Home Articles LEAD: Top 35-under-35: MEET THE FINALISTS


Patrick Martin, 34

Lyndsay Maseko, 34

Xolani Sithole, 32

Ryan Mer, 32

Nirakasha Sookraj, 31

Ismail Seedat, 34

Sedzani Musundwa, 33

Daylan Staude, 33

Rikus Vorster, 32

Abed Tau, 28

Kamini Moodley, 34

Nico van der Merwe, 35

Garth Pretorius, 33

Stuart Allan van der Veen, 30

Pieter van Niekerk, 31

Pieter van der Zwan, 33

Justin van Wyk, 34

Gerhard Visagie, 33






Patrick Martin, 34Patrick_2016


According to his colleagues, Patrick is held in high esteem and is said to be a ‘getting things done’ type of person. Soon after joining the Rema Tip Top / Dunlop group – an international group consisting of 23 local companies ranging from 100% subsidiaries to 50% joint ventures to associates – Patrick, continually looking for challenges and business growth, went beyond the call of duty by initiating and implementing strategic planning. This resulted in the net profit of the group being impacted positively. His hard work and exceptional management skills paid off and he achieved the status of financial director at an early age of 33. His dynamic influence on the business has been significant.

Being a young South African and having a firm appreciation of the South African business climate, especially with regard to empowerment, Patrick approached his then CEO and requested that the group make a small investment in drafting a robust joint venture agreement with a BEE partner he had identified. This resulted in the establishment of Dunlop Industrial Africa (Pty) Ltd. Although no significant equity was required, the first year of trading achieved a turnover of R55 million followed by R76 million in 2015. Showing exponential growth, it is expected to achieve north of R100 million in 2016.

The single greatest lesson Patrick has learned so far that may help other young upcoming CAs(SA): ‘Just keep going regardless of failures and setbacks – they make you strong and resilient. Many doors will open to you once you qualify. Your learnt good business skills will get you through many a crisis.’

His next step would ideally be CEO, although he aspires to achieve much more than this. His family is of paramount importance to him so his dreams and goals would embrace them fully in achieving a balanced lifestyle.

His hobbies include watching his son play soccer on a Saturday morning (he is a Chelsea supporter), motor racing and running.

Lyndsay Maseko, 34Lyndsay_2016


‘You have no ambition … ‘ and ‘Was the money not enough … ’! Two reactions received after Lyndsay had rejected job offers in pursuit of a career in academia – the former from a partner at a Big Four audit firm and the latter from an HR executive at one of South Africa’s biggest listed entities – motivated him to break the mould of what defines ‘success’. ‘My CA designation has never been my measure of success and financial privilege. It represents my stepping stone to greatness.’

In 2008, Lyndsay became the first black CA(SA) to be appointed at UJ. Since then he has lectured in all four accountancy disciplines, three of those at CTA level. ‘I thrive on challenges and is very comfortable leaving comfort for the unknown, ‘he says. Lyndsay obtained a master’s degree in computer auditing with a minor dissertation that was assessed well above the 75th percentile.

‘I’m not in this for the accolades. I’m in it to change lives.’ As CTA, board course and professional programme lecturer, Lyndsay treasures the unique opportunity he has to mould, encourage and nurture the future of the profession. ‘Lecturing is a passion … one that ensures that I never work day in my life.’

Lyndsay is also a shareholder, director and lecturer at APT (one of SAICA’s accredited professional programme providers), serves as audit committee chairman of Safika Resources (Pty) Ltd, and is a co-opted member of the UJ Tender Committee approving all tenders in excess of R1 million while ensuring stringent governance principles are adhered to.

Along with being actively involved with lectures for the Thuthuka Fund, Lyndsay assists with annual career days organised by the Tirisano Foundation, an NPO uplifting scholars in Soweto, and has recently established an academic mentorship and bursary programme in his hometown, Aberdeen in the Eastern Cape, to acknowledge academic excellence in this rural community.

‘All I have, though, is not of my own doing because credit must go to the numerous answered prayers of my grandmother who raised me; my dad who inspires me; my mom who believes in me; my siblings who support me; and my beautiful wife and children who love and motivate me.’

Lyndsay dreams of pioneering high-performance schools in South Africa’s disadvantaged communities where scholars are not just taught the value of education but the power of education.

‘If you can dream it, you can be it!’

