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LEAD: 35-under-35

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Last, but definitely not least! These eleven daring young professionals have not only successfully pursued their dreams to become CAs(SA), but they have all excelled and moved swiftly through the ranks. They now either hold prestigious positions or, being entrepreneurs at heart, have boldly ventured out taking risks to open their very own practices or companies.

Most inspiring of all is at the core of each of these Top 35-under-35s’ vision for their future is a vision of being more than just themselves. Already making a difference in the lives of those around them, they continue to aspire to make the world a better place.

In the meantime, with the formal judging process under way, we all now wait with great anticipation to get a glimpse of the November Accountancy SA cover and find out who the Top 35-under-35 will be …

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

In September the judging process took place and what an absolutely fabulous two days it was!

After studying each of The Top 35-under-35 finalist’s amazing profiles we were very excited to finally meet them in person and get to know each of them a bit more. If you thought their profiles were amazing, meeting them in person was even more so as they all have really incredible personalities too. As for the judges, there is no definitely no doubt – it’s going to be one incredibly tough decision for them to decide who the winner will be!

Watch out for the November cover as The Top 35-under-35 makes their grand appearance …

Gugu Mtetwa Managing Executive in Finance, Vodacom

Gugu Mtetwa has gleaned many a valuable lesson from her various mentors, one of her favourite being: “I am my best blueprint, and therefore I should not try to be someone else’s carbon copy”. Although she says at times one can be tempted to conform, she is purposeful to remain true to herself.

In grade 11, whilst doing some research about the various career options, Gugu stumbled across a book called Rainbow, a career guidance book.

She adds, “After studying that book I got to learn about the Chartered Accountancy career. I did not know of a person who was a Chartered Accountant at the time. So I applied for job shadowing at the then Coopers and Lybrand. What inspired me was that the career entailed working in teams and working at different clients, not only working with numbers.”

After completing her articles at PwC, Gugu decided to stay on to gain some managerial experience. During this time, she was selected to participate in a 2 week course in Israel called He’atid. Being in Israel was a surreal experience for her and amongst the participants were managers from other companies which included a diverse group of engineers, accountants and HR managers.

In 2007, she was again selected to participate in PwC Global’s 5 month Leadership Programme in Berlin, Germany. It was a global leadership development programme for high performing individuals where she got the opportunity to build a global network of friends. She adds, “The programme enhanced my global network, global outlook, and ability to work in multi-cultural teams.”

Almost a year later she was proudly admitted into the PwC partnership. Gugu did not see this as the ultimate achievement however, as she sought to make a difference in the firm. In 2012, Gugu was appointed to be part of the PwC Southern Africa Management Committee, where she served as Transformation and Diversity leader across the firm. Gugu is passionate about promoting the CA profession and has also served on the Board of the Association for the Advancement of Black Accountants of South Africa (ABASA).

In June 2014, she joined Vodacom as Managing Executive in Finance. In her new role, she looks forward to gaining a wealth of commercial experience.  She is also a board member of the Development Bank of Southern Africa and Brand South Africa: “For me it is an honour to hold public office where I can be part of the development and advancement of the country and region.”

A word of wisdom from Gugu for young upcoming CAs(SA): “You are not a statistic. We hear all the statistics of how many students don’t complete their university studies, how many students do not qualify as CAs(SA) etc. I say don’t think of yourself as a statistic because great people defy all statistics. Believe in yourself because what you think is that which is possible.”

Gugu is also an avid local and world traveller, and treasures spending time with family. Already having explored many of SA’s beautiful destinations, she still has a long list she’d like to see ticked off: “Seeing the world is quite enlightening. I like to leave room for serendipity so I don’t want to plan too much.”

Mergan Naidoo, CFO of the Goldrush Gaming Group

He always knew that he wanted to be in business, and even today Mergan Naidoo can distinctly remember a conversation he had with his sister when she asked him how exactly he planned to make this happen. Mergan’s answer was simple: “Just open up one business and use the money from that to open up others until you have many.”

“The CA(SA) designation always appeared to be the premier title to hold to be a business leader. My wife was the ultimate deciding factor. I never did accounting in high school and at university she taught me what a debit and credit was.”

Mergan has since initiated and led the merger, acquisition and restructuring of multiple companies in the gaming industry. The process lasted three years and involved negotiations with multiple stakeholders, tax structuring in South Africa and the UK, BEE structuring, as well as mediating with multiple provincial gambling boards for regulatory approval. This culminated in the formation of the Goldrush Group in December 2013 – one of the largest alternative gaming groups in South Africa.

