Never give up on the dream of becoming a CA(SA)

Becoming a CA(SA) was a childhood dream of mine. In high school, my favourite subjects were maths and accounting. One could say I was always comfortable with numbers. The decision to study for a degree was an easy one, and my accounting teacher always motivated me to pursue a career in accounting. Unfortunately, with a family background of a single unemployed parent, I could not apply to go to university, because we did not even have money to return the application. I ended up at Technikon Pretoria and enrolled for the National Diploma in Internal Auditing intending to try and register for an accredited BComm degree the following year. The struggle continued, as I had to get a study loan before I could obtain my first semester results.

I decided to complete the national diploma and graduated cum laude. I was fortunate to get a job at EY as an accounting technician, where we did basically the same things as the article clerks, but without a contract. It was then that I knew I was doing what I was meant to be doing. I loved interacting with different clients as we reviewed financial statements and followed audit procedures.

I enrolled for BTech after my diploma, followed by a Higher Diploma in Tax Law and a Postgraduate Diploma in International Tax Law, but I knew I still had to pursue my dream. I attempted to enrol for bridging programmes to convert to BComm and ultimately be able to do the CTA and was unsuccessful. This did not discourage me: I tried with another university and managed to complete the Advanced Diploma in Accounting Science − and I could register for CTA.

The CTA journey was not easy; I failed twice but managed to pass on my third attempt. Because I wanted to become a CA(SA) so badly, I persevered and was even more determined to pass the board exams, which I passed on my first attempt.

My main motivation to become a CA(SA) has been to be part of the change in the current economic environment − to bring about change in our country and to inspire others to follow the same route. This is even more relevant given my upbringing in the rural areas of Limpopo where we were never taught to be financially responsible and how to be entrepreneurial.

I have been fortunate to work for a Big Four firm, EY, , where my career commenced, some listed companies namely Nampak and Sappi as well as the Land Bank and Afrocentric Group where I was the Chief Audit Executive. In my current role as Head of Internal Audit at Absa, I am able to apply all the principles I learned during my training, as well as my previous experience. There were times when I thought I was too old to keep pushing myself further and was comfortable in my current role, but the words of my high school teacher were always at the back of my mind.

At times it is hard to believe that what seemed to be a tough journey is finally complete. I never anticipated how my level of thinking would be changed by the training programme when I did my articles, coupled with the knowledge I gained from my MBA. With this qualification, my goal to be a CEO/CFO of a listed company is close to reality. And when I eventually retire, I want to serve on various boards where I can continue to share my knowledge and experience.

Not only has the CA(SA) qualification given me financial freedom and independence; it has expanded my horizons and opened a number of opportunities that I could not have had before, like working for global companies. I believe I am also able to share my insights at the IIA SA Board which I currently serve as a Non-Executive Director.

AUTHOR  |  Rudzani Nemaangani CA(SA). CIA. MBA, is Head of Audit: Retail and Business Bank: Absa Group Internal Audit.