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INFLUENCE: Top 10 ITC candidates

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Honours is awarded to candidates who achieved a score of 75% or higher for the Initial Test of Competence (ITC). The Top 10 candidates all achieved honours in this examination.

may 4

BYRON FORSBERG

How did you prepare for your exams?

The University of Pretoria provided me with the best preparation for the ITC throughout my four years of studies. However, by the end of my CTA year I was exhausted and took a break over the Christmas holidays to re-energise for my January study programme. This gave me the opportunity to reflect on the work and obtain a big picture of the curriculum. I didn’t go into the exam aiming for a Top 10 place, but rather with a clear mind, not allowing stress to cloud my judgement.

Did you ever feel like giving up? What motivated you to stick it out?

Yes! Obtaining my degree and preparing for the ITC was the longest and toughest journey of my life. But I knew that becoming a CA(SA) would open many doors for me and that the hard work, time and sacrifices would be worth it.

How did you celebrate?

I attended the KPMG party and celebrated the results with my friends who shared this journey with me and who also passed the ITC.

What is the best advice you have ever received?

Work smarter, not harder! That’s the best advice I received for studying. You know more than you think, so rather focus on the work you don’t know than repeat the same work over again.

What are your future aspirations?

During my articles with KPMG I hope to be exposed to as many different businesses as possible to prepare me for my career after qualifying. After passing my second Qualifying Exam and becoming a CA(SA), I look forward to becoming a business leader and maybe one day starting my own company.

What are some of your hobbies?

I believe that the key to being successful is trying to maintain a balanced lifestyle. So in my spare time I enjoy anything that can get my endorphins flowing. I love all sports, going to gym and spending time with my friends.

MICHELLE GLOVER

What/who inspired you to become a CA(SA)?

I’m not one yet! But seriously, no one inspired me to become a CA(SA). When it came to deciding what to study at varsity, it seemed that becoming a CA(SA) would be the most broad-based qualification and one that would give me the most opportunities when it came around to finding a decent job. I just knew I wanted to work with numbers. And I’ve heard the pay cheque isn’t bad …

How did you prepare for the exams?

I’m probably not the best person to ask. I always have a basic idea of what I need to do in the time I have and then I just prioritise. We started preparing for ITC at the beginning of the PGDA year, so unfortunately I have no short-term secrets for exam preparation. I just made sure I didn’t leave everything to the last minute.

Did you ever feel like giving up? What motivated you to stick it out?

Not really. I think not working in the evenings and taking time off to go out and cycle at least twice a week allowed me to be able to study consistently and not get sick of it. If I did feel I was getting tired of studying, I would take a break and try again later.

How did you celebrate?

Well, it all started with some friends and a bottle of champagne …

What is the best advice you have ever received?

My great aunt always tells me, ‘don’t sweat the small stuff’ and my dad always says that all you can ever do is just to try your best. So that’s exactly what I try to do – focus on the important things in life and always try my best.

Knowing what you know now, would you have done anything differently?

I obviously studied too much. Having recently started work, I would have liked to have taken the time to understand how what I was studying at the time would relate to the real world – like effective dates of IFRS standards. Theory is very different to reality.

MATTHEW LEGG

How did you prepare for your exams?

The hard work had been done in my honours year, so time would have been wasted on reading notes or practising questions – instead I addressed my high-level conceptual understanding of and approach to the content – discussing and debating hypotheticals and interpretations with some fellow students. Special thanks to David Ferronha, my January flatmate, for sharing his whiskey and inspiring me to focus when I just wanted to gallivant and explore Johannesburg.

What is the best advice you have ever received?

To stop worrying and fretting about the future, what could have or should have been, or regretting the ‘mistakes’ of my past. The less worry, fret, stress and regret, the more time available for actually doing things.

What are some of your hobbies?

Stalking marine life through some good old snorkelling, running relatively long distances, teaching myself to play the guitar, freelance graphic design, wine tasting (or rather wine consumption) and cooking and eating copious amounts of food.

How did you celebrate?

In style! With a bottle of champagne, my closest friends and colleagues, and a complete lack of inhibitions. And then I bought myself a fancy new watch – something to act as a constant reminder and symbol of this achievement.