Joining Egoli Gaming in 2009, Mergan’s talent was soon recognised. He was duly offered a seat on the board as a director, shareholder and partner, and now holds the position as CFO of the Goldrush Group.

Mergan recently founded the Goldrush Foundation that has assisted thousands of less fortunate individuals, as well as successfully negotiating and integrating JSE-listed RECM & Calibre Ltd into the group as a significant shareholder. He has also successfully led the group into the sports betting market and launched Gbets, one of the fastest growing sports betting companies in the country.

Mergan believes it’s crucial that one understands one’s business: “Let me explain. My first day at Goldrush was not in the office, it was in the field understanding and experiencing how and why money flows in and out of the company.”

He says this strategy gives one the ability not just to present figures and reports but to take those numbers and effect meaningful change in the business; being able to spot whether there is a real problem or potential in the business or just being able to just spot the exact break in the reportable chain; and confidence that you can walk into any situation and know exactly what is going on in your business.

When his busy schedule allows, he enjoys cycling, squash and action cricket. But his most precious time is spent with his wife and two daughters, now aged 4 years and 2 months respectively. “I seem to be watching a lot of Barbie or Sofia the first lately, so my best time to relax is sleeping in front of the TV. Right now I’m passionately involved in legos and hide and seek and loving it …”

Cindy Mc Kay, Director of Audit BEE Inc

Cindy Mc Kay describes herself as an outgoing personality, passionate about working with her clients. She enjoys it most when she’s out and about paying each of her clients a personal visit.

She loves playing golf and fishing with her husband for fun. “I don’t think there are many girls who have gone deep sea fishing for their honeymoon. I caught my first sailfish on our honeymoon and it was great fun to release him again to preserve him for someone else to catch another day.”

After articles at Grant Thornton she moved to KPMG Johannesburg starting as supervisor and quickly moved up the ranks. She left as senior manager to join Fastnet as head of finance where she managed the finance department comprising some 42 people. Here Cindy reported to the CFO and gained a wealth of experience regarding management styles and leadership skills. But after the  birth to her first son she decided it was time to start her own practice to have more work–life balance.

“Starting a practice when you have no clients, only a laptop and overcome with the fear of the unknown, is daunting to say the least. Being a CA(SA), I am naturally a risk-averse person and as such I was very scared of leaving my permanent employment to start my practice. But with the overwhelming support from my husband, I took the leap of faith.”

So together they sat down and calculated how long it would take the business to be a financial success and the next day Cindy resigned. “I phoned all my friends and announced my big move and soon the work started coming in. That was the start of my life as I know it now.”

Cindy says that subsequent to the new Companies Act it has become more difficult for small auditing practices to be profitable, and they knew that they had to expand their service offering to remain relevant in the current economic market. Currently they are in the process of expanding their practice into the industrial relations market.

“This is an area where we will have to study again to gain the knowledge as neither I nor my partner has extensive knowledge in this area. This is a new challenge for our practice and we are very excited to take this risk and make a success of it. This also expands our knowledge as CAs and places us in a more advantageous position to advise our clients. As small practitioner, our client market mainly consists of SMMEs and these business owners contact their ‘auditors’ for all their business-related questions. Being able to advise clients on industrial relation matters places us in a very advantages position.”

Travelling to Guatemala someday to catch billfish with her husband, son and the new baby on the way is right at the top of Cindy’s bucket list. “But obviously only once both kids are over 10.”

Gugu Nxiweni, Executive Chairman of Improvate Group of Companies

As a boy Gugu Nxiweni’s dream was to play soccer at the highest level and ultimately represent South Africa in the World Cup. However, his soccer dreams came to an end as he was unable to go to Johannesburg to fulfil his sporting potential. Some time later a certain Mr Lwando Bantom “nagged” Gugu to meet up with him and it was he who would steered Gugu in the direction of the CA(SA) profession.

Think big, make the most of your opportunities and aim for excellence are some of the valuable lessons Gugu has learned over time. In fact, one of the most terrifying experiences of his student life occurred one June day in his honours year and taught him one of his greatest life lessons. Arriving at the examination hall  prepared to write an Auditing examination, as he read the “Required” of the exam question he realised to his horror that he was sitting for a Taxation and Estate Planning exam instead. He spent the next 30 minutes going through different options on how to handle the situation – top of the list was exiting the exam venue.

