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LEAD: 35-under-35

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They say the roughest roads often lead to the top. In the profiles of twelve Top 35-under-35 finalists below, successful young CAs(SA) prove that there is much truth in this statement and that circumstances are not definers of destiny but rather that you can choose to overcome adversity and be extraordinary.

Not accepting failure as final, deciding to give up comfortable employment to start business ventures from scratch, and losing parents are just some of the challenges these young people have encountered. Not losing sight of their dreams, they continued with hopeful ambition, setting high goals and putting in many fine hours of hard work and dedication. It has paid off and they are now all in successful positions – the very reason that they’ve been selected as Top 35-under-35 finalists.

For more information visit: www.accountancysa.org.za/35-under-35

Continue to be inspired as you read about our finalists. And keep watching this space as there are yet 11 more amazing profiles to be revealed…

And within this wonderful month of September, each of the finalists will be going through a judging process by a panel of distinguished business leaders.  All the finalists will then be attending  a glitzy cocktail evening and this is where the competition will culminate as the winner is announced.

Watch the front cover of the November issue as The Top 35-under-35 winner makes their grand appearance!

PETERSON KHUMALO, CO-DIRECTOR AT MOLETE AND KHUMALO

After a gap year, Peterson Khumalo, co-director of Molete and Khumalo Chartered Accountants, applied to study at the University of Zululand. Upon his arrival Peterson bumped into a friend who would prove to be vital in Peterson’s career choice. His friend had been accepted for BSc Physics and Peterson, who had been accepted for both BSc Physics and BCom Accounting, decided that the smartest idea would be to diversify the careers within their friendship: he would study accounting and his friend physics.

Today he is amazed how fitting his career choice would be. “It could have only been a calling, a subconsciously made decision, but most importantly it was the spirit to defy all odds as the CA route is renowned as the hardest one to pursue.”

After finishing his degree, Peterson moved to the University of Johannesburg to do his honours degree. Subsequently he was recruited by KPMG to do his articles. Peterson considers this a most challenging time with intense character-building and a reality check for what lies ahead in the real world.

“This made me realise the hidden potential and gift instilled within me as I met my current business partner who proposed to go into business as opposed to finding employment.”

Peterson says this was the most difficult decision he has ever made. “It was a calculated risk with serious implications, but it only took about five months of being down, low and indebted before Lady Luck smiled at us. From then on we have never looked back. We are business people during the day, attending meetings and presenting our business model, and at night we are employees ensuring that the work gets done and that it is of the highest standard.”

Their company has won the Shanduka Black Umbrellas award for the most jobs created, as well as being placed second for being the best-performing company in Shanduka Black Umbrellas. Shanduka Black Umbrellas is a non-profit company involved in the support of emerging black businesses through enterprise development.

Peterson’s late grandmother, his mother and Peterson himself have always been a formidable team: “I can proudly say that these women played a vital role in getting me to where I am today. They helped build a solid character which settles for nothing but victory.”

He has great dreams for the future: “To retire at the age of 35, buy a farm in KZN and herd my cattle and sheep, and setting up an NGO to assist in the development of young rural CAs(SA). I aspire to see our company being among the Big Six accounting, auditing firms within the next 10 to 15 years.”

THOMAS KGOKOLO, CFO  OF THE COMPETITION COMMISSION OF SOUTH AFRICA

At the age of 16, Thomas Kgokolo matriculated top of his class from Bokamoso Senior Secondary School in Seshego. It was here that his former accounting teacher, Mr Masilela (featured on the right in photo), spoke the words that he still appreciates today: “You have to demonstrate that it doesn’t matter where you come from; whatever your mind can conceive you can achieve.”

A severe lack of finances meant that Thomas Kgokolo had to either make copies or borrow textbooks from his classmates when they were not using theirs. This was not the only hardship Thomas had to face, as at an early age he had tragically lost both his parents. This left him with the responsibility of taking over the parenting of his two siblings and trying to make ends meet. Eventually they started a transport business that currently employs six people.

