Charl de Villiers
Faraimose (Mose) Kutadzaushe
Ideally, Charl de Villiers would have wanted to qualify as both a chartered accountant and an attorney.
When I realised I could realistically only select one speciality, I elected the CA(SA) route for its international recognition and broader general business application. He adds, ‘Looking back I know I have made the right decision and doubt whether I would have had the rapid career growth and experience had I followed a different route.
All the hard work and sacrifice culminated in Charl being awarded his Bachelors of Accounting and Law degree cum laude at the University of Stellenbosch, only one of two students in the class to have achieved this.
Charl started his professional career at Deloitte where he was rated a top-performing trainee and later accepted the opportunity to be retained as an audit manager where he managed a portfolio of select financial services clients in the asset management and reinsurance industries. He joined AfrAsia Corporate Finance (ACF), a boutique corporate finance house, in May 2013.
Charl was quickly promoted from Associate to Principal at ACF and when the bold decision was taken to convert ConvergeNet, a JSE-listed ICT group and key client of ACF, into an investment holding company, he was approached by the shareholders and company to consider taking up the CFO role – which he did in February 2015 at the age of 30.
At that point in time Charl, with the ACF team, had managed the disposal of most of the remaining operating businesses within the ConvergeNet group in less than 12 months as part of the turnaround strategy.
During the 2015/2016 period of conversion to Stellar Capital Partners (Stellar Capital), the company issued seven JSE circulars, reported to be the most of any JSE-listed company during the same period with each circular posing its own set of challenges.
Charl laid the foundation for Stellar Capital as a newly established listed investment holding company to first preserve and then enhance shareholder value.
Besides enjoying weekend golfing, Charl loves collecting vintage wristwatches, especially Swiss chronometers, a fascination that started with the restoration of a vintage Waltham pocket watch.
Commenting on his CSI involvement, he says: ‘As part of the investment strategy and criteria of Stellar Capital we are able to successfully direct and influence the corporate social investment and transformation initiatives of our investee companies to ensure sustainable returns and stakeholder engagement.
Johnathan is a dedicated family man and passionate academic who sees his academic role as an extension of who he naturally is. He enjoys interacting with people and imparting knowledge and strives to develop critical thinkers and graduates who will add value wherever they find themselves.
‘I embrace challenges and enjoy solving problems, he says, adding: ‘It is also important for me to live a life that is as balanced as possible with respect to family, work and my spiritual life. Furthermore, I believe there are no shortcuts to sustained success and therefore hard work, underpinned by excellence and integrity, is a non-negotiable in my life.
An early highlight for Johnathan was being a Top 10 achiever in SAICAs Qualifying Examination (Part I) in 2005. Although Johnathan could not serve as an academic trainee due to the merger of higher education institutions, he was seconded to NMMU for a month during each of his three years of articles. This further stirred his interest in academia after tutoring while a student.
Immediately after articles Johnathan took up a position in academia, lecturing Management Accounting and Finance (MAF) at CTA level. He was promoted to senior lecturer and received the Emerging Teacher of the Year Award in the Faculty of Business and Economic Sciences in 2010.
Another highlight for Johnathan was graduating in 2014 as Top Masters Student with his MCom in Finance from UCT with distinction. He is now also a co-author of the 8th edition of the leading finance textbook in South Africa (Financial Management published by Juta).
At the 2015 Southern African Accounting Association (SAAA) International Conference, Johnathan presented a paper entitled ‘A refined constructive operating lease capitalisation model considering new proposed lease accounting rules. Out of the 69 papers presented, he won two awards, including that of overall best paper.
Today Johnathan is pleased with the great strides taken by the MAF Division at NMMU under his leadership, as well as the successful mentoring system he implemented and oversees for the Thuthuka CTA students. Johnathan was promoted to associate professor in January 2016 and is currently developing an MCom programme specialising in Strategic Management Accounting and Finance.
Johnathan is also a keen runner, having run the Comrades and Two Oceans ultra marathons, among other ultra and standard marathons. ‘I ran my first Comrades Marathon in memory of my late father who tragically passed away as a result of Motor Neuron Disease (MND).