Xolani Sithole, 32Xolani_2016


Xolani’s attraction to the CA(SA) profession rose from an unlikely source. Since he lived in a shack, his family had many practical uses for the old newspapers his mother brought from work. However, before using the newspapers his mother would make him read them because although she didn’t have much education, she admired her educated boss and felt smart people read newspapers. It was here that Xolani kept noticing job adverts for CAs(SA) in different companies and industries.

‘My conclusion was that this CA(SA) qualification must be one of those qualifications that guarantee job opportunities. The profession I really knew a lot about, teaching, was in oversupply and it was becoming common to find qualified teachers packing groceries in OK stores. I had decided that being the eldest and the only boy, it was upon me to take my family out of poverty.’

Xolani credits his career success to his firm belief that any problem that is created can be solved. This has kept him resilient to provide hope to any person or situation, against all odds.

Xolani quickly rose through the ranks and held various key positions. His most recent appointment has been MD of Sebenza, a company with a turnover above R50 million and assets worth R100 million. Sebenza’s parent company, Makana Investment Corporation, is an inspirational company established to look after destitute families of former Robben Island prisoners.

Xolani has also served as the CFO of Makana. Xolani started his career at Sebenza as the Group Financial Manager eight years ago. In his career at Sebenza, he has achieved a 60% reduction in audit time and costs, improving the BEE rating from a level 5 to a sustainable level 2. He recently implemented a turnaround strategy that moved Sebenza from loss-making (R17 million) to profit-making within six months.

Xolani values people and is devoted to giving back to the community in various notable ways. ‘Each person has something unique to contribute. Sometimes people are crippled by the hardships they have. When somebody takes a moment to give them a sense of dignity, that is when their best comes out.’

Xolani’s greatest passion outside of work is conducting free personal finance lectures. He firmly believes that such education can free up many households from hardships.

Ryan Mer, 32Ryan_2016


After realising that wearing a Springbok jersey was only going to happen as a fan, Ryan came to love the idea of being an entrepreneur. At a young age, he would sell juice and chips straight from his mother’s pantry to builders and anyone passing by in the neighbourhood. He even tried to breed and sell silkworms to other kids at school, until his parents decided it was time to shut down the operation.

After completing his traineeship, Ryan did a secondment in the Grant Thornton Los Angeles office with two good friends. This was an amazing experience for him – not only did he have the time of his life but he also came across what would be his business today.

Upon returning to South Africa, with bags barely unpacked Ryan, along with one of those friends, Brett Chait, decided to pursue his entrepreneurial aspirations, and electronic bank audit confirmations were going to be the first venture. ‘Sitting in coffee shops as we began to set our vision in motion is something I look back on fondly. Starting a business with a good friend has been so much fun and a definite highlight,’ says Ryan.

Along the way, they were approached by CQS, an established player in the audit software space, to partner on this venture. This partnership, having worked so well, has been an achievement in Ryan’s journey.

‘The feeling of signing our first bank and audit firm was one of sheer elation; I knew it meant we had a business and no longer just an idea. Improving how all the major banks and audit firms in South Africa go about doing confirmations has been a major achievement. I am proud to say that even though I am a long way from where I ultimately dream of being, in a matter of a few years we have achieved a sustainable, strong business with all the attributes that allow us to be well positioned to take advantage of growth and additional business opportunities, which we are in the process of pursuing,’ explains Ryan.

It’s not all business, though. ‘It’s important to lead a balanced life; I try to stay fit, strong and healthy through boxing, gym, and other kinds of exercise. I also love music, travelling, socialising and the African bush.’ Right now he’s bursting with excitement, as he’s going to be a first-time father soon.

Nirakasha Sookraj, 31Nirakasha_2016


Nirakasha describes herself as a self-motivated, optimistic and ambitious individual. Her parents played a major role in guiding her beliefs and instilled within her a strong value system enabling her to be the successful woman that she is today.

‘The CA profession has always offered a world of opportunities. Our training extends beyond finance and auditing and I love that the profession provided such adaptability and flexibility making the world your oyster,’ she says.
‘My dad once wrote me a birthday card that I’d never forget,’ she says. ‘It read:  “To my loving daughter: do not forget the 3 Ds of life, live these 3 Ds each day, Direction, Dedication and Determination”.’ These three values are used by her in every facet of her life.

Completing her articles at Moore Stephens CJL, where she grew from a trainee into a qualified CA(SA) and audit manager, formed the basis of her foundation.
Nirakasha then joined the Bidvest Freight Division as a finance manager at Bidvest Tank Terminals, where she fell in love with the world of finance. This role proved to be a steep learning curve where she was continuously challenged to think differently. She played a key role in keeping the finance team focused on their core goals and embarked on numerous projects that assisted in streamlining processes within the organisation.