But as C S Lewis wrote, hardships often prepare an ordinary person for an extraordinary destiny. Today Thomas is CFO of the Competition Commission of South Africa, a statutory body constituted in terms of the Competition Act 89 of 1998. The commission is empowered to investigate, control and evaluate restrictive business practices, abuse of dominant positions and mergers in order to achieve equity and efficiency in the South African economy.

Thomas has an incredible passion for training and empowering people. During his article years at PwC, he offered tutorial classes at Unisa for undergraduate accounting students, as well as being an external marker for Unisa. After completing his articles he joined Unisa as a senior lecturer in the Department of Management Accounting and also worked as a facilitator in the National School of Government, formerly known as PALAMA.

In 2012 he joined SAICA as a support CFO on the FET financial management improvement programme. During this time he volunteered to assist in drafting a supply chain management (SCM) policy for all FET colleges in the country without additional compensation, resulting in the training of over 150 FET officials on SCM-related matters.

In addition to working for  SAICA, in 2013 he was appointed as the first chairperson of the Mineworkers’ Provident Fund’s Audit and Risk Committee, With more than 110 000 members and an asset base of almost R25 billion, the fund is considered one of the top ten retirement funds in the country.

Since then, Thomas has established the J Investor programme. Through this programme he provides free investment seminars to previously disadvantaged communities and churches on how to invest on the JSE.

In 2014 he was appointed CFO of the Competition Commission and was immediately put in charge of overseeing the finances for a commission of inquiry into the private healthcare sector. He was further elected as chief risk officer for the commission.

“One should be careful of spending too much time doing things that are not in line with one’s passion as it often leads to frustration and underperformance. Passion allows one to go the extra mile in any opportunity that is presented and the world responds by a show of gratitude of continuous success and growth.”

Thomas loves playing soccer and spending time at home with his wife and child. He also loves mountain climbing and dreams of trekking to Mount Everest base camp.

Shabeer Khan, CFO of the Department of Trade and Industry

 

As with all young children, being an astronaut, a Formula 1 racing driver or a fireman were Shabeer Khan’s first aspirations, but it was the 1991 cricket tour of India that proved to be a turning point in his career choice: “The sporting world mirrored the change of politics in South Africa and a sense of unity enveloped our country. I realised the positive impact that just one event, one team and even a single person could have, and from that moment on I knew that whatever career path I would follow, I wanted to contribute to our country in some way.”Coming from a very close-knit family, moving away from home to attend university was the biggest challenge. Being responsible and focused was a major part of this. “I overcame this by choosing a lifestyle which balanced my studies, sports and spiritual wellness and having my dad as a constant mentor. I believe that success should never cost you your family life and as I became a family man, my new challenge was balancing my work with family time. But with two young children and a wonderful wife, harmony quickly found its way into my life.”Shabeer’s career began as an article clerk at Fazel and Associates where, he says, he learnt many of the basic, but important accounting practices. Next he worked at the Auditor-General of South Africa where he was eventually promoted to senior manager assigned with managing numerous portfolios of audits and taking lead of many United Nation assignments. In 2013 his journey reached a new height, as he was appointed chief financial officer at the Department of Trade and Industry (dti). Some of the tasks which he and his team are responsible for include effective strategic and financial management including the exercise of sound budgeting and budgetary controls, the operation of internal controls, and the timely production of financial reports. “The principles of hard work and dedication are essential and I believe that education is of paramount importance. I would encourage anyone to endeavour to achieve the highest possible qualification in their chosen field, commit to attaining it and remain focused until you achieve your dream.”When time permits, Shabeer plays action cricket and follows soccer, his favourite soccer team being Arsenal. Another of his favourite pastimes is reading: anything from novels to financial journals can be found on his nightstand. He does have a bucket list and skydiving is at the very top!  “I can honestly say that I love my job and enjoy every day at the office.”