One of Alta-Maris proudest career achievements thus far would be the fact that she comes from a purely financial background and was literally thrown in at the deep end of the manufacturing and renewable energy space. She has thrived and excelled in this male-dominated world.
‘I had to find my feet very quickly and I am now praised by clients that I often know more than the production manager and that Im capable of running the factory.
Not the typical accountant, she says she breaks the mould because shes blonde as can be, not at all quiet or shy, and loves to wear pink, with even her safety shoes flaunting pretty pink shoe laces. She declares, ‘People often look at me and think I am very confident but I still get nervous when I do public speaking.
In December 2013, Alta-Mari joined DCD Wind Towers, the first wind tower manufacturing company in South Africa. As the youngest senior manager at the time, Alta-Mari was responsible for setting up the entire finance department with it becoming the custom of taking over other operations if others were struggling with them.
She finds it absolutely heartbreaking to see how others suffer and has generously assisted the first Imfundo project in building a school in Malabar in Port Elizabeth. The school provides foundation education for previously disadvantaged children ages 3 to 6 who are subject to severe poverty conditions within the area. The school runs without any government assistance and now has 25 children they teach on a daily basis along with providing both breakfast and lunch.
Alta-Mari has since joined forces with RoleModels Foundation and four other Imfundo projects were subsequently introduced throughout South Africa. On weekends she also provides meals to the community, where she serves about 150 people. In 2015, Alta-Mari was awarded the runner-up PPS Professional Woman of the Year in recognition for the work she does with the youth.
With much time spent at the office, on weekends Alta-Mari dedicates her time to her husband and two little girls. She lives close to the beach and spends most of her summertime on it. She also loves running and reading anything she can lay her hands on.
‘I play golf when I can, but my husband says I am his handicap!
Carlo is the type of guy that will play nine holes of golf with you on a Friday afternoon, cycle with the locals on Saturday morning, and run with the die-hard Comrades guys on a Sunday morning. That comes after a board meeting in the week, signing off a new system implementation, and improving the bottom line, all while ensuring his wife and two young boys are cared for too.
After having successfully completed his articles at Baker Tilly Greenwoods in Cape Town with a well-balanced portfolio of clients, Carlo has enjoyed various industry experiences from mining to hospitality and most recently agriculture ‒ wine. Highlights include assisting in establishing a joint venture between Alexkor, the state diamond mine, and the Richtersveld Mining Company. Most recently, he successfully led the Stellenbosch Vineyards team in implementing a new ERP system as well as completing it 30% below budget. Proudly, in each of his roles as head of finance each initiative he has been involved with led to improved profitability and ultimately to healthier organisations.
‘I have a dream that businesses can change the lives of so many and that we as top management have the responsibility to do whatever we can to create profitable businesses that can make differences in peoples lives which will lead to a better life for them and their families. I also have a passion for sport as I truly believe it can be and is an instrument to unite the people of our rainbow nation. I have seen it over and over and want to be part of that.
Carlo is currently involved with Amicus, an organisation that was formed in 2007 between friends from the Dagbreek residence at Stellenbosch University that financially support children with special educational needs from previously disadvantaged backgrounds on wine farms. He is also vice-chairman of the University of the Western Cape Sports Board.
Carlo also has had challenges and setbacks, some more personal than others. From not being picked for leadership roles to failing an exam, sustaining numerous sports injuries, and not being accepted for a job knowing he had a good application. ‘But, he says, ‘Its how you react to these challenges and how you are able to endure in tough times and not lose hope. For me, faith also plays a big role.
Carlos lesson for upcoming CAs(SA): ‘Dont neglect the soft and people skills. In the end, it is how you work with people that will make you stand out and be good in what you do.
Throughout his articles at KPMG, George received high ratings for his strong performance. After articles, he was offered a permanent contract to stay on within the financial services division but he declined and opted to pursue a career in tax instead, within KPMG, with a focus on international tax planning and structuring.