‘Thereafter I was recommended for an opportunity to become a finance director at Bidvest SACD. I have always been very ambitious and this was a goal that I worked towards tirelessly. This opportunity realised my vision of becoming a finance director before I turned 30. It then dawned upon me that I would be the youngest director within the Bidvest Freight Division. I am very proud to be part of a group where age is not a barrier to climbing the corporate ladder and each day I learn something new.’

Nirakasha is the deputy chairperson of the KZN committee of African Women Chartered Accountants, a non-profit organisation aimed at inspiring and assisting young aspiring and qualified CAs(SA). She is also a member of SAICA’s YCAN Eastern Region.

She enjoys building scale models such as bikes and her most recent project is a Mercedes-Benz 300SL.

Her motto is: ’Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again’ (Nelson Mandela)..

Ismail Seedat, 34ismail-photo


Ismail has always been inspired by his parents – especially his father Ebrahim, a CA(SA), who in 1976 was the first black article clerk to join Ernst and Winnie (now EY) in Durban. ‘I was always a techie at heart and wanted to follow my IT dream. Then the dotcom bubble burst and I realised that maybe that was not a sustainable option.

‘I have probably come full circle now that I am a CA(SA) working in a tech company. I’ve now got the best of both worlds working as a CA(SA) interacting with web developers, digital marketers and analysts.’

Starting off as an audit trainee, Ismail moved up the ranks to senior manager at KPMG in Durban benefiting from an audit unit which provided opportunities to audit banks and unit trusts to industrial and FMCG concerns. He was also given the opportunity to be a part of a global team on a climate change and sustainability review engagement for a listed client receiving various encore awards during his tenure at KPMG. Recognising his potential, the partners nominated him for a secondment to Grindrod Freight Services, as acting Divisional Head of Finance.

‘The opportunity arose at One Africa Media where having initially supported the CFO in Durban I am now responsible for financial oversight of our Nigeria and Ghana operations. Under the mentorship of Justin Clarke – 2014 EY Entrepreneur of the Year – I was given the freedom and flexibility to be involved in strategic decision-making and excelled in innovative thinking by identifying a niche in funding Nigeria’s financially excluded population. I built a model, created all the documents and entered into the company’s first vehicle sale agreement and I am now leading the product thinking on solving rental property finance in Nigeria.’

Uprooting his family to Lagos has been a challenge, after being met with shock and trepidation from family and friends when he informed them of their move. ‘Those emotions were warranted – after all, Boko Haram attacks were almost a daily occurrence, Ebola was prevalent, malaria was rife, and many had to deal with fuel and electricity shortages. However, we as a family are really thriving during our time away and enjoying the togetherness of bonding as a family,’ he says.

’Never be afraid of stepping out of your comfort zone,’ is his adage. ‘Once we have left the refuge of what we are accustomed to will we truly understand how much room there is to develop and grow.’

Sedzani Musundwa, 33Sedzani_2016


Sedzani is a woman who has great dreams for the African continent. After completing her articles at a Big Four firm, Sedzani immediately went back to her alma mater (University of Johannesburg) to give back to the system that had helped her achieve her success.

She also then commenced with her master’s degree, knowing this would be her first official attempt in achieving her dream of changing Africa.

After five years at UJ, she felt she had achieved everything she had aimed for and was hungry for more. Not quite sure what ‘more’ was, she decided to take a year to try and find out.

’I came full circle – I was hungry to change Africa and education was the only way to do it. I decided to join the University of Pretoria (UP) as it is well recognised for its research output and this would be the gateway to my PhD.’

About 14 months into her employment at UP she was offered the post of Thuthuka Programme Manager and gladly accepted. ‘Talk about the universe conspiring to ensure I actually fulfil my person. Here was a role that meant teaching would not be the only tool I could use to effect change; I could finally invest hours in understanding exactly why the black child struggles to succeed in this accounting phenomenon.’

Today Sedzani proudly heads up the Thuthuka Programme at UP, as this is directly aligned with her life values. Being an accessible role model for hundreds of black students leaves her feeling like she doesn’t work a day in her life.

