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INFLUENCE: DIVERSITY OF THE CA(SA)

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With a wide spectrum of career avenues, the CA(SA) profession is made up of a melody of personalities. In this special report we focus on five CAs(SA) in various phases of life who despite circumstances, are leaders in their own making

 

 

 

 

 

LAWRENCE SHUTTLEWORTH TURNS 100

A pilot in World War II and uncle of entrepreneur and astronaut Mark Shuttleworth, retired CA(SA) Lawrence (Lawrie) Shuttleworth still runs his own business at the grand age of 100. Lynn Grala shares his interesting story

As the preparations went on for Lawrie Shuttleworth’s hundredth birthday, he worried that he might not reach the 100 target after all. But his friends and family tried to assure him not to.

‘We’ll have a party anyway,’ they said, but ended with: ‘Just keep on breathing!’ After that, Lawrie was determined to stay alive for the occasion.

Today, still very much alive and well, he e-mailed us to describe how his Rotary Club threw a party for him along with a crowd of well-wishers which included friends and family from as far afield as Los Angeles and Toronto.

Growing up in Grahamstown, Shuttleworth graduated from Rhodes University with a BCom majoring in Actuarial Science and went on to lecture at the Witwatersrand Technical College. Although, he says, his first choice of a career was Actuarial Science, owing to insurmountable obstacles such as overseas study, he decided to settle for accountancy. Serving his articles at Goldby Panchaud & Webber in Johannesburg, Shuttleworth qualified as a chartered accountant in August 1947. A year later he set up his own accounting and auditing practice in Kimberley.

In his spare time, Shuttleworth spent much time learning to fly. Shortly before World War II broke out in September 1939, he qualified as a pilot. He was soon called up by the South African Air Force for active duty to serve in various parts of Africa, even ending up in Italy as a commanding officer of a light bomber squadron.

During his operational flying, he was shot down twice and also made a sea crash landing due to engine failure. Amazingly he survived it all and at the end of the war had logged nearly 1 700 flying hours. He is also a recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross and held the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

‘In those early days, as a small boy,’ says his nephew, Dr Rick Shuttleworth, father of Mark Shuttleworth, ‘I used to marvel at the size and weight of the ceremonial sword in the entrance hall. How on earth did King Arthur and his knights have sword fights with such a weapon? Uncle Lawrence must be very strong! That sword was part of the memorabilia of his military service – and his war record attests to his courage and sense of patriotism.’

After the war, Shuttleworth had a long and successful career in auditing. ‘When I opened my practice in Kimberley I discovered that the profession was “unprotected” in the Cape Province and Orange Free State in that, for instance, the Receiver of Revenue accepted accounts certified by anyone at all who chose to sign as auditor. It was only several years later that the position was rectified.’

During the school holidays, he would have his son Anthony and nephew Rick assist him and his articled clerks. He hoped at least one of them might join him one day and eventually take over his practice, but remained proud as his son went on to become a lawyer who now lives in Canada, where his son Angus is a chartered accountant. His nephew Rick (Dr Richard Shuttleworth) went into medicine.

Described as a man of broad vision who saw not only the house he lived in but the city he lived in, Kimberley, Lawrie became actively involved in local politics, serving as a city councillor for 26 years. He was elected mayor of the city in 1972 and again in 1973.

With a particular interest in promoting Kimberley’s tourist attractions, Shuttleworth and his committee took over a complex of mainly derelict buildings from the De Beers company which they turned into a thriving tourist facility. The complex was officially opened by Mr Harry Oppenheimer in 1982 as the Kimberley Youth Hostel. Today it is known as Gum Tree Lodge with 200 beds and a licensed restaurant, all set in a landscaped ten hectares of partly forested land. In Lawrie’s retirement, this remains his prime responsibility and principal occupation.

‘This was where my hundredth birthday party was held!,’ he proudly adds.

Today, keeping a healthy and active lifestyle, he still lives in the same house that he and his wife Claudia moved into with their three children in 1948.

‘Claudia died twenty years ago and I have catered for myself ever since.’ He adds: ‘I retire early and am early out of bed. Breakfast is an important meal, consisting of fruit and dairy products, after which I visit Gum Tree Lodge where I walk around the extensive grounds most days of the week, except Sundays, which is probably a healthy thing to do!’

An acquaintance of his confided: ‘Isn’t it amazing that people always want to do what Lawrence wants? And yet, it does not seem to stem from a need to direct people, but rather from a love of interaction with people. He truly is a social animal, loving to chat and to make new friends, which he cherishes. He charms them all – bringing to life the saying: “People will often forget what you did, but will never forget how you made them feel.”’