GAVIN LUCAS, FOUNDER AND CEO OF THE STOR-AGE SELF STORAGE GROUP

It was a beautiful day – I remember it clearly. I was 22 years old and I was sitting in my new little VW Chico. I looked at the mountains and down at the suit I was wearing and I had a life-changing moment. I thought to myself, is this what I am going to do for the rest of my life – sit in traffic, go to work in suits and not necessarily be totally passionate about it – for the next 40 years, for the best years of my life (20 to 60), for the best hours of the day (08:00 to 17:00) and on the best days of the week (Monday to Friday)?” This sparked a journey of thought for Gavin where he realised that separating work from one’s life and trying to box it into certain hours of the day and certain days of the week, wearing certain clothes and sitting in traffic, was merely what society expects of us. Little did he dream that in two years time he would have stepped out the box completely.The opportunity came quite unexpectedly at the age of 24 and during the second year of his articles at KPMG in 2005. Gavin had an idea which had ignited literally through light conversation over a braai. It led to starting a business with his dad and older brother – a genuine start-up from scratch. A mere year later he was able to move straight from articles into full-time employment with the business they had started. Now, with Gavin at the age of 33, the company has more than 370 employees and a portfolio value in excess of R1,5 billion and is well on its way to meeting its target of being a R2 billion, 40-property portfolio by 2015. “When I think back to when I was 24 and what I set out to achieve I shudder at the thought. I think in part it was because I was so young and just didn’t have anything to fear. “One of the best business lessons that I learnt right at the start of our venture is that while business is business and it is inherently tough, there is never ever an excuse for someone to raise their voice and/or treat anyone with disrespect. It’s just not needed – ever.” Gavin loves spending time with his wife, Leanne, and their two baby boys in the outdoors, whether it’s mountain walking, taking the boat out at the Breede River, or skiing in Europe. He also plays cricket, runs, surfs, and plays golf. “I’m really enjoying the adventure that I’m on – I love what I do and I love my life. It really isn’t about crossing a finishing line for me, it’s about the journey. Clichéd for sure, but it’s the truth.”

Wikus Lategan, Financial Director of Calgro M3

Wikus started working for SG Frankel Pollack Stockbrokers to help pay for his studies. Unfortunately, as a result of him focusing way too much time on sport and “building relationships”, he failed his second year and then pleaded with the student dean to be allowed back into the university.

“This gave me a hard reality check and from then on I studied much harder and focused less on my ‘sporting career’.”

Wikus completed his degree and started his articles at the then Moores Rowland – now Mazars – studying part time for his honours/CTA, which he passed first time round.

“I realised that one must never stop striving to achieve one’s goals, and although I had to write QE1 and 2 each three times, I eventually passed.”

Today Wikus is one of the youngest FDs on a listed company. He has been instrumental in restructuring and growing Calgro M3 from a R30 million company to a R1 billion company since he joined as financial director in 2008, as well as restructuring and growing Calgro M3’s JSE Main Board listing in 2012.

“I believe that the best way to overcome any challenge is to forget that it’s a challenge, take it in your stride and get the job done. The best way to get through a difficult challenge is to identify what worse could have happened and then the challenge on hand is not insurmountable.”

The single greatest lesson Wikus has learned is to be trustworthy and streetwise, and to respect and treat all people equally. He adds: “Be up to date with what is going on in your specific sector and in the financial and capital markets. Always make sure you are on top of your game.”

If he can give three guidance tools for young businesspeople it would be to:

•  Strive to make a difference in everything you do

•  Work hard, extremely hard, to achieve your goals; never give up, and always have goals

•  Never stop enjoying life

“If I have one message to South Africa it would be to make sure that all people get an education. Ensure all people are qualified as, for example, artisans, nurses, engineers. A qualified nation will always strive to be better and bring their kids up to aspire to something bigger and better.”

His body and wife permitting, he aims to run the Comrades once more and participate in the following world marathons in a fair time (of course depending on his age at that time): Paris, London, Boston, Great Wall Marathon (China), and Marathon de la Baie du Mont Saint-Michel (France).