“After convincing myself that 20% was better than 0% (if I walked out), I mustered enough courage to attempt what seemed impossible. I managed to complete the exam first but only after seriously humiliating myself with two questions which the lecturer laughed at. I was totally amazed at the outcome of this exam. I was one of the few students that passed and, even better, I was placed second (yes, number 2). I couldn’t believe it!”

This proved to be a life-changing experience for Gugu. Thereafter he told himself to never give up and that it was possible to achieve even more. At the end of his honours year he was placed first in Taxation and Estate Planning, second in both Accounting and Auditing, and overall second in his year.

He adds: “But it could have been very different. I could have walked out not knowing that I had the potential to overcome even the greatest of student life’s ‘curve-balls’. I got life’s permission to excel.”

After completing his articles, he moved to the Advisory Unit at KPMG in Port Elizabeth at the end of 2005. He returned as a partner in 2010, being the first black African partner appointment for KPMG in the Eastern Cape. Until December 2013 he remained a partner at KPMG assuming responsibility for a number of roles.

“From early this year, I have become an entrepreneur. Together with my business partners, we founded the Improvate Group of Companies of which I am the Executive Chairman, and am honoured and privileged to be part of the World Economic Forum Young Global Leaders Class of 2014.”

Outside of formal employment Gugu has served on a number of boards and audit committees, including Emmanuel Haven (an award-winning NGO that Gugu previously served as CEO), Vezokuhle Youth Development (NGO), and the Black Management Forum.

A goal Gugu aspires to achieve: “Impacting and changing the lives of more than a million ordinary people across the length and breadth of our country and continent. Achieving that would give me peace and make me very happy indeed.”

Gareth Olivier, Co-founder of CA Connect

His passions early in life were acting, writing, singing and playing cricket, says Gareth Olivier, co-founder of CA Connect. Being a CA(SA) was never really part of his frame of reference.

Although Gareth considered studying drama, he decided to rather embrace his creative and logic-driven strengths by studying Business Science Marketing. “I was really lucky to have some excellent accounting and finance lecturers who opened me up to a different way of thinking about business. They showed me that people who break barriers need to be creative but also need to be rooted in clear thinking and a strong tertiary education such as a CA(SA) is a great way of learning to learn and developing a platform for great thinking.”

Following articles, Gareth was keen to stay on at PwC in their National Technical department, but along with some friends from UCT, they decided to start CA Connect.

“Our dream when we started CA Connect was to be the first private SAICA-accredited CTA in South Africa that offered contact education to students who were not able to study on a full-time basis. We wanted to run a programme that was founded on inclusion, support and genuine care, taking a fresh look at education, focusing on fostering critical and creative thought and developing true business leaders.”

Initially CA Connect worked with SAICA’s growth and transformation team, running a bursaried CTA support programme. At the end of 2012 CA Connect partnered with Monash SA launching the only private SAICA-accredited CTA in 2013. The Monash SA / CA Connect CTA currently admits full-time and afterhours students and is the only CTA in the country to be delivered via blended learning (partly via online classes, partly via contact sessions). The CTA has grown to 320 students per year of whom more than 70% are from previously disadvantaged backgrounds.

Gareth is currently the head of the CTA programme and also lectures CTA Financial Reporting. “I have such high hopes for the role that this programme can play in transformation and I am really excited about the broad base of students that can benefit from blended learning,” he says.

“I think that the future of CA education lies in private institutions. Top-quality educational solutions require the dynamism of smaller organisations with an entrepreneurial spirit, not with undue emphasis on bottom lines, but to the extent that they focus on efficiency, effectiveness and authentic value.”

When it comes to the important people in his life, he says he has never met anyone who exemplifies unconditional love like his wife does: “She has taught me what true commitment is and what it means to never give up. These have been pillars of strength in every aspect of my life.”

Spending time with his family and friends is a priority. And being the huge music fan he that he is, he also enjoys spending time finding and listening to new music. “If I have an hour on my own,” he says, “one of my favourite things to do is to listen to a great album from start to finish.”

Abednigo Tau, MD of Thamani Strategic Investments

Abednigo Tau considers himself a “hippie” caught in the body of an entrepreneur. With a love for problem-solving, he has always nurtured a curiosity as to how things worked. If he wasn’t able to excel at something, it would give him great frustration and so he would persevere until he eventually figured it out. He has since taught himself to play the guitar, piano and flute.

After completing his honours degree at the University of Johannesburg in 2009, he stayed on as an academic trainee and lectured Accounting 3 for his first year of articles. He then joined Deloitte and completed his articles at the end of 2012.