Attesting to her dedication and contribution to the development of global young leaders, in April 2016 Sedzani was awarded a Silver Angel Award at the annual G200 Youth Forum in Germany. She is an executive member of the international G200 Association based in Switzerland, an organisation that gathers young leaders from across the world. Her aim of bringing African issues to the fore and attracting more African students and professors was the reason for her joining the organisation in 2012.

Sedzani has recently started to study towards her PhD, which will focus on addressing socio-economic issues encountered in accounting education in South Africa. ‘I summited Mount Kilimanjaro for my 30th birthday and it looks like I’m going to summit the highest education peak for my 35th! Perhaps we can add the Comrades Marathon to that just for balance.’

Daylan Staude, 33Dylan_2016


Daylan’s perfect day would start off on a tropical island with a perfect ocean view, a good book and freshly brewed cup of coffee ‒ but in reality, he says, the perfect day would probably be one with no traffic on the way to work, his students all arriving for class on time, his lecture delivery flawlessly, and his students achieving 100% for their last assessment.

Daylan has developed an enormous passion for teaching and transforming the profession and some of his proudest moments at the University of Fort Hare include being awarded the Vice Chancellor’s Teaching Excellence award in 2014 and the excellent performance of the students in the 2016 ITC exam where, the University of Fort Hare, along with the University of Pretoria, came first in the country. Daylan believes that his success is measured through the success of his students.

Prior to joining the University of Fort Hare, Daylan spent ten years in practice at Moore Stephens in East London. At the age of 28, after being offered partnership within the audit firm, he put his career path and future under the microscope.

‘I have always worked hard to try and achieve my full potential and was rewarded accordingly. However, it was at this point, the top of the ladder so to speak, that I felt that I needed to evaluate my current and future career path. I had always been passionate about the development of my audit staff and had been actively involved in training and mentoring of the trainees. This, along with my strong technical ability led me into focusing my career on academia.’

In 2011, Daylan joined the University of Fort Hare. For two years he lectured Accounting 3 and in 2013 was placed in the role of PGDA/CTA taxation lecturer. Daylan is also involved in the Tax Honours degree, is subject head of Taxation, and the PGDA/CTA programme co-ordinator.

‘I have developed my passion for teaching and cannot think of a more suitable and rewarding career. In order to become a “master” within my profession, I have completed my masters in commerce as well as assessment and moderation modules,’ he says.

‘On the less serious side, I think there is nothing better than a good old-fashioned laugh. I often joke around with my colleagues but I definitely don’t have a poker face and most of the time, I give myself away.’

Rikus Vorster, 32Rikus_2016


Rikus believes life is full of exciting challenges and the actions taken will vary widely depending on what the challenge is.

‘To use a golfing analogy –100% of putts left short of the hole don’t go in. Without sufficient action, there will be no change in the situation,’ Rikus explains. ‘When I had the challenge of a shortfall in funds to study, I was fortunate enough to get a flight ticket to the UK, and then worked for 18 months in hotels and security sites to save enough money to fund my degree. The list of challenges can go on, but I see perseverance as one of the most important attributes to deal with challenges.’

While travelling the UK after school, Rikus worked hard to save money for his studies. One of his jobs was a security guard at the London Stock Exchange. ‘Seeing the people come in to work there every day motivated me to want to be on the other side of the table if I were to ever return to the Stock Exchange. I figured that becoming a CA would be a step in the right direction.’

His career started with Deloitte, where he served his training contract after which he briefly went on an audit secondment to Deloitte Boston. Upon his return, he spent one year in commerce as a financial manager, and then returned to Deloitte Johannesburg as manager within the Assurance service line. When the Nigerian CFO position became available, he was asked to take on the role.

He had the key responsibility of ensuring international standard financial transformation and sustainability within the finance department.

‘I have been in this position since January 2014, and it has been an unbelievably eventful time both from a professional as well as personal point of view. It has been the highlight of my career, and an opportunity that I am very thankful for. To have been given this opportunity to make a difference within the firm has been very satisfying and humbling. Living in Nigeria for a few years now has greatly enriched my life and broadened my horizons.’

The most valuable characteristic that Rikus has observed in leaders he respects is humility: ‘The team is more important than the individual. We have saying in our Nigerian team that there is no “I” in the word “team”.’

Abed Tau, 28Abed_2016


While Abed Tau is a fairly recently graduated CA(SA) he always believed he was an entrepreneur first and foremost. ‘Ever since I was a kid I always believed I was likely to be an entrepreneur. My family encouraged me to become a CA, which is fine since the CA qualification gives you a fantastic soundboard of business fundamentals. Though my family couldn’t afford the long years of education and training, they knew the Big Four auditing firms were helpful in this regard, and that way I won a bursary from Deloitte.’