As a ‘little side project to learn more about starting up and operating a business, George and a colleague decided to start a bespoke suit company, Tailor Me. Their intention was to make bespoke accessible and affordable to the South African market and they slowly put the wheels in motion.
After almost two years of international tax and feeling that he had gained the desired level of experience at KPMG, George accepted a financial management position at Bridge Corporate with the intention of better understanding the operational and financial side of a business. However, at Bridge he soon learnt that all was not as it appeared and that Bridge was under financial distress.
He decided to stay and fight the good fight as he felt it would be a great learning experience for him.
George was still running Tailor Me on the side and it was gaining momentum. ‘I would often leave Pretoria at 8 pm after work and drive to Joburg to meet with clients and measure them up.
Most weekends were occupied with fitting clients, meeting suppliers, and spending time with the production team.
Things at Bridge were getting worse and a year later, after exhausting all relevant options, George decided it was best to resign from the company and give Tailor Me his full attention.
Within a year he hired three full-time team members, secured a luxury showroom in Parkhurst and turned over R3,4 million in sales.
‘It has been so rewarding to watch the business grow into one of the leading names in mens bespoke fashion in the country. Our focus has always been to provide a quality product and a personalised service. We are also very proud to be launching our student initiative where we can give a little back to the community.
With property also always holding a big interest for him, George also successfully completed a property development, where he sold off two spec houses.
‘Having to subdivide and rezone the land was a tedious process, but I really enjoyed the design and construction side of the development.
Huzaifah diligently completed his community service in his last years of school, visiting clinics and associations to give back to the community, readying himself for a career in medicine like his late father. He matriculated in the Top 10 in the region, but ditched medicine to pursue engineering instead, then finally switched to BCom. After graduating cum laude with numerous awards, he commenced his articles in Durban at PricewaterhouseCoopers.
‘I found that becoming a CA(SA) would allow me the flexibility to work in a vast array of fields. It is in my opinion, the best qualification for somebody who wants to make a difference in the commercial and social spheres.
After a secondment to Dubai, he joined GUD Holdings (Pty) Ltd as group accountant. ‘With GUD being the leading filter brand in South Africa it is a great company to work for. I was exposed to complex international trade and developed key strategies which saved the group millions.
Huzaifah was promoted to commercial and technical finance manager in 2010, in which year he also won the prestigious Leadership Award.
In 2011 the company decided to expand aggressively into Africa. Huzaifah was chosen to head up this strategic division as part of the Manco. In this year he was awarded the Teamwork Award and again in 2012.
Huzaifah expanded the Africa footprint in 2012 with the establishment of a distribution centre in Mozambique in its entirety, from legal company formation to purchase of machinery. This business has far exceeded profitability expectations to date. He has learnt Portuguese from scratch and presented in Portuguese to dignitaries, media, and customers. In 2013 Huzaifah repeated this feat and inaugurated GUD Filters Zambia Limited. Sales have since increased more than 60%.
Huzaifah was appointed Director: Africa Operations in 2013 at the age of 31 and also started learning French. Revenue has doubled under his leadership and ROI has exceeded 150%. He has worked in over fifteen countries, survived the roughest neighbourhoods, been falsely detained, and held at gunpoint yet opened up new markets such as Ghana, Nigeria, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). ‘It has been the experience of a lifetime, living on the frontier of a changing continent, he says.
Huzaifah is passionate about his family and sports and played a wide variety competitively. His childhood ambition was to change the world. He is doing just that, one continent at a time.
Chantelles mom believed that modern women need to be independent and able to survive todays fast pace world and strongly encouraged her to pursue a career as a CA(SA).
Her parents were not in a financial position to afford her the opportunity to study at university full time, so after Grade 12 Chantelle opted to study through Unisa, commencing immediately with her articles at a small auditing firm.