Through the Just In Time (JIT) programme he was able to go and work in Philadelphia for three months. This gave him the opportunity to travel around the United States, which he says was fantastic. “I re-joined Deloitte in 2013 as a manager in the Learning Space, which was also very interesting. Through that I had the privilege to travel to a lot of African countries.”

With entrepreneurship always being close to his heart, he left Deloitte earlier this year to start his own company, Thamani Strategic Investments.

The company comprises three divisions: Thamani Consulting, Thamani Creative, and Thamani Properties.

“The company also has an investment leg where we have invested in three other exciting businesses. The dream is to have a diversified group in the years to come.”

Mentors have played a huge role in Abednigo’s life and helped him become who he is today. “I think sometimes our mentors are silent and don’t announce themselves as mentors but quietly cheer, encourage and mentor us from the sidelines. My mentors have been some of my good friends, teachers at high school, lecturers at university, at work, my parents, and most importantly God,” he says.

“I think the most important thing that I have drawn from my mentors is that the most successful people are normally the ones who put people first. Money and accolades are almost a direct result of having an impact on people’s lives and having a servant’s heart in your work and engagements.”

Abednigo has high ambitions for his career and believes that his role is to become an employment catalyst in South Africa. “It is my dream to have a company that employs 100 000 people, particularly the youth.

I believe this country has so much potential and that potential can only be unlocked by believing in people and affording them opportunities to shine. Most of the time they will surprise you and over-achieve.”

Abednigo says he is a wanna-be master chef. On his days off day you’ll find him venturing out to buy ingredients, cooking up a storm, and usually leaving the kitchen looking like a disaster area.

Devin Sinclair, Chief Operating Officer at Okapi

Devin Sinclair started his very first entrepreneurial venture while completing his articles at Deloitte and went on to become one of the very first people to obtain a Vida e Caffè franchise. “Having noted the premium coffee trend in other countries, I pestered Vida until an opportunity presented itself,” he says. After convincing a friend to partner with him, and while continuing his audit work during the day, he spent many nights and weekends putting the deal together and went on to own three Vida e Caffè stores.

After enjoying a secondment to one of Deloitte’s offices in California, he returned to South Africa to an opportunity he could not turn down: to work directly under the CEO of JSE-listed Invicta Holdings Ltd.

“However, after two invaluable years at Invicta the itch to spend some more time working internationally was growing stronger – perhaps linked to my insatiable travel bug! This led me to pursue an MBA at the Judge Business School at the University of Cambridge. I viewed this as an opportunity to expand my business knowledge even further, but also to expand my horizons and expose myself to the global business world.”

Devin says his year at Cambridge was an incredible life experience and that being surrounded by 150 classmates from 43 countries in the unique environment of Cambridge had a major impact on widening his perspectives from both a business and personal perspective.

“During my MBA I focused on venture capital and e-commerce and as a result worked with top e-commerce retailers such as Zalando in Germany and Burberry in London, as well as being a European finalist in the global Venture Capital Investment Competition.”

After his MBA Devin moved from Cambridge to London and partnered with Hanneli Rupert. He took on the unique challenge of helping build her fledgling luxury leather goods brand, Okapi. The goal was to establish Africa’s first true luxury brand and market it to the world’s biggest luxury markets. All Okapi products were to be 100% made in South Africa, out of 100% African-sourced raw materials – an ambition that was going to be easier said than done.

After two years of hard work involving many a trip between South Africa and London, they have very successfully built the South African production team and supply chain, set up a London office, launched an international e-commerce website (www.okapi.com) and marketed the brand from their London base. These efforts recently culminated in securing the world’s biggest luxury online retailer, Net-A-Porter, as global stockist of Okapi products, together with press coverage in the New York Times, the UK Financial Times and Vogue.

Devin tries to feed his travel bug at every opportunity: “I have been fortunate enough to have made it to 41 countries so far! I find that with every new place that you go, you learn something new about both the world and yourself.”

Bonolo Ramokhele, Executive Director: Strategy and Business Development of LeoFortis Group

Being elected to chair the World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Shapers in 2014 is a significant highlight for Bonolo Ramokhele, as well as being among the top one per cent of youngest people to be invited to the WEF Davos meeting.

Humility, compassion and a love for school and reading were instilled in him at an early age by his grandmother and his mom was the one who taught him about persistence, perseverance and seeing things through to the end. He adds, “My mom is the most diligent and intelligent person I know.”