Married early in his life to his supportive wife Elizabeth, Wikus believes his family keeps him balanced and gives him a reason to go home. His ultimate way of relaxing: “Going for a nice long morning/afternoon run with my wife and little boy (yes, with a runners’ pram), followed by breakfast and later having friends over for a braai and good red wine.”

 

Joey Lin, Financial Director at Groot Constantia

At an early age Joey Lin’s parents exposed him to great biographies and not surprisingly his career choices as a child would follow suit: “Initially I was inspired by an adventurer (Roald Amundsen), later on by scientists (Louis Pasteur and Marie Curie) and military commanders (Sun Tzu and Napoleon Bonaparte), finally settling on historians (military and Chinese history) as I am fascinated by history and culture (especially Chinese).”

His final career choice would be CA(SA), inspiration stemming from both parents being trained bookkeepers and  that he excelled in accounting in high school – so much so that he came third in the National Accounting Olympiad in his matric year.

“But now, as a chartered accountant, I feel like a corporate historian, so my current career is not out of place to my childhood dream.”

Besides his CA(SA) qualification, Joey completed ACMA and CFA during his articles. He adds: “Effectively, I spent 40 hours writing exams during my articles (excluding study hours). Thus my articles were only work and study. During that time I developed great time management skills and exam techniques, and solid work ethics. I believe having the right mind set/attitude and grit can complete any seemingly unattainable tasks.”

Joey completed his articles at Ernst & Young Cape Town and his first job after articles was as equity analyst at PPS Investments. After a six-month stint at PPS, he moved to Engen in 2008 as a group accountant in order to fulfil his training requirements for CIMA. He has been with Engen ever since, boasting some great career experiences at Treasury and now Merger and Acquisitions.

During Napoleon Bonaparte’s exile, his favourite wine was from Groot Constantia. Therefore, being financial director at Groot Constantia since 2009 – outside Joey’s professional career – he feels he is contributing something towards his childhood hero, Napoleon Bonaparte.

Being an avid reader, his interests lie in the fields of economics, history and self-development. Currently he averages ten books per year with his personal favourites being Linchpin by Seth Godin, Fooled by Randomness by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, and The (Misbehavior of Markets by Benoit Mandelbrot and Richard L Hudson.

Joey also enjoys travelling with his wife, a fellow CA(SA), and playing with their one-year-old son. Other keen interests involve following architecture and technology, and a love for pens, shoes, watches and computer gaming – a proud geek!

JACQUES LUBBE, CFO OF TSX-LISTED KATANGA MINING LTD

Jacques Lubbe gave himself exactly twelve years to become CFO of a listed mining company. The twelve years consisted of four phases of three years each in which he needed to fulfil different roles in order to obtain the necessary skills and experience.

On 14 November 2013 a press release went out announcing that Jacques had been appointed as CFO of TSX-listed Katanga Mining Ltd. At the age of 32, five years ahead of his plan, it remains the highlight of his career.

“After completing articles at Ernst & Young, I went to see a career counsellor. I always knew I had a passion for the mining industry. I grew up in a mining environment and it is part and parcel of my DNA. I just couldn’t make up my mind whether to stay in audit and specialise in mining or go into industry. I came out of that session with a clear vision of what I wanted to do and what experience I needed to make it happen.”

Shortly after the career counselling session, Jacques was approached by a recruitment agency for a financial controller position at one of Metorex’s start-up operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ruashi Mining. Initially he was sceptical, but deciding to take up the role proved to be a career-defining moment.

A man who has been a great mentor for Jacques is his father, Anton Lubbe, who is also passionate about the mining industry. They often debated the complex challenges faced within the mining industry and Jacques says he owes most of my operational knowledge to his father: “He was one of seven children and my grandfather was a shift boss at the mine. There was no money for him to study so he did his apprenticeship at the mine and studied at the mine’s technical college. He outperformed the rest of the students and got a bursary to do his Mining Engineering degree at Wits. At Wits he once again finished top of the Mining Engineering class and won a bursary to do his MBA at Cardiff in Wales. Today he is an ops director at one of the biggest mining companies in the world. He is a true example of how you can rise above your environment with hard work and dedication.”