In everyday life, Shuttleworth applied the lessons learned at his mother’s knee:

  • Hold the right thought and things will turn out alright
  • We either make ourselves happy or miserable. The amount of work is the same
  • The happiest people don’t have the best of everything. They just make the best use of everything that they have

‘I have tried over the years to keep it simple and, above all, to be positive!’ Author: Lynn Grala is the Editorial Administrator of Accountancy SA

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FREEDOM OF SPEECH

Learning how to beat a stutter has been a life-changing experience for two young CAs(SA) who are committed to helping others do the same. By Monique Verduyn

To become a great leader without being a great communicator is almost impossible. For a chartered accountant, the ability to communicate confidently and effectively in verbal and written form is a fundamental attribute. How else can you ask tough questions, formulate complex arguments, and develop good interpersonal relationships with peers and clients?

Having a stutter – a speech disorder in which the person repeats or prolongs words, syllables or phrases – can be a serious disadvantage for a CA(SA). It can portray a sense of hesitation, uncertainty, or faltering because, as some studies suggest, we often focus more on charisma than actual content.

Wayne Norval and Gareth Oxford, both CAs(SA) and both stutterers, struggled when they entered the workplace. But their determination has seen them overcome the challenges of a disorder that affected them so negatively they had to call themselves different names because they could not say their names when under pressure.

‘Because I have been a severe stutterer my whole life, I thought working with numbers would mean I did not have to talk to people too much,’ says Norval.

Once he completed his studies and began to do his articles, however, he realised he would have to speak to people to do his job. There was no hiding behind the desk.

‘As an overt stutterer, it was obvious to everyone I spoke to that I had a speech impediment. When my senior sent me to meet clients, I had to choose my words carefully and avoid those I knew would be difficult. That was the first major work challenge for me – being under pressure at the client’s premises, and not in my own office. Stress and self-consciousness make it extremely difficult for a stutterer to speak flowingly.’

OVERCOMING A STUTTER IS A LONG-TERM PROCESS

What was frustrating for Norval was that he had joined the McGuire Programme before starting his articles at a firm in Johannesburg, and it had helped him to overcome the worst of his impediment. The programme combines physical techniques like breathing and relaxation with mental strategies for dealing with the fear of stammering and helps people to develop an assertive attitude to the problem. It‘s an approach that focuses on eloquence as opposed to fluency.

‘I had the tools and techniques to help me control my speech and increase my confidence, and I thought was ready to tackle the Joburg business world. But in stressful situations where you have to meet new people, the fear can come back. You find yourself struggling with one or two words and then your confidence breaks down and you’re back to where you started. That is why mental attitude is so important.’

As part of the programme, stutterers have to make their recovery a priority, and that demands a lot of hard work. Because of other priorities in his life such as the new work environment and studying for his CTA, he did not pay enough attention to this and Norval’s life was severely affected. He became so depressed and his speech deteriorated so much that he went back to his hometown of Kroonstad. He turned his attention to his speech once more, committing time to the programme and paying attention to the tools and techniques he had learnt so he could regain control.

AVOIDANCE TECHNIQUES DON’T WORK FOREVER

It was through the McGuire Programme that Norval and Oxford met. As a child, Oxford had always achieved good results for maths and science. The outcome of a high school aptitude test suggested that a career in finance and accountancy would be a wise choice.

‘My folks encouraged me to become a CA(SA) because of the career options and earning prospects,’ says Oxford.

As a covert stutterer, Oxford had been able to talk in most situations, and had learnt to hide his stutter through avoidance techniques like substituting difficult words with ones that were easier to say, or otherwise simply hiding away in certain situations.

‘That can only get you so far,’ Oxford says. ‘If I had to read a text aloud or give a speech, I could not get a word out. Because university is less of a structured environment and you don’t have to speak as much, it was easier. But in the fourth year we were working in a group. I had a few sentences to say and it took me forever. The others were looking at me as if to say, “What is wrong with this guy?”’

While he was doing his articles at BDO Spencer Steward, if his cellphone rang in an open plan office, Oxford became used to going outside to answer the call. If he had a question to ask, it was easier to walk up five flights of stairs than to pick up the phone. Developing an ability to manipulate situations in his favour made life easier for him at first, and he went on to become an audit manager at BDO.

THE STRESS OF NEW ENVIRONMENTS

Although it was stressful for Oxford to manage his work life so acutely, BDO was a relatively safe environment. When he left, things became more difficult. He joined a company called Graffiti Designs as the financial manager, a position he applied for through a friend. The interview was informal and relaxed, and his speech flowed easily. Managing debtors, however, was different.