After articles at Deloitte and Touche, Bonolo started the Leofortis Group with a good friend, Willem Janse van Rensburg. “My business partner and brother Willem Janse van Rensburg has been a great springboard, and due to our interactions I have grown a lot as a person and as an entrepreneur.”

Leofortis Group is a purpose-driven private company with interests in mining, mining technology, project management for civil works, and rail telecommunications. Bonolo is Executive Director of Strategy and Business Development for the group. A great achievement for him has been securing an energy contract in South Sudan which included managing a team of engineers and closing a deal with the Ministers of Housing and Energy.

Bonolo is a passionate committee member of ABASA’s Education Committee and makes a difference by organising career days in rural areas and townships in Limpopo, Mpumalanga, North West and Gauteng.

In 2014 Bonolo was named one of the ambassadors for Brand South Africa’s Play Your Part initiative: “I have been active on the political front, having served in the executive committee of the Albert Luthuli branch of the ANC Youth League from 2012 to 2014. I am currently representing Guinea’s largest political party, the UDFG [Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea], in South Africa. I am reporting directly to the former Prime Minister of Guinea, Cellou Diallo.”

Bonolo also serves on the Black Business Council as coordinator for youth-related affairs responsible for the advancement of entrepreneurs. He also provides financial and mentorship support to the Lukhanyo Children’s Home in his hometown of Sterkspruit, in the Eastern Cape, which caters for children from broken homes.

Recently he has been appointed as a mentor on the Mara Group of companies’ online platform for entrepreneurs in Africa. The platform was initiated by Africa’s youngest billionaire, Ashish Thakkar. His wish is to travel to each and every African country and see the great annual wildlife migration in East Africa. His ultimate dream is being a high school teacher in his hometown of Sterkspruit, Eastern Cape. But for now his next goal is to see one of the Leofortis Group’s businesses listed within the next five years and operating on each continent in the world, achieving a global footprint.

“Work hard and pray hard. There are no shortcuts,” he says.

David Smith, Financial Controller – Operations at Pick n Pay

With an immense love for animals and the outdoors, as a young boy David Smith dreamed of being a game ranger and stopping poaching. However, with his father being a CA(SA) and  in charge of one of the Big Four firms’ regional offices, by the time David finished school game ranging had quietly slipped down the priority list as he was encouraged to peruse a more practical financial qualification.

Never having done accounting at school made the first six months of varsity a little more difficult for him, so while his mates spent time on the beach David had his head in his books. But it has helped him in the long run, he says: “I am a prime example of ‘marks are not everything’. Hard work, grit and long hours do the trick too (so does prayer). And just like 90% of the other CAs(SA), I also came 11th in the board exams.”

Being the initiator he is, during his training contract with KPMG David organised a cause called Change4Change which raised money for various charities – a successful initiative still in place today, seven years later.

After his training contract ended in February 2007, he joined Pick n Pay as a junior accountant. Here he has enjoyed rapid promotion through the ranks and being involved in many areas within the corporate finance division. This has led to various new business projects including new point of sale implementation and integration, as well as Smart Shopper (Pick n Pay’s loyalty programme) and Brand Match. In 2011 David was appointed Divisional Director for Finance Business Operations Support and earlier this year he was promoted to Financial Controller – Operations.

Advice from David to young CAs(SA): “While this may not be a ‘single lesson’, it can be summed up in one sentence: back yourself – be confident but receptive, take as much initiative as you can, and always be prepared to roll up your sleeves and get working. The strongest quality a young CA(SA) can have in my opinion is to analyse and interpret a problem and then propose realistic alternatives as solutions. We all work at different speeds, so rather apply your mind than rush an answer.”

Going forward, he says he wants to make sure that he’s adding value, whatever it is he does, whether it is in a corporate environment or working for himself. Ultimately he would like to dedicate more time to pursuing his passion for community-based projects.

David admits work does consume much of his life at present, but family, relaxation and life outside work are still very important to him: “If I am not at home relaxing with my beautiful wife, just being, I enjoy spending time outdoors with the other love of my life, my staffie Cooper. I really enjoy collecting and listening to music and this, combined with exercise, is a primary source of relaxation for me.” David and his wife are expecting their first child and are very much looking forward to this new phase of their lives.

Werner Swanepoel, Managing Director of Medical Practice Consulting

Werner Swanepoel’s career kicked off at the age of 16 when he started selling television sets at HiFi Corporation. He loved the challenge of retail and did this right throughout university to assist with managing the ever-notorious student budget.