As a small-town girl of De Aar, Chantelle worked extremely hard for many years to achieve something amazing – not knowing if it would ever really be possible. ‘I think my biggest challenge to date was studying part time for so many years. I had to sacrifice my social and family life as a “20-something-year-old” to achieve my goals. I overcame this challenge by staying committed and focused on the end goal. There was always an end in sight and that kept me going.
After joining Nolands Inc in Cape Town, at the age of 27 Chantelle was offered a junior partnership in the firm, which she sees as one of the highlights of my career: ‘For me, this was a game changer. It triggered within me the belief that I was capable of achieving even more. I felt honoured that they had faith in me to be a part of their business. I respectfully declined and took a decision to work in the corporate environment.
Today, as CFO of the Bombela Concession Company, Chantelle is living her dream as a young independent woman rocking the corporate world. The company was awarded the contract for the design, partial financing, delivery, operations and maintenance of the multi-billion-rand Gautrain Rapid Rail Link and Chantelle has played a major part in the success of this popular public transport system.
As one of Chantelles many achievements, she took on the challenge of building a new budget model from scratch. Her knowledge in financial modelling enabled her to build a model that is dynamic, reliable and accurate. Management and the board of directors now place great value on this model for financial planning and decision-making.
For fun Chantelle thoroughly enjoys the frustrating game of golf and plays beach volleyball and action netball once a week with a group of friends.
‘I am a dreamer and a believer; there is nothing that I think is impossible, states Tumi Hlongwane.
Three years ago, Tumi courageously set out to launch her own business called Mohau Capital, an advisory company which offers valuations, capital raising, and due diligence services to a broad range of clients in various sectors. Being an advisor to clients bidding for large transactions that end up in newspapers is very fulfilling for her.‘ I took it for granted how easy it is when you have a job and you are used to having a boss tell you what is expected of you and you have the infrastructure and an established brand to lean on. I started a corporate finance business from scratch on my own. Ive had to step out of my comfort zone on a daily basis in order to build a track record for Mohau Capital because track record is critical in this business,’ she adds.
‘Generally, I think people think of accountants as corporate people who enjoy desk-bound jobs. I am not an office person; I like to be outdoors meeting people and working from inspiring spaces.
Recently, Tumi says, she even had to purchase a pair of gumboots because one of her clients is in farming. The fact that she did not to need a suit and high heels was rather exciting.
At the height of South Africas recent drought, Mohau Capital managed to assist a client in the agricultural business to raise capital. Tumi and her team were able to package the opportunity to funders in a way that demonstrated sustainability and a strong business case in the midst of tough economic times.
‘I am also excited that my business is starting to get mandates in other parts of Africa.
Tumi is involved in Friends of Diyatalawa, a community upliftment project in the Free State for a community called Diyatalawa, where they have built a computer centre to teach the less privileged how to use computers. She also volunteers her time as a trustee of LoveLife, a national youth upliftment programme.
She serves on a few boards including Mintek and loveLife and is a fellow of the African Leadership Initiative, which is a fellowship based on values-based leadership principles and is associated with the Aspen Institute.
Tumi has completed four international marathons and will be running her fifth marathon this year.
Waseem is one of the youngest CFOs to ever be appointed within the public service. As kid, he would tag along with his dad to his surgery and watch how his father, with his kind and generous manner, engaged with his patients, and how they in turn trusted him so much.
‘The way you treat people and build relationships is so important and should never be underestimated, says Waseem. ‘In corporate jargon we rephrase it as “client or customer service”. There is sometimes this misconception that you need to be the meanest leader in the room to get things done. I think thats an approach thats destined to fail.
Although his granddad, dad and uncle were all medical doctors, Waseem broke the family tradition and followed the CA(SA) route, starting out his career as an academic article trainee in the University of Pretoria Accounting Department.
‘I really developed a love for training and development of people and especially young people at the university. You develop a unique set of skills very different to that of the corporate world working in an academic environment.
Although he says he was a rather poor public speaker when he started out, in time he managed to improved his set skills set and become a motivator to many of his students. ‘I was able to become a mentor for many of those students and I have been able to keep in touch, follow their careers and watch them achieve their own great things in life.
