Meet Professor Nirupa Padia – the new Head of the School of Accountancy at the University of Witwatersrand (WITS).
Professor Nirupa Padia is the Head of the School of Accountancy at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits). She is the first black female Associate Professor in Auditing. Prof Padia, a Chartered Accountant, passed the qualifying Board examination in 1996 and later completed a Masters degree in Commerce.
After completing her articles at PwC, Padia joined Wits to commence a successful academic career. Over her 12 years at Wits, she has made her mark through her inspired teaching of prospective CAs(SA) and her
instrumental influence on post-graduate studies. Padia has represented the School of Accountancy on various university platforms as well as in the profession by sitting as an academic representative on the Auditing
Guidance committee of SAICA, as well as on the board of the PwC Business School.
We ask Professor Nirupa Padia a few questions about life, work and family.
How would you desc ribe yourself in three words?
Calm, committed and caring.
Being a female and one of the five non –white students at Wits in the ‘80s – was that enough motivation for you to do well? How did you feel then? Was it a difficult journey?
Being the first in my family to attend university was exciting and I felt blessed. Every path I’ve chosen has been a growth experience and I’ve learnt a lot. I’m grateful to look back and appreciate where I come
from to where I am now. I would like to say to others that commitment and perseverance do eventually bear fruit. And they should continue even when it appears impossible.
How important was it for you to ta ke time off from your studies to focus on building your family ?
My (late) husband and children have been the pillar of strength in my life. Taking time out from studying to be with them has been one of the best decisions I have ever made. I have three devoted and loving sons who have followed in their father’s footsteps and all became successful dentists. And today I have family, career and a spiritual master which gives me total balance.
Did that pay off?
I am proud of my family and really do feel that the time spent during my sons’ childhood years has helped them become strong, confident and successful young men.
You have spent most of your yea rs as a CA(SA) at Wits in different roles, would you say academia is your first love ?
I love people and the development of people is a true passion of mine. I like to help a person which is why I see my career in academia as being one well suited to me. My first love is actually my spiritual master Sri
Ravi Shankar and the Art of Living which gives me the strength to do what I do in academia.
Your appointment as the head of the School of Accountancy , did it come as a surprise?
A year ago I would never have thought of myself as the new head of the School of Accountancy, so yes it has come as a big surprise. However, in looking back at the past year and noticing how hard I persevered to be promoted to an Associate Professor, I think that perhaps intuitively I knew that I needed to up my game.
When the position of head of school became available I saw it as an opportunity to offer a service to the staff and students of the School of Accountancy.
What would you consider as your greatest career highlight to date?
Definitely being promoted to be the head of school which is recent. However, my return to Wits as a student at the age of 32 and passing final year and the qualifying board exam on my first attempt was
definitely a highlight of my career, especially after almost 10 years of being a housewife.
What do you see as a role of professional women in their communities ?
Professional women should be role models in their communities and keep in mind that the profession is one aspect of life. For us as women to enhance our communities we need to maintain our human value of caring, sharing and giving back. This will encourage a sense of harmony. Women should keep in mind their self-worth as they have the power to be the mechanism for change.
What makes Wits University special to you?
Wits is special to me as I came to Wits as a student in the early 80’s, as a mature student in the mid 90’s and as an academic in 2001. My late husband and all my children have also been at Wits. To me Wits represents high quality and standards with global recognition. I have seen Wits and in particular the School of Accountancy change over this time. And it is with great pleasure and pride that I am now the head of a school where many staff members have been my students. I am a true Witsie!
Are you results driven?
Results can be achieved through being calm, focused, dynamic and hard working. However, I believe that the student experience today is very stressful and competitive. I hope to achieve very high throughput
with maintaining high quality with an excellent student experience.
Wits’ School of Accountancy has a SAICA Level 1 accreditation status , what does that mean to the university?
The University recognises that the School of Accountancy (SOA) is a professional school as its relationship with SAICA is a valuable one.
The SAICA Level 1 accreditation status is the top level of accreditation and therefore the University would want the SOA to maintain this on an on-going basis. The SOA is aligned to the University-wide vision for 2022 which is to be within the top 100 research intensive universities in the world. The SOA is therefore focused on its postgraduate studies and research output as an imperative goal as well.
Author: Netshivhambe Mpho