Audrey Muvezwa believes that the CA(SA) training teaches one to be flexible and offers mobility that very few qualifications offer. He vouches that one can easily adapt to different environments and positions as you have the invaluable resource of being a strategic thinker. And not only that: she is also taking it to the next level and using her technical abilities and strategic thinking to do what she is most passionate about − developing her community in incredible ways. Here’s what she’s up to …
Audrey currently serves as the financial director of a non-profit organisation, Khuthaza Foundation, where she applies her governance and compliance competencies. The foundation is passionate about uplifting communities through food and environmental sustainability. Their focus includes planting indigenous trees both fruiting and non-fruiting, and they work with a variety of stakeholders including Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment. They have planted an estimated 3 000 trees in a bid to sequester carbon from the amosphere and increase biodiversity.
Audrey is also the regional controller for Middle East and Africa at Trelleborg Wheel Systems. Her position is multifaceted as she is not only involved in being a finance person, but is also responsible for the human resources function, transformation champion and compliance officer.
In 2019 you attended the One Young World event. How did that experience change your life?
I was selected as one of the four participants worldwide of One Young World (OYW) by our headquarter company, Trelleborg AB in Sweden, to attend the London summit. I subsequently became an ambassador of the network. At that point, we had two participants from the USA, one from Europe and I was representing Africa. OYW is mainly a summit for bright young talent that is working to accelerate social impacts and I was coming from a finance background with no notable social project that I was driving. The experience is quite life changing and it empowers you to carry this diplomacy role in your daily living and be a conscious responsible citizen.
As my mindset was shifting during the summit, it was not long before I realised that we have a lot of social entrepreneurs but not enough finance specialists to complement the gap. And that is how I connected with Khuthaza Foundation.
What other projects are you involved with?
I have been advocating for and working actively in my community to encourage financial literacy. I have worked specifically with social projects like stokvels. Stokvels provide opportunities for members to save and invest and ultimately to accumulate assets by using the concept of saving but at interest free.
As part of my church community, I am heading a media project. We encourage young people in the community to stay clear of alcohol abuse and drugs while encouraging them to spend their time volunteering in media projects such as photography, production and videography that support the church. We have offered bursaries and employment to many of the youths from both privileged and unprivileged backgrounds in other companies.
I am also passionate about mentoring students and recently qualified CAs(SA) where we discuss issues related to career progression. My mentor once advised me that mentoring gives a chance to brush up on your knowledge and reflect on your learning. This exercise allows me to be on top of my game and help others in the process.
I have mentored and guided students from Senegal to winning an Ericsson Innovation Award. This is a global competition that gives university students the opportunity to turn their ideas into reality by collaborating with Ericsson Innovation Award mentors.
At the centre of my mission is the belief that every situation offers an opportunity or a lesson. Investing my time and knowledge in others has given me the opportunity to not only share the knowledge but also grow it.
What are some of the highlights from these projects?
Khuthaza Foundation partners with organisations and businesses that share our vision of climate change and making a difference to the carbon footprint. Most recently, Khuthaza Foundation, in partnership with OYW and Deloitte, held a World Environment Day caucus. The theme for the foundation was aimed at ecosystem restoration by encouraging every person to plant a tree such as the spekboom. The next biggest potential planting events later on in the year will be Arbor Day and TreeFest. The events are funded through fundraising initiatives, and all proceeds benefit community tree-planting projects in Johannesburg.
What is the role of 1 Wave Consulting in helping small businesses?
Our clientele is made up of a growing number of South Africans turning to entrepreneurship in the face of high unemployment statistics. Despite having solid business ideas, clients often lack financial management expertise or the knowledge required to manage a small business. As CAs(SA) we play a significant role in defining business success and we give people a better grasp of the well-being of their businesses. My biggest success is seeing a business grow from incubation to maturation stage and being part of their success story. The biggest challenges will always be the inherent problems experienced by small businesses (such as payment terms) and the ripple effect it has on the business’ service providers.
What is your advice to aspiring CAs(SA)?
Don’t be scared to think out of the box. The first few years are usually important in defining the path you follow. CAs(SA) are often thrown on a career path that they did not plan for. Owning your career development is critical and you need to learn career pathing, especially when working in large or multinational companies. This is where you define your long-term plan. Sometimes you have to take a series of unrelated jobs as part of the road to your end goal. You may need to move departments/organisation vertically, horizontally or cross functionally in different roles that may not necessarily be accounting related. Be open to taking short courses on the way.
Your definition of integrity?
Integrity is choosing your thoughts and actions based on values rather than personal gain. Image is what people think we are; integrity is what we really are. SAICA works hard to maintain the CA(SA) brand quality (image). It’s the decisions we make as professionals when no one is watching that collectively end up polluting the definition of the brand (integrity).
What did being a Top 35-under-35 finalist mean to you?
Being a 2021 Top 35 finalist enabled me to reflect on my past achievements and appreciate the hard work I have put in on my professional journey and my contribution in society. The process of introspection increased my self-awareness and self-love, as sometimes professionals can be their own worst critics. You can look into the mirror and be proud of yourself even though you do not become the ultimate winner. Being named one of the Top 35-under-35 finalists means you’ve got the expertise and drive necessary to make it to the top. If SAICA selects you to represent their brand, you have an exclusive privilege worldwide.
With all the projects she is involved in, Audrey takes great joy in seeing lives around her being changed for the better.