After the gruelling discipline of qualifying as a CA(SA), Bianca Roos faced two options: to join an established firm or help to establish a firm. And she chose the more challenging option because she wanted to make a difference and be part of the firm’s legacy. Today, she is a proud partner at PKF Octagon, a role that is helping her improve the well-being of her team and helping her clients to grow in their businesses – and was elected as the people’s representative of their firm for PKF South Africa.
Bianca Roos grew up in a small mining town on the West Rand and finished high school in Westonaria with exceptional accounting marks. After some wise guidance, she found herself enrolling to pursue a career as a CA(SA) at North-West University (Vaal Campus).
‘I had no clue of the enormous journey that was in front of me!’ she laughs.
After starting her training contract at JCB Incorporated, a small medium practice based in Three Rivers, she decided to rather take up an offer from a start-up firm, instead of joining two other larger firms that were also offering opportunities. She finally completed her articles at Pietersen Strauss Incorporated (PSINC).
‘It wasn’t an easy choice as it involves a lot more risk, but the one thing that outweighed everything else is that I wanted to be part of this firm’s legacy. For every small business that we help grow, we create opportunities to enhance another person’s life and feed another family,’ says Bianca.
Today she looks back at her career with contentment and joy, as she has played a key role when Pietersen Strauss Inc later joined the PKF network and became PKF West Rand Inc.
‘I am not afraid of taking chances or getting my hands dirty. I understand the hardships that business owners go through, I have a deeper understanding of what is required when businesses grow, how important policies, procedures, controls, etc, become and how much responsibility small-business owners have to take care of their people. It taught me some serious entrepreneurial skills and how to manage limited resources. It taught me about the importance of culture and how important teamwork is,’ says Bianca.
From PKF West Rand Inc to PKF Octagon Inc, Bianca has played a major role in the merger of PKF West Rand Inc with PKF Octagon Inc in 2020.
‘This experience allowed me to grow as a professional and to understand the various factors that go into running a successful practice. No amount of literature can teach you what you learn by burning midnight oil!’ says Bianca.
Thinking back. Bianca can remember all the people who played a part in forming her as a CA(SA), and now she realises that she is part of someone else’s journey.
‘How awesome is that! Playing a role in signing off trainees is a privilege,’ says Bianca.
Tell us briefly more about yourself?
I am passionate about life and beauty. I love art. I see hope in every situation and believe that I can change the world, in my own way. In April I got married to my ‘partner-in-crazy’, Jaco Wilters. He survived lockdown with me, and that’s how I know he is the one! I play Clash of Clans and have a 20-year-old parakeet that attended our wedding.
What are some of the things that trainees and young CAs(SA) should consider when choosing a career path?
Be involved! Whatever path you choose, be involved. Make your work your pride, learn from mistakes, teach others what you know, and be a leader. I made a conscious decision not to join a Big 4 firm because I wanted to understand all aspects surrounding businesses, hands-on.
Looking back, what are some of the challenges you faced and how did you deal with them?
First, CTA! This was the most difficult year of my life (back in the day when CTA wasn’t split over two years). I never studied so hard and knew so little. But after putting in the hours and dusting myself off on many occasions, I managed to pass it!
Then came Board 1 … Everybody told me that if I passed CTA on the first attempt, then Board 1 would be a breeze. Well, it wasn’t. I only managed to pass on the fourth attempt.
The only way to deal with failure is to identify what the issue was and rectify it. My first problem was that I didn’t study enough, because I took on more work responsibilities than I should’ve and being a perfectionist, I rather focused on getting my work done perfectly than studying. The second problem was that I had no exam technique and studied theory like a machine. I took time off to complete my studies and focused on improving my exam technique, and guess what, I passed!
What is one thing you are proud of so far?
My resilience! This career builds resilience like no other.
How did you and the team manage to get through COVID-19?
The PKF Octagon partners came together to find solutions for our new work situation and the potential challenges ahead of us. We continued to service our clients remotely and also provided financial relief to smaller entities to ensure that they could get through this difficult period. We quickly figured out how to calculate and complete TERS applications and worked extended hours to support a large number of clients.
These small successes brought us closer as a team. In a lot of ways, we also improved efficiencies by utilising IT platforms better, our clients had to adapt to ensure that information is made available electronically, and I am glad to say that this continued even post-COVID, as it makes sharing information much easier. To ensure that we remained connected, we hosted various virtual events, including online Yoga and culture sessions; we played Two Truths and a Lie, we even had virtual birthday parties and dress-ups. To ensure financial stability, the partners cut various unnecessary costs to ensure that our staff will continue to be paid and that we don’t have to make any staff cuts.
Who is your greatest mentor?
My dad. I needed someone to talk to and who can guide me and to give insight and wisdom. I also recently went for business coaching with Dr Marlet Tromp, and it changed my outlook on the way I do things.
Who is your role model?
Professor Carol-Ann Benn is one of the country’s best breast cancer experts and surgeons. I love her passion, dedication, work ethic and relationship with her patients. I’ve seen her in action, and the difference she makes in people’s lives leaves me in awe.