“Some of my biggest challenges as a young leader have been taking on managerial roles at new organisations. You are most vulnerable in the first few months in a new position, lacking the detailed knowledge of the challenges that you face and what it takes to succeed. You have to be able to diagnose the business situation accurately and clarify the challenges and opportunities.”

Jacques is a multisport fanatic enjoying adventure racing, mountain biking, and more recently, triathlon.

“I have also done Berg and Bush, sani2c, the Absa Cape Epic (2013), and Old Mutual joberg2C (2014), and completed Ironman France in Nice in June 2014.”

Ismail Lambat Executive Manager at Eskom

On his 18th birthday, Ismail Lambat, Executive Manager, Capital Efficiency at Eskom, received the exciting news that he had been awarded an academic scholarship from PwC to study at the University of Johannesburg. “Convinced that the universe was reaching out to me in this explicit manner, my dreams of studying medicine vacillated to the CA route, and this is where this exciting journey began.”

Attaining auditing results in the top five in the country, Ismail completed his honours at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. “This programme afforded me the luxury of living a dual life for the year as an honours student and sales consultant at Softline Pastel.” Ismael lives by the motto that most barriers to achieving goals are self-imposed and that one’s life is ultimately a manifestation of one’s thoughts.

His first role at Eskom was as management accounting manager in the Capital Expansion Programme. He completed the internationally recognised Certified Internal Audit (CIA) qualification and subsequently the Management Advancement Programme (MAP) at Wits Business School, and finished top of the class.

This was followed by a Master’s of Business Administration (MBA) in Strategy at Wits Business School, which he completed cum laude. He further completed the Accelerated Development Programme (ADP) at the London Business School and is a Certified Director by the Institute of Directors. In keeping with his passion for lifelong learning he is currently completing a CIMA-accredited qualification in Islamic finance.

Ismail was promoted to finance manager for the Nuclear Division at Eskom and had the privilege of representing South Africa internationally in the structuring and project financing of the country’s proposed nuclear fleet.  He has also presented at numerous conferences and workshops relating to capital infrastructure projects.

He is currently Executive Manager of Capital Efficiency, which involves leading a team of professionals responsible for the strategic planning, optimising and prioritisation of Eskom’s multi-billion-rand capital investment portfolio.

His greatest lesson to other young CAs(SA) is derived from Mind the Gap by Graeme Codrington which outlines the various attributes of different generations. “It is evident that Generation Y, which we fall into, has unique strengths and aptitudes which if channelled positively can transform the world of business and the world of work.”

After a stressful day: “It would have to be either an indulgent coffee or chocolate date with my soul mate Aamena, who often provides interesting perspectives as a fellow CA. I have also started cycling and find it absolutely exhilarating. I thoroughly enjoy reading a good book, although my recent reads have primarily been picture books and flash cards, which are the joys of being a father of three beautiful children.”

He also enjoys philanthropy and has recently become involved in an entrepreneur development programme which has been most fulfilling. “I thoroughly enjoy interacting with people who may be currently disadvantaged or faced with tribulations with the hope of assisting them in finding the silver lining that I strongly believe exists in any situation.”

Eben-LUDWIG Mare, Financial Director of Cambridge Food

Paying for his studies through a student loan placed Eben Mare, financial director of Cambridge Food, in a position where he put an immense amount of pressure on himself and expected himself to perform during articles: “I got the balance wrong and neglected my QE studies and failed the first part, twice. Through dedication, determination and introspection on what I had to change in approach I finished both Part 1 and Part 2 in my final year of articles.”

He completed his articles with PwC out of the Sunninghill office and stayed on for about eight months after articles as assistant manager. “My clients were an interesting combination of entertainment (SuperSport), to hospitality (Cullinan Hotels), to engineering (Stewart Scott), to media (Jonathan Ball Publishers), and manufacturing (Owens Corning).”