During his articles at PwC, he was fortunate to have a number of clients in the healthcare industry as he had noted a gap in the market for a systems development company in healthcare with a focus on training and compliance risk management. He subsequently incorporated Medial Practice Consulting (Pty) Ltd – a company of which he is now Managing Director. The company joined the Foundation for Professional Development (FPD) group of companies, of which the ultimate holding company is the South African Medical Association (SAMA).

Within four years, a web-based Training, Risk and Compliance Management System (TRISCOMS) was launched hosting accredited medical CDP courses and medical journal CPD modules and giving medical doctors in rural areas access to accredited training and professional development. Today, TRISCOMS supports more than 10 000 healthcare professionals across all their platforms and hosts medical training content as well as medical journals on behalf of a number of universities and publishers of medical journals. It has recently expanded to the engineering as well as the renewable and sustainable energy industries of South Africa.

Some challenges Werner has faced: “When we incorporated Medical Practice Consulting there weren’t many people that were willing to fund the ideas of a 26 year old, so we had to do without any third-party financial support. The shareholders, who were all below the age of 30 and who had all just started their professional careers, had to fund the research and development costs of TRISCOMS by doing part-time work, which is where I got hooked on lecturing. We were fortunate to have a very talented developer and medical industry wizz on our team from the start.”

Werner still lectures a part-time audit class at Edge Business School, not because he needs to but because he loves it. “I must admit that being married to a very intelligent doctor really helps with all the medical jargon that was definitely not addressed in the accounting syllabus when I attended university,” he says.

Right now Werner is raising awareness for the 2014 HIV/Aids Benefit Concert, which is a Medical Practice Consulting corporate social responsibility initiative to raise public awareness of HIV/Aids. It is also to raise funds to train medical practitioners in HIV/Aids management. With 87 orchestra members on stage, the concert will feature the largest symphony orchestra to perform in South Africa since 1994.

All proceeds of the concert will go to the Southern African HIV Clinicians Society. Says Werner: “We are proud to say that we have put together a 100% South African performance and that we will be bringing together the world of music and healthcare for the benefit of patients and doctors in South Africa.  The concert will be hosted on 29 November 2014 – two days before World Aids Day.”

Werner does not define himself as the stereotypical accountant. He derives his energy from being around people and he’s regularly asked to tone it down a notch. “Don’t get me wrong – I am not saying that I like brightly coloured suits, but I do like my debits with a dash of lemon.”

Vianca Pretorius, Partner and Head of Learning and Development at Grant Thornton

When cars and speed became her passion, Vianca Pretorius wished for a professional career as a Formula 1 racing driver, complete with fancy suit and helmet. She is still very much a fast car fanatic, a dedicated Mercedes AMG fan, and a lady who prefers car magazines to fashion magazines, but she is now also proudly a partner at Grant Thornton.

It was only when she got to university that Vianca really became interested in the CA(SA) route. She did some holiday work with another accounting firm, received a bursary from Grant Thornton where she also completed her articles, and has since swiftly moved through the ranks to become a partner.

“The right leader can empower you to achieve beyond your wildest dreams. When I joined Grant Thornton, I was lucky to be ‘adopted’ by David Reuben. He earmarked me for great things and gave me the wings to fly. He is a true leader, as leadership is all about empowering people,” she says.

“In 2009 I developed the first-ever national model for our firm and am very proud of this project. With input from our international firm, I created a national learning and development model for Grant Thornton South Africa which provides training to over a thousand people in our firm. Although I have moved on in my career, the learning and development foundations I have laid are ongoing, and I enjoy fruitful feedback from our employees.”

In 2013 Vianca was selected as the only South African participant to attend an advanced managers programme covering leadership and business development topics which was delivered by Grant Thornton International over a two-year period in Chicago, Madrid and Bangkok. She was also appointed to the Assurance Division of Grant Thornton’s Johannesburg partnership. “Out of 110 partners in Grant Thornton South Africa I am currently the youngest,” she says. “I continue to head up the national Learning and Development portfolio for Grant Thornton Johannesburg.”

At the top of her bucket list is to attend some of the world’s renowned festivals: “The first is the Carnival of Venice, which will give me the opportunity to experience and travel in Italy, learning about the country and its culture.”

Vianca enjoys participating in 400 m and 800 m sprint events. She and her fiancé, Anton, are also keen Kawasaki super bikers and enjoy spending time on his bike over weekends.

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