After going through a competitive process of interviews and psychometric assessments, at just 26 years old, Waseem Carrim was appointed CFO of the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA).
At the NYDA, he faced his own set of challenges. Says Waseem: ‘When I first joined, people felt I was too young and didnt have what it takes to get the job done. Others said I was crazy to take the job of CFO at the NYDA. They said to me its the public service, difficult environment, the NYDA is plagued by a history of challenges, no political support to succeed.
Waseem soon set them straight. During his first year as CFO, the NYDA achieved an unqualified audit opinion. In his second year, the NYDA achieved its first clean audit opinion from the Auditor-General of South Africa, reduced irregular expenditure by 97%, eliminated all matters of non-compliance, and achieved its highest organisational performance in history, placing the NYDA in the top tier of government agencies.
Waking up at 04:30, sometimes to freezing cold Free State mornings, Johans first job entailed delivering newspapers on his bicycle. It was not always the easiest task for a little Grade 5 student, but he says it taught him his first vital lessons that would aid his career later: self-discipline, hard work and dedication.
‘I guess through these childhood lessons I managed to surprise mostly myself in finalising my CA(SA) qualification, says Johan.
While successfully climbing the corporate ladder, during his employment at Optimum and part of the Glencore Group, Johan managed to complete an MBA over two years. This exposed him to great leaders and diverse views from various professions in South Africa and other African nations.
After a two-year stint in Switzerland with Glencore International, Johan got the opportunity to relocate back to South Africa as Group Financial Director of Rolfes Holdings, a JSE-listed company that operates from Johannesburg and has a global footprint in Africa and Europe.
Setting into his role exceptionally well, Johan has successfully established a diversified and skilled team within seven months and has been involved in investor presentations on behalf of the group.
As young CA(SA) and leader in South Africa, Johan would like to play an active role in empowering young professionals. ‘In my current role at Rolfes Holdings and as a member of the main board of the group, I have the opportunity and platform to actively participate in transforming and developing young skills in South Africa, he says.
‘I have a vision to transform and empower young skills in South Africa through value-based leadership. Through active daily management, I want to play an active role in transforming and empowering skills in the country.
With his father recently being diagnosed with motor neuron disease (MND), Johan and his brother will attempt Comrades 2017 in order to raise awareness and funds for this medical condition through the J9 Foundation – a registered charity set up by rugby legend Joost van der Westhuizen in aid of MND sufferers. ‘It will be my first attempt in an ultra-marathon. The foundation supports 64 beneficiaries in South Africa with medical assistance and research.
In July 2016 Johan joined his company CEO and colleagues as agents for change in the annual CEO sleep-out on Nelson Mandela Bridge as part of the Sun International CEO SleepOut™.
Growing up in Soweto in a family with only one parent as the breadwinner was tough for Raymond. For a long time his mother struggled to find a job and his father had to work very hard to be able to support a family of six.
‘When I was in high school, a conversation I had with my father changed how I saw my last year of high school. He told me that there was no money to take me to university. This conversation made me work extra hard and at the end of matric I passed with three distinctions and secured myself a bursary to further my studies.
Towards the end of his articles in 2010, Raymond was seconded to the PwC Chicago office for seven months. This was his first time leaving South Africa and also his first time on an aircraft.
‘My trip to the US ignited a spark and a desire for me to travel the world. When I returned from Chicago, I sought opportunities to work outside South Africa. I found a great opportunity with PwC to help companies listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange convert their reporting framework from Nigerian GAAP to IFRS.
Besides the United States and Nigeria, Raymond has enjoyed work experience in Egypt, Kenya and numerous other African countries.
Upon returning from his mission in Nigeria, he joined PwC as the Southern Africas Innovation Manager and helped develop the innovation strategy for the firm. Just five months after he started his two-year journey towards studying for his MBA, he got an incredible offer from Barclays Africa Group to join their Product Control (Change) team where the corporate and investment bank was implementing a number of systems and processes in 12 locations across the African continent. Joining Barclays to work on this project is a decision Raymond says is one of the best hes made in his life.