But fairly soon after finishing articles he began to hunt for the right career, with his interests lying in the running, management and leadership of a business and not in a long-term auditing career.

“Massmart was recruiting for a head office role and was kind enough to offer me the opportunity to make a difference in their business. Back then the business was as entrepreneurial as they came, but listed, with a rare focus on people.”

In October 2006 Eben joined Massmart and has worked with the group ever since. “During my time at head office, I fulfilled the role of group financial manager and served in various governance capacities of group-related structures. These included non-executive director of the Consumer Goods Council of South Africa, member of the Audit Committee of the latter, member and later chairman of the Massmart Health Plan Audit Committee, member of the Massmart Pension and Provident Fund Audit Committee, as well as serving on the investment sub-committees of both the Health Plan and Pension and Provident Fund.”

In December 2011 Eben took on the challenge as financial director of Cambridge Food, the then food retail start-up at Massmart, which had grown predominantly through acquisition: “I’ve held this position since and have worked alongside my CEO, Kevin Vyvyan-Day, in establishing the business in an extremely competitive environment in South Africa. My responsibilities include finance, legal, compliance, risk, property and business/store development.”

Eben believes balance is important whilst maintaining a very busy lifestyle. His hobbies include mountain biking, golf, and hunting. A favourite way to de-stress is a brisk 10 kilometre run.

“But lately making it home for my two boys’ bath time and giving them and their Mom my full attention for at least a full hour – no mobile, no laptop!” he adds.

Mojalefa Molete, Co-director of Molete and Khumalo

Lefa Molete, co-director of Molete and Khumalo Chartered Accountants, says that if it wasn’t for his grandmother, you may have found him selling tomatoes on the side of some dusty street somewhere. She saw through the mischievous little Lefa, however, and saw a man that could change lives. “She believed in me when I gave her no hope. She treated me like the man she knew I had the potential to become and that’s why she will forever remain a giant in my eyes,” he adds.

Facing numerous challenges through his career, one of the toughest was losing his father in the last year of his undergraduate degree studies. “There is nothing in life that can prepare one for losing one’s father. You often empathise when people lose their loved ones but you only comprehend the gravity of the situation when it happens to you.”

Lefa’s life took a 180-degree turn. Missing lectures, implementing new but failing studying patterns, he became a shadow of the person he used to be, as his hope had disappeared: “I then read somewhere that the places in the world with the most potential were cemeteries. I had to realise that my father had passed away but that I didn’t pass away with him. I was still here and I did not want to expire with unused potential. I made a decision that I wanted to be all used up when my time came and from that moment I’ve just pushed to reach my potential all day.”

Once successfully qualified as a CA(SA), Lefa began seeking new challenges. A few guys he knew were starting a mining venture: their idea sounded like a dream and their goal was to become billionaires. He left KPMG to join but with everyone pulling in different directions, translating the great idea into a lucrative business was impossible and the dream quickly evolved into a nightmare. It ended with Lefa losing his life savings, unemployed and once again without hope.

“It was at this point in my life that I started Molete and Khumalo Chartered Accountants (called Molete & Co Chartered Accountants at the time). I was back living at home in Mafikeng, my monthly expenses came up to about R1 000 and I had nothing to lose. I made about a thousand phone calls and a lot of those translated into meetings which translated into clients – and this is the birth story of the firm.”

Today, three years down the line, the firm is still standing and, most importantly, growing. In April this year Molete and Khumalo Chartered Accountants won the Johannesburg regional Shanduka Black Umbrellas Enterprise Development Award.

“Life is about balance so when I’m not working long hours I love travelling. I recently took a tour of the Eastern and Western Cape and I found the most amazing things right here in my backyard. It was an adventure holiday and the most adventurous thing I did was bungee jump from the 216 metre Bloukrans Bridge.”

Matshepo More, CFO of the Public Investment Corporation

Matshepo More, CFO of the Public Investment Corporation (PIC), was taken with the fact that her first accounting teacher was a CA(SA) who decided to move to a teaching career so that she could spend more quality time with her kids. Her own parents had worked long hours through her childhood – particularly her mom who was a nurse and often worked night shift.