‘It was so difficult for me to call debtors that I often could not do it. I disliked that part of the job and soon left. I spent the next two to three years moving from job to job and doing contract work, always staying in the background as much as possible. But I’m not a reserved person, so it was hard. The guilt and shame made me anxious. I had to decide where I was going with my life. That was when I found out about the McGuire Programme and met Wayne.’

STUTTERERS HELPING THEMSELVES

The programme was introduced to South Africa in 2005 by Chris Meintjies, also a CA(SA). Every instructor on the programme has a stutter and has faced the same challenges as those who come for help. They are volunteers who regularly return to offer courses and to make sure they continue to improve their own speech. As instructors themselves, Norval and Oxford’s ongoing participation in the programme is what enables them to speak more freely.

‘There is no cure,’ Oxford explains. ‘You can control it so it does not dominate your life. The best way to do that is to keep working on your speech and to remain part of the programme. It’s an ongoing, lifelong process. The more you put into it, the more you get out.’

Norval agrees. ‘As Gareth has said, the programme is not a cure. I go through ups and downs and have bad days, but with the techniques of the programme and some hard work, I can get back into control. Every stutterer is different, for some stutterers different methods help, but for me, going to regular courses, and getting to grips with the tools and techniques helps get me back to where I want to be.’

Accepting that they are stutterers has helped Norval and Oxford to overcome the fear of stressful situations and has enabled them to focus on their careers instead, which has changed the way they experience life today.

SUCCESSFULLY CHANGING OLD PATTERNS

Norval is now a director at his father’s Kroonstad-based firm Norval & Co. ‘The hard work has paid off for me, and I want other stutterers to be aware that there is help out there,’ he says. ‘I was recently able to give a speech at my best friend’s wedding. Before, I could not do simple things like order food. I had to ask for Coke because I could not say “Sprite”.’

In 2009, Oxford joined McCarthy Fleet Solutions, part of the Bidvest group, as the financial manager. After his first McGuire course in March 2010, he disclosed his stutter to colleagues and was able to be honest and open with them.

‘I am now the head of financial control for Bidvest Bank and I manage a team of 30. I sit on committees and I deal with people on the phone or face-to-face. I attended an executive development programme, winning first prize for my presentation, which was unbelievable for me. This year I am on the Bidvest Academy 2015, which will mean more presentations and although the nerves are still there, I’m ready to face the fear and move on. Through the McGuire Programme, I have found a freedom that will enable me to pursue my future growth aspirations and not be held back by my speech.’

For more information on the McGuire Programme, visit www.mcguireprogramme.com

Author: Monique Verduyn

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MOTHER TO CHILD GENES

Nomfuyo Galeni, CFO of Transnet Freight Rail, the largest operating division of Transnet SOC, was an extremely proud mom in February last year when Siyabuka Isiphile Siko (née Galeni) passed her Board Exams. She tells us more

The event was a moment of pure joy for the entire family. To me, as her mother, it meant a lot, especially since I also qualified as a CA(SA) more than a decade ago, in 2001. The news of her achievement caused me to sob uncontrollably – shedding tears of joy indeed. I never dreamt that Siyabuka would choose the same profession at all. I always thought that my career robbed the children of quality time with their mother, especially at a very young age when they needed me most. It still feels like yesterday that I gave birth to her and juggled being a mom, a career lady (serving articles with Coopers and Lybrand in Mthatha – then called Umtata) and a student.

While baby Siya and myself were being attended to by the midwives at St Mary’s hospital in Umtata, I remember vividly having Accounting homework on consolidations to complete. The lecturer at the time was a Professor Prinsloo, who used to fly to Umtata from Port Elizabeth every Wednesday in order to lecture Accounting. As you can imagine, there was not much time for my baby from day one because her mommy was absolutely career focused and hungry for success. The main focus at that stage of my life was obtaining my BCom degree.

I will never forget what I had to give up in life while pursuing success. However, I would have erred if I should have allowed those pressures to get in the way of myself caring for my children. It’s a myth to think that you can only pursue your goal if and when you have the time to do so. It’s rather about striking the right balance between different responsibilities in life. While raising and nourishing my three kids (two handsome boys and my princess), I still managed to make it through varsity and eventually Board Exams – albeit after several attempts!