Abed is the co-founder of Tuta-Me – call it the Uber of tutors. In the past, tutoring was a hit and miss matter of pairing the two, but the app now permits a more selective approach. Tuta-Me validates tutors, thereby enabling students to select the one that best suits their needs and availability. The system vets tutors as to experience, qualifications and criminal records, but otherwise anyone can join. Tuta-Me was a finalist in the MTN app of the year this year, being pitted against giants like Pick n Pay, DSTv, Vodacom, Cliff Central and others. It also won the Best Breakthrough app of the year.

Tuta-Me is South Africa’s very first on-demand tutoring edutech start-up and has recently been named second-best tech start-up in South Africa by Hack Jozi, City of Johannesburg and the JCSE, thus winning R350 000. Abed has learnt a great deal about fund-raising in the last while, closing their seed capital for Tuta-Me valuing the start-up at R5 million. His big picture is creating micro-entrepreneurs through impacting education.

His business partner, Dylan Hyslop (BSc), developed the Tuta-Me app. The business stemmed from their chance meeting in a pub. With Abed having recently returned from a visit to Silicon Valley where he’d been inspired by new developments in technology such as Uber, Airbnb and the multitude of person-to-person derivatives coming on stream, they hit it off. Both Dylan and Abed believed in technology’s ability to effect change, create micro-entrepreneurs as well as huge employment opportunities by opening new markets.

Thamani Financial Services is a consultancy focused primarily on the SMME environment. It provides IT solutions, HR consulting, accounting and tax advisory, business advisory and training services. Abed co-founded Thamani with Tebogo Suhume and recently got a partner, Thuto Motsie, in the business.

The Thamani and Tuta-Me business now comprises a team of 12 full-time people.

Kamini Moodley, 34Kamini_2016


We face challenges every single day, some small, some large and some that seem insurmountable. ‘But it is these challenges that allow us to build character, doesn’t it?’ asks Kamini.

The challenge she was most grateful for having encountered is one she faced at university. She visited the dean of the faculty for some sort of career guidance, but he bluntly told her not to bother pursuing the designation because she won’t make it. She walked out believing she would have the last laugh. She did. This is why she would share this advice with other aspiring students of the world: ‘Find the people that think you are crazy for dreaming so big and ensure you cross their paths over and over again.’ She adds: ‘They will ignite a fire in you so large that you will blow your own mind.’

If she had to describe the various roles that she has pursued over her career, it would be roles that threw you into the deep end with lead boots on because this is where you unravel the magnificent layers that we’re made of. Kamini joined Stanlib Multi-Manager at a time when the organisation was going through an enormous amount of change. She managed to find structure amidst the lack of it and it is this attitude that has allowed her to be noticed by her superiors and peers and had led her to snap up the role of head of manager research just 18 months after coming on board as an analyst. The Multi-Manager team are responsible collectively for R150 billion of assets.

Kamini is also a proud co-owner of a private company called Avant-Garde Cooling that is focused on greener, more energy efficient sources of heating and cooling. Starting a company is another instance of swimming in the deep end, she says, but if it makes your heart beat a little faster, that’s the definition of living. We evolve a little bit more each time we reach beyond our perceived limitations.

CSI is another passion of Kamini’s. The power of instilling self-belief in our youth cannot be underestimated.

Kamini is an avid gym goer. ‘I love spending time with my dog on long walks. We have great conversations and she never challenges my views. I am a self-professed junior master chef and a groupie of Marco Pierre White.’

Nico van der Merwe, 35NicovdMerwe_2016


An absolute perfectionist to the point of irritation, hard-working, ambitious and driven is the way Nico describes himself. Indeed, he managed to graduate first in his class in both his undergraduate and postgraduate degrees and then passed his second board exam in the fifth position in South Africa. And even during articles he received overall ratings of ‘significantly exceeding expectations’.

Although by the end of his third year of articles Nico had had various offers on the table, his passion remained in academia: ‘I believe I have been given a talent to impart knowledge and wanted to make a difference to young lives. I joined NWU as a permanent academic staff member in 2007 in the subject group Financial Reporting.’

A year later Nico was named the best lecturer across the three campuses of NWU and in the same year, at the age of 26, was promoted to associate professor. He continued work in his role as Subject Chair and received lecturer evaluations in the region of 95% annually, being pivotal in the development and quality improvement of the subject group, as well as the standardisation and alignment of the subject across the various NWU campuses.