Raymond is the co-founder and CEO of Diski Nine9, an NGO that uses soccer as a tool to educate and empower South African youth. He has been awarded the 2016 Mandela Washington Fellowship, President Barack Obamas flagship programme for Young African Leaders (YALI).
He was selected as one of 100 global students to participate in the 2015 MBA World Summit in Barcelona, Spain. He has been appointed the head of the 2018 MBA World Summit Organising Committee where he will lead a team based in South Africa and Germany to organise this annual educational event scheduled to take place in Cape Town.
In 2008, Mose achieved his dream of becoming a chartered accountant by qualifying with results that placed him in the national top ten candidates in Zimbabwe. Not wasting any time, he immediately sat for the examinations to convert his qualification into a CA(SA) qualification as well.
‘I was fortunate enough to land a secondment to work at Deloitte Philadelphia for a three-month secondment, during which I invested a lot of time in learning about the various MBAs that were offered in the United States. After completion of his secondment, Mose resigned from his position at Deloitte in Zimbabwe and after a challenging job search, he got a good job at Deloitte Consulting in Pretoria.
In 2010, at the age of 27, Mose teamed up with three of his friends and they founded Supreme Brands, a company that manufactures toilet paper products in Zimbabwe. They aimed to make a difference by creating employment that is much needed in the economy.
‘My dad had just recently passed away so my mother provided me and my friends with a great support structure that made the formation of this company a success. She picked up the reins of operating the business as its CEO.
Supreme Brands quickly gained traction and two years later I decided to fulfil my “note to self” to one day apply to business school.
Mose was accepted by Stanford Business School. He received a merit-based scholarship from investment bank Goldman Sachs, which he subsequently joined after graduating. While at Goldman he worked as a senior associate in the San Francisco office advising large multinational companies on multi-billion-dollar MA, IPO and debt transactions.
His company was identified by the largest wholesaling group in Zimbabwe, N-Richards, who admitted Supreme Brands into their selective supplier development programme as a leader in the toiletry segment in all of the groups 26 outlets.
Supreme Brands currently supplies all leading retailers in Zimbabwe and occupies more than 80% of the nationwide toilet paper shelf space in some retailers. It also manufactures the house brand of OK Zimbabwe, one of the largest retailers in Zimbabwe. The company currently employs 77 people and has generated revenues in excess of R70 million since inception, with the bulk of this over the past two years.
Mose is also a CFA charter holder.
Louw Barnardts career as an entrepreneur began at the age of six when he discovered that marshmallow cookies could be sold at a very good mark-up and that most people loved them.
‘Those who didnt initially want them could almost always be convinced by a blonde, blue-eyed boy that was determined enough to keep trying after a few noes. Kids also love surprises, so our surprise crackers with their sweets, small toys and a R20 reward in every hundredth one were also a hit in the otherwise fairly dull Kimberley market, he says.
‘Audit was a bitter pill to swallow many days, but those years taught me the professional and practical skills needed as a CA and businessman. It also gave me the opportunity to learn from many other entrepreneurs successes and mistakes. Seeing the general lack of financial knowledge that many private companies are run with formed part of the formation of the concept of an outsourced CFO.
Louw and Dana Pretorius founded OutsourcedCFO, a financial management boutique, straight out of articles in December 2013. ‘We more or less had clarity on what we wanted to do. By that time we had completed a business incubation course part-time and spent many nights networking at the entrepreneurial events that Cape Town have to offer. We were signed off at Greenwoods end of November and started work at the Bandwidth Barn first thing that December, having completely parted with the idea of ever working for someone for any kind of salary. This first step was critical.
In their first year, with a little help from Louws wife, they landed a massive takeover in the diamond mining industry. ‘My wife sat on a plane next to the CEO, who wanted to meet us after hearing what we do. No marketing channel could beat that!