Sometimes, when friends came to my place to study Accounting, Siya with her small hands would scribble on our books with crayons. Little did I know then that one day she would follow in mommy’s footsteps! It still comes as a miracle to me that she has grown up and become a married woman who is ready to raise her own family and follow her own career as a chartered accountant.

I always felt she would resent my demanding profession and would for this reason follow a totally different career. So, when she informed me she was going to register for a BCom at the University of the Western Cape, I was astonished and could barely believe my ears! Hadn’t she given up on me? It was then that I realised that there is still hope. As a result, I made time during the December holidays to take the children to various places to make up for the lost bonding and to spend some quality time with them. Today, I realise that those were the best moments that I had ever shared with my family.

When her test and exam pressures caused her to ignore me totally, it was my turn to feel pushed aside. I asked myself: ‘Why did this child choose the Chartered Accountancy route? Was she mad?’ However, it all paid off on Friday, 21 February 2014. It felt as if I was waking up from a dream – not because I did not have faith in her, but rather because I am aware of how difficult it is to obtain this prestigious qualification. In this regard, I have to give God all the glory, for without Him this achievement would have been impossible.

SIYABUKA’S STORY

When I asked Siyabuka what had motivated her to follow this route, she said:

‘I know what perseverance, determination and sacrifice mean and I can confidently state, after getting to the last page of chapter one, that I am following the journey to becoming a CA(SA).

‘When I received confirmation that I had passed my final exams, I experienced a rush of joy, but most of all, a rush of relief. That journey had come to an end, a journey that would open doors to many other opportunities in my life as a black professional woman. I have no doubt in my mind that the career I chose is the best.

‘My passion for, or rather interest in, Accounting was planted by my mother, who really knew what she wanted. She truly has been my role model, being as goal driven as she was. We grew up while she studied and admired her for developing into this powerful corporate woman, something that would have seemed unlikely given her background. I admired her drive for success; her attitude is one to emulate.

‘Every parent tries to support and provide for his/her child in the best way they can. My mother ensured that my dream of becoming a CA(SA) became a reality, by giving me the best education possible. I took my undergraduate and postgraduate degrees at the University of the Western Cape. I failed my first ITC attempt and once was enough. Studying towards becoming a chartered accountant was not easy and took much from me: physically, socially and emotionally.

‘I must thank the Thuthuka programme, which has brought me this far. This programme has made me realise what a privileged generation we are – we have dedicated lecturers who are willing to sacrifice their weekends for the benefit of black students with potential. The benefits I reap today far outweigh the sacrifices made during my varsity days.

‘I don’t think it’s genetic that a mother and daughter are both CAs(SA), but I do believe I had a mother who was a great influence in my life in many ways and that is all that there is to it. I am blessed.’

INSPIRING MESSAGE

This is our message to all the young people: always stay positive, never give up as long as you are alive and have your brain, two hands and two feet. You have so much hidden potential in you; you simply need to unleash it. Also remember, with God on your side nothing will be impossible to achieve.

Finally, if you set your mind on something, make sure you grab the opportunity with both hands – like this mom and daughter did.

Author: Nomfuyo Galeni CA(SA) is CFO of Transnet Freight Rail

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LEADING CHANGE WHILE CREATING VALUE

Only about a third of change initiatives succeed and generate the intended value. By Martinette Nieuwoudt and Riaan Rudman

Organisations implement change programmes for various reasons. Whether the change programme has the objective of introducing change in the direction of company, rejuvenate corporate image, as a result of new market development, or because of a need for organisational structural or process change, the main underlying principle is to create value.

What most companies do not realise, is that only about a third of change initiatives succeed and generate the intended value. The main reason is that organisations pay a lot of attention to the form of the organisation’s design or vision of what the renewed organisation could be, but pay much less attention when it comes to the actual implementation of change.

Organisations tend to accelerate the pace of implementation without keeping in mind that good change is evolutionary and that the change process is driven by employees. Employee distraction, demoralisation and resistance to change have a significantly greater negative impact in the success of change initiatives than insufficient resources.

FOUR CRITICAL SUCCESS FACTORS

Many organisations set bold aspirations but few are able to design and execute wide-ranging change initiatives that deliver on these aspirations. In order to manage the implementation of many different improvement initiatives and to keep the organisation’s energy levels high, four critical success factors, each driven by people, must be in place.