“I liked the flexibility of the CA qualification in that it opened up many career paths. Further, besides enjoying accounting I have always loved the guidance that figures have in determining strategy.”

Matshepo served her articles at Deloitte specialising in financial institutions. She worked for four  months at the Deloitte office in New York, her main client being an asset management company. On her return she was promoted to audit manager.

After almost a year as audit manager, she attended a function of ABASA (the Association for the Advancement of Black Accountants of South Africa) where one of the guest speakers, a Minister, challenged all CAs(SA) at the function that, instead of complaining of qualified audit reports within government, to join the public service instead and implement the changes they wished to see. Driven by the need to serve and to change the landscape, Matshepo left Deloitte and joined the PIC.

“The journey is still long and there is a lot that needs to be achieved by the profession as well as by the PIC, which is a leading player in this field. So my task is still huge and seemingly has no bounds. To a large extent it is influenced by changes in business – ours as well as the global professional environment.”

A personal mentor who has greatly influenced Matshepo is her mom, who has taught her to be humble and to never lose sight of the pillars that her principles are founded on.

“To this date and with all the success in my career when I go home she still makes me mop the floor. When I complain she tells me I should never forget where I come from, because that shapes the woman I will become. She also taught me not to pity myself and that life is about surviving,” says Matshepo.

“As part of my desire to serve and change the landscape I would love to be able to devote more time educating others about what I have learnt in the last few years. Further, I would like to create a trust that would obtain funds from those in the profession and use those funds to introduce the profession to others and provide basic financial support.”

Matshepo  loves travelling, reading and spending time with family. “The best thing that DStv introduced was On Demand. I spend most Sunday afternoons catching up on programmes I have missed during the week.”

Shiluba Mawela, CFO of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange

In high school Shiluba Mawela, now CFO of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, tutored maths and accounting. Growing up, she wanted to be many things, from a photographer to a paediatric surgeon, but her heart’s desire has always been to serve.

As well as being the founder and co-director of Lesedi Entrepreneurial Hub, a social development enterprise that provides support, advice and mentorship to start-ups, she is also co-director and treasurer of Transitions Foundation, a non-profit organisation that helps young people to realise their dreams through education.

In 2012 she was selected as a World Economic Forum Global Shaper. In November 2013 she was recognised by Destiny magazine as a Top 40 Outstanding Young Leader, Innovator and Job Creator for her work in social activism.

“Accounting came organically. It made sense, I did well and found comfort and harmony in the system of balance. When things didn’t balance, you knew immediately that something was wrong. I loved the feedback.”

Following the completion of a three-year article programme at Ernst & Young’s Johannesburg Office, she was seconded to the New York office where she worked in their Banking and Capital Markets division.

“During articles I was the project co-ordinator of project endeavour, an Ernst & Young Inc social responsibility initiative that provides entrepreneurs in emerging markets who have been identified through Endeavor with strategic advice, access to key networks and other tools to enable them to reach their highest potential,” she says.

“I have learnt a tremendous amount from failing to achieve my goals. Failure is feedback that forces you to evaluate thoroughly what you are doing. I believe failure has strengthened my character, sharpened my focus, and instilled a sense of perseverance. As a result I have become hardworking and meticulous in the performance of my work, wholehearted in my engagements, and have single-minded focus and discipline when performing tasks assigned to me.”

She has had many mentors through her life: “Some requested, some nominated, some unintended and others purely accidental. Mentors have been a powerful source of inspiration and motivation, as well as asking the really tough questions. I seek people who are able to connect, engage and are passionate about their work. My mother and brother have also been exceptional in this regard.”

Shiluba loves spending time with her friends and family. She is also an avid reader, a sporadic writer, and even occasionally finds herself blogging at africaentle.wordpress.com to celebrate the vibrancy of the continent.

“Further, I love to reflect, laugh, pray and smile.”

 

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