This engagement made Louw the financial head of a takeover of two diamond mines by a consulting engineering group. OutsourcedCFO has helped raise more than R100 million in growth funding for start-ups in the last 12 months and has an annualised growth rate exceeding 100% per annum. Louws work in the tech start-up and finance space has recently seen him named among the Fast Company Top 20 under 30.
‘Breaking R100 million in growth financing raised by our clients was a big highlight earlier this year! We now look forward to breaking R1 billion raised for SMEs.
Siyanda started out his studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in 2004 and went on to finish his undergraduate and postgraduate studies in the top 5%.
‘I was fortunate enough to follow the non-traditional TOPP stream and focused on finance during my articles with Standard Bank. This gave me a unique opportunity to learn about the rather intricate world of financial markets from a young age.
His private equity career began at Vantage Capital, and with his good work ethic and sharp technical skills, Siyanda has worked his way up to CFO of Vantage Capital Group.
After spending three years at Vantage Capital as financial controller and right-hand man of the CFO, he was approached by three partners in the process of starting a new private equity firm, Kleoss Capital. Leaving his cushioned position at Vantage Capital he joined as CFO of Kleoss and assisted with the establishment of the fund, fundraising presentations, admission of investors into the fund, and deal sourcing.
From 1 June 2016, Siyanda has re-joined Vantage Capital Group as its CFO effectively heading up the finance function of a fund manager with R8 billion assets under management.
Being under the age of 35, Siyanda is grateful for the exposure to industries and ideas that a lot of people never get to see in their lifetime. ‘I see this as a responsibility I am inheriting to ensure that the wide spectrum of opportunities I have been presented to are not limited to myself but are also presented to other young people out there, he says.
‘By the time I turn 35 I aim to have groomed at least one other young person out there to be in the position that I am in – or better. Having come from less privileged schools, I am acutely aware of the devastating results of poor-quality education – which range from high drop-out rates to inadequate preparation for tertiary education, high unemployment, and general hopelessness in the community. I am passionate about improving the state of our public education in previously disadvantaged communities and was recently part of the SAICA/Gauteng Department of Education School Governing Body (SGB) programme where a CA(SA) was allocated to the school governing body of a poorly performing school as a means of improving overall performance of these schools.’
Siyanda is a member of the CSI Committee at Vantage Capital, which supports initiatives in education and skills development, childrens homes and healthcare.
Along with three other young professionals, during his articles Graeme conceived the concept of Bokamoso Education. Founded in 2008, today the education trust amazingly funds quality education of 51 children whose parents are unable to afford the fees.
After successfully completing his articles, Graeme decided to trade his laptop and CA salary for a khaki uniform, rifle and salary that was well below the tax rebate. He was off to become a game ranger in the Lowveld.
‘The decision to become a game ranger after articles was peculiar, Graeme explains. ‘Here is my rationale: I have always been passionate about wildlife and especially birding. What better way to spend two years after articles than learning as much as you can about the Lowveld, enjoying my time with like-minded colleagues, learning the bewildering art of tracking from my new Shangaan friends ‒ tracking illusive leopards and lions daily and meeting and learning from the worlds most successful businessmen over dinner? Most importantly, it was an opportunity to spend time by myself and objectively assess what I really wanted to do with my career.
Londolozi Game Reserve in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve ‒ voted the best of the worlds Top 100 resorts and hotels by readers of Condé Nast Traveler magazine in 2014 ‒ became his home and employer for the next two years. And it was here that Graeme met his wife, Jacqui, who was a camp manager at the time. It was here too that his friendship with James Hobson strengthened. James would later become his business partner and a vital part of the successful building of Blue Recruiting.
Graeme is the MD and founder of Blue Recruiting, a specialist financial recruitment business in alignment with KPMG and housed in their offices. Knowing he wanted to establish a business of his own, Graeme conceived the idea of building a financial recruitment business linking the financial staffing needs of KPMGs clients with the career ambitions of the CAs(SA) in its alumni network. In just more than two and a half years Blue Recruiting has placed over 100 CAs(SA) (and part-qualified candidates) at all levels.
