We are excited to introduce to you SAICA’s three new international member representatives for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, the Americas and ASPAC. Meet Mark Chasey CA(SA), Natasha Holbeck CA(SA) and Gary Sherwood CA(SA), who will playing a vital and active role in their respective regions to engage with SAICA’s members. They will be a driving force in championing and advocating for the specific needs and concerns of SAICA members while continuing to promote the incredible value of the CA(SA) brand internationally.
Mark Chasey: EMEA sub-region member representative on SAICA’s National Council.
Mark Chasey left South Africa in 1997 and moved to Jersey in the Channel Islands where he joined Ernst and Young Trust Company (Jersey) Limited. Within two years he established the Oak Trust (Guernsey) Limited, which became part of the Oak Group in 2017. Mark is an incredible leader and a great people’s person, which makes him ideally suited to the role of EMEA sub-region member representative on SAICA’s National Council. (The EMEA sub-region comprises all countries in Europe (including the UK), the Middle East and Africa, other than South Africa.)
Mark humorously admits that he was not the greatest student at school but loved sport. In his university days, he captained the Wits under-20 rugby side. Throughout school and university, he was a keen swimmer and water polo player, and obtained provincial colours for life saving.
‘I went to school to play sport and went to university to play sport and eventually decided that I needed a career, and when the medical school wouldn’t accept me I had to do accounting,’ he laughs, adding, ‘So, passing the board exam was the greatest achievement of my life!’
On a more serious note, Mark says the greatest change in his life came when he met a guy called David Waters in Jersey in the Channel Islands one night at a dinner party. David had previously worked at PwC at Cape Town and was looking for a South African chartered accountant for a position at Ernst and Young in Jersey. Mark took up the offer, left South Africa and has been living in the Channel Islands ever since.
Mark regards forming the Oak Trust as the absolute highlight of his career. Today, the Oak Group operates in six jurisdictions (Guernsey, Jersey, Isle of Man, Luxembourg, Malta and Mauritius) and employs more than 200 people. He describes the Oak Trust as ‘his life’, besides his wife and kids. He has always run the Oak organisation with a family-type ethos so that everyone has direct access to the decision-makers in the business and staff work as team players.
One of Mark’s role models is Richard Branson, whom he describes as a guy who has the best people around him. In similar fashion Mark has surrounded himself with a bunch of good people and is immensely proud of the loyal employees of his business, some of whom have work at the Oak Trust for 10 or 20 years. The first staff member employed has been with him since day one.
‘They have stuck with me through thick or thin, through the good times and bad times. They looked at me as the leader (and most of the time as a friend) and have supported me and I have looked after my people. It’s important to select the right people and work with the right people, and you will get the right results,’ says Mark, candidly adding: ‘When you have a small business because you can do everything yourself, but in a bigger scenario you realise there is far too much to do and your realise that you need the expertise of good people.’
When asked about his leadership qualities, he describes himself as a very compassionate person towards people: ‘I will listen to what everyone says. At the end of the day I will want to have my own say, but I like to hear what others have to say, too.’
Mark says that to maintain a strong brand the profession needs to practise decent ethics. He firmly believes that ethics start at home and encourages parents to take responsibility for this.
‘I think as adults we need to have responsibility towards our kids. If our kids know what’s right, they will behave properly in society. We really need to encourage our members to bring their kids up right. It’s not a one day turnaround, it’s a long term game’.
He is pleased that those who nominated him to be an EMEA sub-region member representative on the SAICA National Council were confident that he is able to fulfil this role. Mark believes that the interests of SAICA members living and working outside the borders of South Africa have not been adequately catered for by SAICA in the past and that he can make a difference in this respect. His main aim is therefore to advance the interests of SAICA members in the EMEA countries and to to ensure that the views and suggestions of the EMEA members reach the ears of the relevant members of SAICA management and are responded to quickly and appropriately, and to do whatever he can to make sure that the CA(SA) qualification maintains its prominent reputation internationally.
‘Within the first month of being elected we had a function that Investec kindly sponsored. We were pleased to have 31 CA(SA) Guernsey resident members attend. It was really nice to get their support and get to know them personally,’ says Mark. He adds that his next aim is to get sub-committees working in different regions, citing the Netherlands, the UAE and Namibia as a starting point.
Mark is married, has a daughter and son and two grandchildren aged four and two. He is a council member for a Guernsey male cancer charity which in 2017 received the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. He is a passionate South African rugby supporter and is interested in a wide range of sports. His hobbies include wildlife photography, golf, travel and gym training, and in response to a challenge, he is currently attempting to learn to play the piano.
Natasha Holbeck: SAICA’s member representative for the Americas sub-region
Twenty years at one firm does not mean that Natasha Holbeck did not have an amazing career. She says her career hits keep on coming and she loves her profession for that. Natasha started at Deloitte in her second year at university and is thriving at Deloitte’s New York office where she is a financial services audit partner. As SAICA’s member representative for the Americas sub-region, she has great dreams on how to bring value to the profession.
Her career started in South Africa, and now she is working and living in the financial capital of the world. ‘When I think back of my entire experiences of being a CPA, of being a chartered accountant and an audit partner at Deloitte, I have been very privileged to have worked on some of the largest and most complex clients when it really mattered − whether small or significant defining moments in their career or company,’ says Natasha.
