafting and gorge swinging), and spends a month every year with family in the Namib Desert.
Bruce Freer CA(SA), Regional Executive for International Members
Bruce’s passion is to ensure that the interests of all the International Region members (that is, all members living and working outside South Africa’s borders) are safeguarded and optimised. Bruce’s experience includes working for organisations in South Africa, Germany and the UK.
During his career, he spent a total of 17 years with three of the Big 4 firms in various roles, including seven years as a financial services partner. Outside the profession, he has had senior level roles (including managing director positions) with companies in various sectors (fashion retail, property (sales and lettings management), sports and event management, and also import and distribution).
He has also operated as an independent consultant, advising businesses on a range of issues (including performance and profitability improvement, enhancement of internal control and strategy advisory). For nine years he chaired the audit committee of an international voluntary association headquartered in London.
Denise is the Project Director for Practice. She joined SAICA in April 2023 after a 14-year tenure in auditing academia and six years with her own small practice as a CA(SA) and has therefore developed a deep understanding of the unique needs and challenges faced by small-business owners.
Denise has a passion for interpersonal connection and is motivated by a sense of purpose to make a positive impact that has a ripple effect. She is very excited to lead the Practice portfolio within the Member Engagement team and to help by being a Difference Maker within the practice environment.
Denise lives in the Western Cape with her two sons and enjoys spending time on her eccentric and creative hobbies which include painting, sewing, gardening, cooking and golf. She is currently working on her next art exhibition featuring watercolour Nguni cattle.
SO, WHAT’S IN IT FOR YOU?
By taking advantage of these networking, professional development, resources, information, and volunteering opportunities offered by SAICA, members can potentially enhance their career opportunities and achieve greater professional success.
In short, every member can find a suitable engagement platform from the opportunities available to be a difference maker, be it through developing younger members, influencing the profession and the country, or through their own development.
To date, here are some of SAICA’s most successful events:
- Economic Recovery Conference
- Women in Leadership series
- New member events
- Mentoring programmes
- Career networking event
- Mental Wellness series
- Young CA networking events the Spring and Summer Conferences
Read more details about SAICA events here
And click here to view upcoming events: https://www.saica.org.za/events-learning/events.
Some exciting upcoming events that you can get involved with:
- Eastern Region: Business Breakfast – Future-ready economy: 2023 Trends, 13 June
- Pretoria District Association Golf Day, 26 July 2023
- Eastern Region Annual Dinner – We advance by uplifting others, 2 August
- Northern Region Spring Conference, 13−15 September 2023, Zebula Golf Estate and Spa, Bela-Bela
- Central Region Summer Conference, 20−22 October 2023, Alpine Heath Resort, Drakensberg
- District events
- Coffee Conversations
- 2023 Wellness Check-in series
- Building back stronger: key dimensions for a resilient economic recovery
Upcoming topics include:
- 31 May: Leading for wellbeing
- 13 July: Rethinking disruption and how to improve productiveness in the workplace.
- 20 Sept: The impact of mental health on the economy.
- The webcasts are complimentary to members, associates, trainees, staff, and non-members.
Say our member:
‘SAICA events are informative and provide you with the skills, knowledge and competencies to remain relevant in a fast-changing world, and the webcast functionality is a bonus for us in the outlying areas. The networking events provide you with a platform to build meaningful business relationships with fellow members and other business partners’ − Jolene de Villiers (BAN Partner in Hennenman)
‘Exceptionally successful entrepreneurship event that highlighted that opportunities abound even in uncertain times’ − Refiloe Lehaba ( Founder and Chief Executive, Lehaba Holdings)