Setting a clear theme, vision or objective

In many instances, employees find it difficult to support where the company is going because they do not really know what the organisational values are. For any team to work in the same direction, the team must know the direction that the company is moving into and feel a connection to this common vision or theme. Every organisation should therefore have three themes:

  • A static (or long-term) theme: This is derived from the value proposition of the organisation as a whole.
  • A traditional (or medium-term) theme: This drives delivery of the transformation through a clear governance structure with well-defined roles and objectives to address an imminent change in the way the business operates or responds to market demands.
  • Innovation (or short-term) themes: These aim at enlisting the active involvement of entry-level staff with new perspectives on the market and organisation formed by tapping into informal networks that play a powerful role in communication and motivation.

It is important for an organisation to remain focused on a long-term vision while being responsive to change. The static theme won’t change frequently with time, while the traditional theme may need to be revised every three or four years to remain relevant. The innovation theme must be responsive to short-term demands. Having different levels of themes will ensure opportunities be exploited, while sticking to a company’s core values. This will also help ensure managers and employees feel a strong sense of personal ownership towards the change initiative.

Most effective change initiatives are structured around a small number of initiatives with a core theme. Smaller sub-themes make it easier to implement and relatable to employees’ day-to-day activities. As one wave of initiatives gives way to the next, some themes must remain constant, helping the organisation to stay aligned with and focused on its long-term vision.

Building ownership

Programmes that encouraged employees to take initiative and contribute to change have a five times higher success rate than those with a purely top-down thrust. Employees should not only be involved in setting themes, they should be given ownership of the change initiatives and be held accountable.

Accountability is key. In many organisations management recognise that they have problems, but do not take ownership. With this mind-set, it is difficult to transform the organisation, if employees think that what they are doing themselves is working well. The culture of not facing up to issues and blaming other can be detrimental to the success of organisational redesign.

Change requires all employees to think and work differently. Companies need to look beyond the technical aspects of the change programme and the management thereof. Even the mind-sets of employees could affect its ability to meet the change goals (in other words, the soft aspects). Companies should not only consider the mind-set of frontline employees, as managers may find also change unsettling, particularly those that rose to the top in the old system. Senior executives should recognise that they have the ability to influence change, but this can only be achieved if they adopt new roles as coaches and mentors for junior employees. Moreover, the involvement of senior management should not be underestimated: change programmes can be delegated to experts with the necessary technically skills but they often lack the authority, capability, or numbers to make change stick.

Take time before implementing change

After accounting for the way culture and other organisational factors will affect the goals of a change programme, companies must put what they learn into action. Change programmes should be piloted in selected business units before being rolled out across the whole organisation. Driving change too quickly can have unwanted consequences. Pilot programmes should be rigorously monitored and evaluated so that any early warning signs can be detected and the roll-out model adjusted accordingly.

To ensure that everyone understands the change plan, frequent sessions can be made part of the managers’ duties that allow employees to celebrate success, share ideas, and measure progress in achieving the programme’s goals to ensure continuous improvement during implementation. In order to evaluate continuous improvement, a clear measurement matrix is required.

Measurement matrix

Once full-scale implementation commences, continuous improvement must be evaluated by using a clear measurement matrix of where an organisation and its employees currently are and where they want to be. Three forms of measurements/indicators are necessary: key business outcomes, operational improvements, and health indicators. These three indicators culminate in creating shareholder value.

Whichever change programme is implemented, it should make the business financially more successful. Measuring key business outcomes such as revenue, cost and risk is a priority and enables managers to verify that improvements are being realised where and when expected and to identify short comings. However, organisations should also use an integrated set of metrics that spans operational improvements (such as time saved, improved output and quality), as well as health indicators. Five health indicators that can be taken into consideration are: coaching and learning, accountability, innovation, trusted leadership, and job satisfaction. It is therefore important that the soft goals be translated into hard measurements.

These measurement matrices should tangible and tied to the three themes. This enables managers to be better placed to lead change efforts and serve as long-term role models, while having a measure to hold them accountable to. This makes linking the outcomes to each employee’s day-to-day work easier.

Successes should be communicated as they occur. When organisations celebrate small ‘wins’, it creates momentum for bigger improvements.

The roll-out model must cover six key areas:

  • Set direction and context driven by the three themes
  • Establish responsibility and allocating clear accountabilities
  • Create realistic budgets, plans and targets
  • Track performance effectively against clearly defined matrix or outcomes
  • Hold robust performance dialogues about whether the outcomes have been reached
  • Ensure actions if alternative planes are required, reward value creation, and mitigate negative consequences.

These six areas are used to evaluate progress.

CONCLUSION

If change programmes are implemented correctly, value is created. Leadership with a clear vision and a change in mind-set is required.

Authors: Martinette Nieuwoudt and Riaan Rudman CA(SA) are lecturers in the School of Accountancy at Stellenbosch University

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