‘During this time I co-authored and edited a number of textbooks, produced a number of research outputs, and enrolled for my PhD in Accounting Education, which I finished in 2013. In the same year I was promoted to Programme Leader of the CA programme, where I utilised the recommendations from my PhD studies to improve and transform the programme.’

The NWU showed huge growth in pass rates, transformation and the number of candidates passing the ITC in recent years. A recent highlight for Nico has been the 100% pass rate that the 2014 CTA class of NWU achieved in the ITC 2015. He also enjoys giving back to the profession and is involved in various SAICA activities, of which the most noteworthy is his serving on the APC Examinations Committee as from 2014.

‘I will not rest until the NWU CA programme outperforms any other programme in the world!’

Says Nico: ‘My family and my religion are my biggest passions. When I don’t work, I spend time with my wife and two girls. I also enjoy running and being active whenever I have time and I love to relax with a good book. Some of my other interests are travelling, cosmology and architecture. I am also a huge dog lover.’

Garth Pretorius, 33Garth_2016


Garth did not grow up with the proverbial silver spoon in his mouth. Instead, he was raised in the struggling community of Elsies River by his single mother, who instilled in him the importance of a good education. His dream and aspiration was to rise above his circumstances and to never allow it to hold him back. He grew up knowing he wanted to succeed.

His career began with his articles in 2006, which he completed at the Auditor-General of South Africa (AGSA). While there, he worked his way to senior technical manager followed by a short stint at an accounting and advisory firm. He joined EY as a senior manager in 2014 and within 12 months was promoted to associate director. On 1 July 2016 Garth became an EY partner in the firm’s Financial Accounting and Advisory Services division.

Accounting was not his first choice after leaving school. In fact, he initially wanted to study law at Stellenbosch University. Unfortunately his mother could not afford the fees and he subsequently received a bursary to study at the University of the Western Cape. On registration day he was informed that the intake for LLB was too high and that he had been admitted to study towards a BCom Accounting degree. As fate would have it, a day that marked a huge disappointment in his life turned out to be the day that changed his life forever. Not only did it result in him qualifying as a CA(SA), but he also met his wife in that class.

Garth attributes much of his success to the great leaders who led and mentored him throughout his career and who not only moulded him professionally, but also personally.

One of the biggest challenges that he has had to overcome is that of self-doubt, largely based on his upbringing and feeling that he did not measure up to his peers. Overcoming this is something that he works on every day, always challenging himself to be the best that he can be.

On a personal level, Garth is a devout family man, who describes his perfect day as being one spent with his loved ones.

And what does he still wish to achieve?

‘I have different goals for the different aspects of my life. On a personal level, my one dream is to learn to play the piano. My plan is to do this learning with my son one day, when he is of the age to start taking lessons. On a professional level I hope to one day lead Public Sector for EY Africa.’

Stuart Allan van der Veen, 30stuart_vanderveen


‘I like to create; call that an artist if you like,’ says Stuart. ‘I’ve always wanted to make sense of the abstract.’

His passion to be part of technology changing the world for the better led him to found Paper Plane and co-found Future Faces. Paper Plane is an advisory firm specialising in exponential technology. They design and inform strategy for integrating technology into the future of their clients’ businesses using a network of leading scientists and entrepreneurs.

‘I’ve always wanted to be part of our African story, so after a secondment to London and Singapore I decided to return to South Africa and to base myself in Johannesburg. To begin that story I proposed two technology solutions to challenges I had identified at Deloitte.’ Both of Stuart’s ideas were accepted and he spent the next few months delivering those initiatives before starting his entrepreneurial journey. ‘We’ve worked really hard to deliver difficult projects and we’ve had the guts to turn down less exciting work to risk focusing on what we think is meaningful.’

Stuart attended Finovate in May of this year and brought critical insights back for the local Fintech scene. ‘Finovate and the opportunities that it provided allowed us to build relations in Silicon Valley and those have been invaluable,’ says Stuart. In Johannesburg, Paper Plane has collaborated on Exponential Fellows to solve Africa’s grand challenges. To this end, Paper Plane has invested in a venture capital vehicle with an investment mandate in Fintech and Edtech.

‘I will be returning to California with Singularity University in August and September. Our goal is to democratise the way Africa transacts and trusts.’