Knowing what you know now, would you have done anything differently?

Yes, instead of treating the University of Cape Town mostly as an ’education’, I would have taken every opportunity available to give back to the community, play sport, meet new people, learn a new skill. Everything I was afraid of because it was outside of my comfort zone – those are the things I should have spent the most time doing. Post-student life just doesn’t present those opportunities on a silver platter the way university life did.

What are your future aspirations?

To be my own boss, to never lose out because of money, to meet an incredibly beautiful, down-to-earth, intelligent woman, to never benefit at the expense of someone or something else, and to give ten times as much back to this world as it has given me.

 

PIA LOURENS

How did you prepare for your exam?

The most important thing to remember when preparing for the exam is that setting up a studying timetable is crucial, but even more important is the fact that you need to abide by it! If you know what you need to study and when it needs to be done, it takes away the stress of forgetting to revise a chapter or not finishing in time! Always remember that the ITC is not something you study for in a month or two, but rather something you have been preparing for during your entire time at university.

Did you ever feel like giving up?

Yes! This is part of the process. If a goal in not hard to reach, it usually isn’t worth it! Friends, family, lecturers and, most of all, my faith in the Lord kept me going.

What is the best advice you have ever received?

The gifts of the Lord are but that: gifts. Use it so that it may be a blessing to the world.

How did you celebrate?

PWC held a function for the trainees to celebrate their results. It was a great experience to celebrate my success, together with that of my peers!

Would you have done anything differently?

No. I am extremely blessed to have made it this far along the CA(SA) career path. If you give it your all the first time around, that will always be enough.

Who inspired you to become a CA(SA)?

I experience inspiration as an on-going process. I first developed my love for Accounting at Girls High School in Paarl, where I received loads of help from teachers who saw the potential CA(SA) in me. This took me to Stellenbosch University, where lecturers had such an intense interest in the skills development of students that one could not help but be motivated! Today I am fortunate enough to work alongside knowledgeable CAs(SA) who keep inspiring me every day.

KATRIN ERB

What/who inspired you to become a CA(SA)?

I did some vacation work at Grant Thornton in Windhoek when I was in Grade 10. I’ve been pretty much dead set on this career path ever since.

How did you prepare for your exams?

I pretty much stuck to my methods from university. I made sure I had the theory down first and then just focused on questions. I also made sure to write down everything I learned from questions.

How did you celebrate?

My colleagues took me out for lunch and drinks. We had a great time!

What is the best advice you have ever received?

‘The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.’ Stephen Hawking

What are your future aspirations?

For now I am focusing on learning as much as possible from my articles. What I’ll do after that I don’t know yet – there are just so many opportunities.

What are some of your hobbies?

I really enjoy reading and yoga, as well as cooking and baking.

ANNEMIE ROSSOUW

What/who inspired you to become a CA(SA)?

Both my parents are chartered accountants and I was thus fortunate to witness and be exposed to the many opportunities offered by a career as a CA(SA). In particular the diversity of roles offered in both the profession and commerce and industry attracted me.

How did you prepare for your exams?

First I focused my efforts on the fundamentals and only then on areas I felt less confident about – those areas that I consider to be my blind spots. To remain fresh I balanced my studies by exercising and relaxing. Although not always successful, I attempted to take a complete break from my studies over weekends.

Did you ever feel like giving up? What motivated you to stick it out?

Everyone experiences ups and downs and becomes despondent when you struggle and do not see immediate results of your efforts in those areas where you work hard to improve. I was fortunate to have a good support structure within my circle of friends, family and co-students.  It helps when you have people who understand what you are going through and who believe in you in those moments where you need it most to keep you going.

What is the best advice you have ever received?

My swimming coach taught me that it does not matter how bad your start is, it is about staying the course and ending like a pro.

Learn from the mistakes that you make in the beginning to ensure you are at your best when the big moments and opportunities present themselves.

Knowing what you know now … would you have done anything differently?

As I have achieved a positive outcome it would probably be the wrong thing to change anything. Having said that, the advice that I would offer is that the outcome of the ITC for me was built around my work ethic during the preceding year.

