Nompendulo Pearl More was born and raised in Volksrust in Mpumalanga. She had no commercial background from high school and no clue what a CA(SA) was or did. She can still remember the day she received a call from the Thuthuka Bursary Fund to tell her she had met the criteria to study at the University of Johannesburg towards being a chartered accountant. It was a defining moment in her life.
‘All I knew is that I had a lot of work to do. Being a CA(SA) has not only unlocked doors that I never thought it would but have also given me an opportunity to become versatile. I have worked in Facilities Management, Public Sector, FMCG and now Legal Services without having to study for any additional courses. I only decided to take the CIMA Strategic Case Exam because I wanted to strengthen my business strategy knowledge.’
She speaks openly how one of the biggest challenges in her career has been having to prove her competency to deliver as a female.
‘I recall when I got my first break, being appointed into an executive position. I was excited for the opportunity to finally prove myself, only to find that the appointment was only to fulfil the requirement to have a black female in the role, which is when I decided to leave the role and start afresh as a junior in a new organisation.’
When she received the offer for the CFO position at Pule Incorporated Attorneys, she knew that this was the big break she had been working hard for. At 30 years of age, Pearl boldly stepped into her new role in January this year.
‘It was great to learn that being a female was not a criterion for the appointment but rather a plus,’ says Pearl.
She admits that from day one, the work has been challenging, but she has fallen in love with her new role because she can already measure the success that she and her team are achieving. The insights she is gleaning working alongside a director who is an attorney are unmeasurable.
‘I was a little nervous at first, because this is a highly regulated industry and I had a lot of reading and learning to do. What attracted me to this organisation and role is the culture and environment at the firm. The directors were open to what I had to bring to the table from day one, and that was exciting for me because that meant that I had the support to introduce what I have learnt, through experience and academically as a chartered accountant.’
When Pearl attended the #Finbiz2030 Launch, like most other attendees she had little understanding of what the programme entailed and how it linked to the SDGs. But she has learnt a great deal and is already part of the #FinBiz2030 task force team that has further disrupted her comfort zone.
‘I am working with an amazing team who are pushing to ensure that we act timeously to deliver measurable goals. I have learnt that even though I was already involved in programmes that can be linked to SDGs, there is still a lot to be done to ensure action rather than a lot of planning and no movement,’ says Pearl.
The SDG goal that resonates with Pearl most is SDG 8:
Decent Work and Economic Growth. She has always wanted to work more with SMMEs, using the experience and skills she has gained to help them realise their full potential to facilitate growth in their businesses to ultimately secure a position for participation in the South African economy.
‘With my other passion being working with graduates, I am excited that this SDG gives me an opportunity to be a part of the taskforce team that will be working closely with these candidates, ensuring they are well prepared for the workplace and placed where their skills match,’ says Pearl.
She encourages everyone to start researching more about what SDGs are, especially the ones that South Africa has prioritised. However, she does believe that finance professionals are already are acting towards the implementation of the SDGs but have just not built actual targets to measure the outcomes.
‘Once you have built a strong understanding, you can choose which SDG resonates more with what you are passionate about, then start getting involved in programmes such as the YES programme. A simple way to get involved is to identify areas in your organisation in which you can start making a difference − for example, getting involved in corporate social responsibility projects, which ultimately impact the external stakeholders such as investments in small businesses.’
She has a strong faith system, which is what carries her through everything she goes through in life.
Pearl cheers on CAs(SA) in the making and say ‘keep on keeping on’. ‘Do not compare yourselves to anyone but yourself. Your journey is personal to you. Find mentors and career coaches to assist you in your journey and, trust me, their success will push you to work even harder.’ She advises CAs(SA) already in the industry to remember that ‘a candle loses nothing by igniting another’.
What is Pearl is doing to keep herself and her family positive during the COVID-19 pandemic? ‘The biggest challenge for me and my family was adjusting our home environment to allow for home-schooling and creating a work environment at home. We have created a routine for the kids to have a balance between screen time and physical activity while they are safe at home. Because my role requires me to alternate between being at the office and working from home, I ensure that I follow all the health and safety protocols to protect my team members and my family.’