Future Faces was co-founded with Deloitte and SovTech to give every African access to quality financial education. In 2015, supported by Deloitte employees and successful entrepreneurs, Future Faces fully crowdfunded their first student to complete her CA(SA) undergraduate studies and supported several CA(SA) students with their living expenses.

Besides having a deep urge to explore technology’s impact on humanity, Stuart describes himself as your normal guy who enjoys time with family and friends, but who likes to dream big. ‘This generation of CAs(SA) will be responsible for defining our global relevance and the role we play within Africa.’

Pieter van Niekerk, 31PietervdN_2016


Inspired by his dad, who has always been in the audit profession and the Auditor-General of the Free State for many years, Pieter decided that pursuing a career as a CA(SA) is where his success lay.

‘I always admired my dad’s integrity and work ethic and that is probably what made me pursue the CA(SA) route.’

At age 31, Pieter is currently the MD of his own consulting firm specialising in M&A in the medical and pharma fields. They consult to smaller companies with great ambitions to grow and potentially list in the near future, and also to some larger corporate companies. The name ‘Health Sherpa’ originates from the Sherpas that live in the Himalayas and guide mountaineers up peaks like Everest. Likewise, Pieter is using his skills and expertise gained in the health industry to focus and guide companies to new heights. ‘A big part of my success is installing a group culture and core values and then corporatising companies around this feeling of unity and fairness. It’s an amazing feeling to go to sleep at night knowing that you have used your CA(SA) qualification to better the economy and change lives.’

Starting off as an article clerk at PwC Bloemfontein, Pieter ended as a manager with PwC in 2013. His time at PwC included a total of two secondments to the USA, where he had the privilege of travelling and gaining valuable exposure to the New York Stock Exchange.

Back in South Africa he moved to Ascendis Health, which back then was still a dream in development and today is a pharmaceutical business with a R7 billion market capitalisation. He played a critical role to the listing of Ascendis on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange in 2013. At 29 Pieter was promoted to Deputy CFO – he gained excellent experience in the M&A side of a business and oversaw operational and financial issues in a listed group with multiple local and offshore subsidiaries.

Besides being esteemed for his inventiveness and innovation, through his career Pieter has successfully managed teams of 100+ people in multiple locations and time zones, being a key influencer within both the existing team and the new members from the acquired companies to ensure harmonious and productive integration.

Being a keen sports fan, Pieter collects sports memorabilia and a couple of his walls are filled with autographs and sports jerseys. ‘It’s amazing what you can learn from successful sports heroes and teams and apply that in your day-to-day business.’

His next career step will obviously be ‘Ironman … definitely Ironman. Apparently the suit is still in development, but the day will come!’

Pieter van der Zwan, 33PietervdZ_2016


When growing up, Pieter enjoyed changing the way things worked – such as figuring out how the coding of computer games worked and then changing aspects of the program to make it more interesting. But when introduced to business and accounting, he realised that this was his real passion and what he wanted to pursue as a career.

Pieter achieved first place in the SAICA Qualifying Exam in 2006 and second place in the IRBA Professional Practice Exam in 2007. After completing his articles, he moved to the Department of Professional Practice at KPMG where he developed his two passions: technical knowledge/advisory skills and being able to transfer this knowledge to others. In this period he became involved in the KPMG Academy, supporting students studying towards their honours and CTA qualifications on a part-time basis.

‘This made me realise that I have a real passion for the academic environment. At the end of 2009 I applied for a position at North-West University and was appointed as a senior lecturer from the beginning of 2010.’

Soon realising that one needs to have an understanding of practice to be able to teach taxation at master’s level, Pieter started assisting small and medium-sized audit firms on technical issues they encountered. He now advises companies (both large and SME), government institutions, as well as accounting and legal firms on tax and IFRS matters. One of the highlights was being requested to be part of a team assisting the Mongolian Tax Authorities on a World Bank project. Pieter serves on various technical committees, including the SAICA National Tax Committee. In 2011 he was elected the best lecturer at the NWU Potchefstroom Campus and in 2012, at 28 years of age, he was promoted to associate professor.

Pieter aspires to be an academic who makes a difference. ‘I would like to be involved in setting up and establishing a South African tax journal that could provide a platform to produce research of use to the National Treasury and contribute to the process to develop our country’s tax legislation in this manner. My other aspiration is to be part of the development of digital products that could change the way tax practices operate.’

Pieter leads an active lifestyle and tries to either take regular runs with his two Irish setters (two of his five dogs) or play squash.