They were endorsed at the 2015 KPMG South Africa Alumni event by the CEO of KPMG and highlighted as one of KPMG South Africas recent innovations. They were also featured at the 2016 KPMG EMEA Talent Management Conference in Europe this year.
In 2014, Greg joined the VAT IT Groups London office to help develop, launch and monetise a new app, the VAT Cloud. The app automates the VAT recovery process by integrating into clients systems and generating cash refunds seamlessly. Since then, he and his team have implemented the app with the top expense management systems, including MasterCard and Concur, who was acquired by SAP. This made the app commercial and scalable with some cool technology like OCR software.
Says Greg: ‘Although the business is established, I had the opportunity to run a tech start-up under the VAT IT umbrella and backing. Now the team continues to roll out our product to blue-chip multinationals covering the worlds largest companies, some with headcounts of over 300 000 and revenues of over $10 billion.
Over the past year Greg has taken over management of the groups UK Irish subsidiary. This branch is the largest VAT recovery business in the group with 23 staff and over 1 000 clients, mostly in the UK and Ireland. ‘Since January 2016, our branch has met monthly targets with approximately 30% year-on-year growth. My personal goal is to double the business by year end. The growth is mainly fuelled by the automated VAT Cloud product, he says.
Greg did his articles at KPMG FS Johannesburg in 2011 after completing a PGDA at UCT. His client portfolio included four of the Top 5 banks in the country. He then went on to lead these engagements for the firm.
In 2013, Greg completed two consecutive assignments in different departments, the first for KPMG Corporate Finance and the second for KPMG Orange County in California. Both were short and sweet as he decided to move into a more entrepreneurial role in the Fintech space.
‘There have been many lessons that Ive learnt along the way but the greatest is probably to think big, focus and deliver, says Greg.
Greg is also part of a team of young professionals who co-founded Chapter2, a charity which started in 2012 and is aimed at restoring basic rights in South Africa.
Goals Greg still wishes to achieve? ‘Im getting married next year so I guess thats the next big thing. On the career side, Id like to run a massive company one day.
As a young boy, Liaans dream was to become a pilot. Flying, he says, ‘has always seemed so magical. I have the fondest memories of micro-light flights with a family friend as a boy. The dream remains alive!
Besides looking for a career that would provide personal growth and evolving challenge, his uncle, Andre Kretzschmar, a CA(SA) and managing partner of what is today Mazars Pretoria, inspired him to pursue a CA(SA) career.
‘I recall doing some holiday work at my uncles firm – the buzz of the business world was something that I immediately knew made me tick.
After qualifying in 2007, Liaan and his wife Illana, also a CA(SA), decided it was time to spread their wings and explore the wider world, moving to the UK in early 2008. They both joined KPMGs Gatwick office as assistant audit managers.
From KPMG, Liaan joined the McLaren Group of companies in 2010 as the Group Reporting Manager. The group includes McLaren F1 Racing and McLaren Automotive and was an audit client of Liaans while he was still with KPMG.
The couples first-born son, Luan, arrived in early 2010 and after a while the tug of home and family became too strong to ignore. The family decided to move back to South Africa at the end of 2011.
In January 2012 Liaan joined Volvo Group SA (Volvo Trucks) as chief accountant. In September 2012 he was promoted to the position of Regional Manager SA – Volvo Group Business Services.
Liaan was selected to his current role as Finance Director – Jaguar Land Rover SA SSA in January 2014, aged 31. ‘I have during this time made an impact by bringing stability to the local company whilst the business has been undergoing substantial change and growth. I am particularly proud that I have, together with the MD and wider management team, delivered strong financial results to our parent company, despite significant economic challenges during the past 24 months.
Liaan is one of only six candidates globally that have been selected in 2016 for Jaguar Land Rovers high-performance development programme, Advance, which develops high-potential leaders towards future senior leadership and executive roles.
Liaan loves spending time with his family. He is an active member of his local church, Every Nation Tshwane, and serves in a variety of ways ‒ from teaching to leading small groups. He also enjoys outdoor pursuits such as fishing, cycling and golf.