What are some of your hobbies?

I love spending time outdoors and with friends. I especially enjoy the trail running around Cape Town on weekends and exploring the lesser known amenities of Cape Town.

NICOLAI PUGLIA

What/who inspired you to become a CA(SA)?

I’ve always been passionate about business. Chartered accountants are renowned to be outstanding business men/women – my uncle being one of them. It therefore seemed like the obvious choice.

How did you prepare for your exams?

Two weeks of past papers, and plenty of them.

Did you ever feel like giving up? What motivated you to stick it out?

Not seriously, although I did have to consistently remind myself to do my best – to do everything with all my heart as if for the Lord.

How did you celebrate?

I’m saving my celebrations for when my articles are done and dusted!

What is the best advice you have ever received?

I was told once that the pain of discipline is nothing compared to the pain of regret. Sometimes you just have to grit your teeth and work hard. That said, the more you aim to understand what you’re doing and why you’re doing it, the less of that you’ll need to do.

What are your future aspirations?

I would love to one day be involved in a drive towards good governance practices.

SUZAAN VAN DEN BERG

What/who inspired you to become a CA(SA)?

My dad inspired me to become a CA(SA). When I had less ambitious career choices in mind, he helped me to see my potential.

How did you prepare for your exams?

I prepared by consistently studying throughout my CTA year. During the period before the exam, I spent most of my time practising questions under exam conditions but also made time to revise technical knowledge. I took the last few days before the exam off in order to relax and mentally prepare for the ITC.

Did you ever feel like giving up? What motivated you to stick it out?

Yes, absolutely. Honours was a big challenge for me. I was able to remain motivated through the support of my family, friends and fiancé. The lecturers at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University also played a big role in keeping me focused and motivated. A good support structure is definitely essential.

How did the company support you in this journey?

Deloitte supported us financially by paying our exam fees and for a preparatory course of our choice. The Port Elizabeth office also allowed us to write the mock exam at the office under exam conditions, which was very good practice for the actual exam.

What are your future aspirations?

My first priority is qualifying as a chartered accountant. After that, I hope to further my studies and specialise in taxation.

What is the best advice you have ever received?

Whatever you decide to do, do it to the best of your ability.

EBRAHIM MAKDA

What inspired you to become a CA(SA)?

Growing up in my father’s business, I always had an inclination towards commerce and trade.

When choosing a degree to complement this passion, I discovered that with over 70% of the JSE’s top 100 CEOs being chartered accountants, this profession was the premium choice in equipping me with the skills needed to excel in this line of work.

How did your company support you in this journey?

KPMG runs a mentorship programme. Upon signing with the firm, I was assigned a mentor who constantly kept in touch with me and provided immense guidance and encouragement.

What are some of your hobbies?

I enjoy playing sport, especially cricket and soccer. I also enjoy relaxing and hanging out with my friends.

What is the best advice you ever received?

You are the driver of your own career. We ourselves determine if we succeed or not by making sure we couple the talent God has given us with hard work and determination.

What motivated you to stick it out?

Consistently reminding myself of the end goal and what I am working towards, together with the support of family and friends, who motivated me to persevere when it got tough.

What are your future aspirations?

Fortunately with the CA(SA) designation, the career opportunities are immense and cover every industry.

For now, I am focused on successfully completing my articles and hopefully with a lot of hard work I would like to become CEO of a Fortune 500 company.

DANIEL ALFOND

What/who inspired you to become a CA(SA)?

My father knows me very well and was the first person to give me the idea even before I really knew what it was. I’ve always liked working with figures and I knew that being a chartered accountant can open many doors so that also helped me to decide.

How did you prepare for your exams?

During my honours year I took the lecturers’ advice and focused on keeping up to date with work rather than studying for tests and falling behind. I feel as if this helped me a lot during the exams.

Did you ever feel like giving up? What motivated you to stick it out?

There were many hard times, but I wouldn’t say I ever considered giving up. Knowing what I had already put myself through was what motivated me to finish what I started.

What is the best advice you have ever received?

Something my piano teacher said to me when I was struggling with a piece: ‘The best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.

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