Justin van Wyk, 34justin


After receiving his first computer at the age of 7, Justin was literally building them from scratch at the age of 13 and today there isn’t much he doesn’t understand about the machines. ‘I always wanted to be an entrepreneur, specifically in the software and technology industries. Perhaps one day I’ll pursue that dream.’

In the meanwhile, since February 2016 Justin is CEO of Big Concerts, recently acquired by Live Nation Entertainment – the world’s largest live entertainment company, which is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

Interestingly, Justin’s dad (and greatest mentor), Attie van Wyk, is one of the most successful entertainment entrepreneurs in the world and has been recognised as such by his industry peers and the global CEO of Live Nation. Justin says he learns from him every day.

In the past eight years, Justin van Wyk has grown the group’s value by 300% and seen Big Concerts become the largest and only live entertainment company in Africa to feature on the Top 100 Worldwide Promoters List, with interests in touring, ticketing, concessions, hospitality, merchandise, and venue management.

‘Before I joined Big Concerts as Chief Financial Officer in April 2007 I created a sponsorship agency which later grew into a fully fledged hospitality, ticketing, sponsorship and concessions business that achieved some major milestones such as securing the rights to manage the public bars at FNB Stadium in Johannesburg, selling out three One Direction stadium concerts in 37 minutes. It offered the first ever VIP packages to concerts in South Africa ‒ which today is a very popular client engagement activity for major corporates ‒ and had major clients such as SAB, Nokia, Coca-Cola, MTN, Huawei, City of Cape Town, City of Durban, DGB and Brandhouse on its books. I then became the Managing Director of Big Concerts in 2013.’

Justin has since successfully created business models for the use of the 2010 FIFA World Cup stadiums for live entertainment and has hosted some of the biggest names in music including U2, One Direction, Justin Bieber, Bon Jovi, Rihanna, Coldplay, Neil Diamond, Lady Gaga and Bruce Springsteen.

Justin has also been successful in growing the brand into one of the Top 10 brands on Twitter in South Africa, winning the tender for the +R2 billion redevelopment of the Bellville Velodrome precinct, which will include a world-class multi-purpose arena. He also concluded an acquisition of a majority stake in the business to Live Nation.

Justin’s perfect day: ‘An early morning cycle or run, dropping my kids off at school, grabbing a cappuccino on my way to work, opening my emails to see confirmation that the biggest act in the world has accepted our offer to play stadium shows in South Africa, leaving work early to take my kids to the beach, and ending off my day with a glass of wine and a braai.’

Gerhard Visagie, 33Gerhard_2016


After failing his first attempts at both his third year BAcc and Honours BAcc, Gerhard had an experience in 2007 that altered the course of his life and career, propelling him forward.

Directly after his CA(SA) traineeship, Gerhard was employed in the fast-paced private equity industry at Acorn Private Equity, where he has been an Exco member since age 27 and appointed as one of the youngest investment directors of a private equity firm in South Africa at age 30.

Within his first year of employment, Gerhard concluded his first private equity transaction, of which the company value grew from R16 million to R420 million in 5,5 years. He has since concluded numerous private equity transactions with the largest being R190 million.

Gerhard is one of three investment executives who managed Acorn Fund 1 which generated a gross return of 46% per annum and founded Acorn Agri, an agri- and food-focused holding company, with total assets of R950 million.

At age 29, Gerhard founded an investment holding company that invests in listed equities on the African continent, with a return of 21,9% per annum.

Gerhard’s core belief is that ‘capital has a higher purpose than just wealth creation and that the highest purpose of capital is to impact the world for good’.

He has a passion for investing and Africa and a burning desire to make a positive impact and believes that his ‘life’s purpose is to use his investment skills to generate superior returns and contribute a significant portion of the gains to fund social initiatives to impact the world for the good’.

Gerhard’s goal is ‘to manage an African investment holding company that will last through the ages with an enduring purpose and legacy of impacting the world for the good. The company will have R10 billion of total assets, an investment track record in excess of 20% per annum, own the best businesses in Africa, be listed on the JSE and contribute millions of rands annually to uplift our society.’

When Gerhard was three years old he was adamant to become a police dog. Says Gerhard: ‘It seems that already from a very young age I believed that nothing is impossible.’

Gerhard is currently on holiday riding his motorcycle from Cape Town to Ethiopia and back, which is ‘a dream come true’. His greatest lesson learned is: ‘To trust in God and that nothing is impossible for Him.’