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LIFESTYLE: Synthesising responsibilities, creating harmony

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In the words of the great philosopher Plato, “Music is the movement of sound to reach the soul for the education of its virtue.” Music epitomises harmony and for many people it complements or even navigates their lives – both personally and professionally.

This tenet applies aptly to Nicolette Jacobs, who is the SAICA Southern Region president and is a SAICA board member. Nicolette is a partner in the Financial Services Division of PwC Cape Town. She is a chartered accountant [CA(SA)] and holds a master’s degree in Business Administration (MBA).

While at school, she had her sights set on a career as an accounting teacher. However, owing to the redundancies in teacher vacancies at the time, she decided on a new career path – the CA(SA) route. Her father also played a role in steering her along this path.

“My father wanted me to be a chartered accountant. Someone in our community became a CA(SA) and he was probably the only one in our community at the time. His name is Tanswell Louw. I had a chat with him and he inspired me to pursue the CA(SA) route.”

CAs(SA) are sought-after professionals on a global scale and the road has by no means been easy. “My mother was the force driving the numerous applications for bursaries at the time.”

Preceding the Thuthuka Bursary Fund (TBF) was the CAs’ Eden Trust, which was established to assist needy talented students to pursue a career as chartered accountants. A principle that is endemic to the TBF (and Eden Trust beneficiaries) is the ethos of “giving back”, and Nicolette is a beneficiary with such a mind set.

“I’ve come full circle from being a CAs’ Eden Trust bursary holder whilst studying at UCT to leading our region as president. I know the hard work that has gone into transforming our profession via this route and will continue to support the profession in this space.

“I’ve recently been appointed as the region’s president and it’s an exciting time for me. I have learnt a lot in my years with SAICA through my initiatives within the SAICA Southern Region Council as well as within the Transformation Committee. I also enjoy the privilege of being on the SAICA Board, which brings with it new perspectives and challenges.

“My vision for the region is to get our members more actively engaged in the promotion of our profession to future generations and, in so doing, transforming our profession further. Our young members (YCAN) are a vital part of the membership. Getting their active engagement in the SAICA initiatives is critical. It is important for the sustainability of the profession as well as developing the future leaders for our country. From the discussions with our younger members, it is clear that they want to play an active role and are getting involved at grassroots level with the Maths Development Camps, to mention but one of the programmes run by SAICA. The energy that younger members exude generates much excitement and shows that the profession is vibrant and energetic. Tapping into this source of energy to create further opportunities for our members is what I would love to do.

“Our members in business form a large constituency in our region and finding platforms for them to engage within the region is important. They too are faced with challenges and creating a platform that speaks to this constituency is something our local Members in Business Committee is tackling.

“Our younger members are also looking for role models among our business leaders. Creating opportunities for mentoring or networking will support and provide the guidance being sought after by our younger members. So I believe that these two constituencies will be able to generate synergies whilst working together.

“I take the reins of our region in a year when our country’s democracy is 20 years young. In the profession we’ve also reached a pivotal point in that it was the first time in the history of the Public Practice Examination that the number of black (African, Coloured and Indian) candidates who attempted the PPE represented over 50 per cent of the total. Coupled with this, we had an overall pass rate of 70 per cent among these candidates.”

These numbers are encouraging, says Nicolette. “We now have our black CAs(SA) in the market place, but we need to find opportunities for them to participate and take an active role in the profession. I would therefore like to call on all our CAs(SA) to maintain high standards or plough back into society through the many interventions that are available, as I believe we have the power to effect economic transformation in our country.”

Apart from her huge responsibilities and exceptional track record, this 30-something lady still has time for her family. She is married to William and they have two children: Thomas (6), and David, who is 20 months old.

Nicolette enjoys reading, especially women’s magazines and – a newly acquired taste – home décor. As far as movies go, Nicolette enjoys romance and action, but she really loves watching animation movies with her kids.

It is clear that Nicolette lives a full life and that the buzz words “work–life integration” ring true for her. On this point she says it’s all only possible with the great support structure she has in place, including a wonderfully supportive husband and grandparents, and an extended family that lend a hand when needed.

“In terms of music, I am a classical music lover. I enjoy our church’s CDs along with greats such as Mozart and Beethoven. In the contemporary space, jazz and most pop musicians are great to listen to, along with R&B.

“I love going out with the family and participating in the church choir and orchestra. I play the flute and conduct our congregational orchestra as well, and I find that most relaxing. We’ve got a lovely group of string players with a few woodwind instruments and of late we had a trombone join the group, so that’s great.”

Not only the region but also SAICA will see the benefits of having Nicolette advance within the ranks. Music to our ears …?

Author: Yuven Gounden