Selected as one of the regional council members for SAICA is a huge honour for her and gives her a personal platform to represent the interests of fellow SAICA members, especially those that live and work in her particular region of North America.
‘Time and again when I meet with SAICA members, everyone tells the same story – they remember the blood, sweat and tears that it took to become a member and then to take that and be successful in this part of the world is phenomenal. I’m excited to now have this opportunity to give voice to our members here in North America and about continuing to tell the story how successful people can be with the designation.’
When she was first asked to be a representative, she did not take it lightly and gave it much thought. ‘The reality is I have worked tirelessly for the last 10 years or so already promoting the interests of chartered accountants living in the United States through my role on the board of Chartered Accountants Worldwide Network USA.’
CAW Network USA (formerly the Association of Chartered Accountants, ACAUS) is a leading non-profit professional and educational organisation dedicated to representing the interests of over 7 000 chartered accountants and chartered professional accountants from South Africa, England, Wales, Canada, Ireland, Scotland, Australia and New Zealand. Over the last 10 years, Natasha has held various roles within ACAUS, ranging from leading the New York chapter to secretary of the board, vice-president and, currently, home institute representative for SAICA.
As a volunteer member in all these roles, her priority has always been to support and advocate for CAs(SA). In addition to hosting events for learning opportunities and networking among CAs, she regularly meets with current and prospective CAs(SA) looking to make the US their new home, providing information, advice, connections and introducing them to the community that is CAW Network USA.
Now that she has been elected as the Americas sub-region representative on SAICA’s National Council, Natasha will be a driving force in championing and advocating for the specific needs and concerns of SAICA members while continuing to promote the incredible value of the CA(SA) brand.
‘I am glad that we have this new structure in place to formalise the connection between international members and SAICA. The last three or four years there has definitely been a lot more engagement with SAICA leadership, and this structure takes it to the next level and provides additional opportunities for connection across the world,’ says Natasha.
Professionally, Natasha offers 20 years’ experience and is the family office audit leader at Deloitte. She has served clients across multiple industries and geographies. She has experience in all aspects of the investment management industry with a particular emphasis on family offices, wealth management and advisory corporate entities, as well as a multitude of investment products such as hedge funds, private equity funds, fund-of-funds, ETFs, registered investment companies and commodity pools. She works closely with her clients, including emerging managers and emerging growth companies, as they navigate significant events such as initial public offerings, equity restructurings and leveraged buyouts.
Gary Sherwood: Elected representative of the ASPAC sub-region on SAICA’s National Council
Gary Sherwood says his CA(SA) qualification remains one of the highlights of his career and that being able to represent the international members of the ASPAC region on the National Council is an absolute honour. He is probably one of the few members who have a reasonable amount of time in both commerce and the profession, giving him a remarkable insight into the needs of both member bases.
A personal highlight for Gary Sherwood has been the pleasure of watching qualify some of the talented young kids that have come through the ranks, then making a great career for themselves and succeeding.
‘If I had to pick a highlight at a professional level, it would probably be the completion of the merger with what is now RSM South Africa. It took me from a small firm of two partners to a larger firm with 10 partners and paved the way for me to join RSM Australia, which has over 100 partners and well over 1 000 staff,’ says Gary.
Gary qualified as a CA(SA) almost 25 years ago and has extensive experience covering many aspects of the profession. Early in his career, he spent time in the banking sector, working for JP Morgan in their London office. On his return from London, he spent a couple of years in commerce in South Africa before he accepted a role as a partner in the small two-partner practice where he had originally completed his training contract. That firm merged with RSM South Africa, where he served as a partner for another five years before moving to Australia. He joined RSM Australia as a partner in 2008.
‘I spent the first part of my CA career in banking and commerce and then went back into the profession after my old boss made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. Within the profession, I have experience in a small practice of two partners and then a mid-tier practice with 10 partners with RSM in South Africa. While RSM Australia is considered a mid-tier firm in Australia, is has over 100 partners with close to 1 500 employees.’
In addition to Gary’s external audit experience, he has managed a number of large internal audit projects for several US-based multinational not-for-profit organisations.
As the elected representative of the ASPAC sub-region on SAICA’s National Council, Gary is excited to do all within in his power to advance the interests of the ASPAC SAICA members.
‘I think SAICA’s new approach to engaging international members is a good one. They have a reasonably significant offshore member base offshore and the fact that I have been selected to represent the local member base on its own makes me pretty proud. I know member communication has been an issue in the past. While there has been a significant improvement, this remains an area that needs to continue to be addressed. The needs of the offshore members are sometimes pretty different to the South African member base. If I can find a way to create more value for ASPAC regional members, then I will have achieved a great result,’ says Gary.
‘South African CAs in Australia have an incredibly good reputation, and the key to retaining this is ensuring that the quality of the candidates coming through remains high. This includes the technical competence, the work ethic and the commercial acumen of the members, as well as the ethical values,’ says Gary.
Gary has also previously qualified as a certified internal auditor and a certified fraud examiner and is currently a member of both SAICA and the CAANZ. He has also served on the SAICA New South Wales Chapter Committee for the past seven years, chairing the committee for the first five of those seven years. Gary currently chairs a number of industry and sector networking groups and also chaired RSM’s Sydney Marketing Committee for five years. During his career, he has also been a member of RSM’s National Audit Committee. Gary has been actively involved in SAICA activities in Australia and is very well networked within the South African community in Sydney.