Amongst some of Itani Phaduli CA(SA)’s proud achievements is being a 2021 Top 35-under-35 finalist: he describes it as one of the apex moments in his career.
Itani Phaduli completed his articles at Deloitte in 2015 and moved on to become a senior lecturer in the financial accounting department at Unisa and to start his own boutique consultancy company based in Pretoria. He says farming is in his blood and his dream is for the farming passion to grow and unfold organically. He is excited about his latest opportunity of serving his country as the deputy chairman of the board of the South African Weather Service.
As a lecturer, Itani has developed tailor-made and fit-for-purpose study material and support programmes that enable students to grasp concepts in an easy and relatable manner. He has also contributed towards the overall research body within the university.
As a founder and director at ORI Professionals, Itani is responsible for business development, strategy development and implementation, and servicing clients. Founding and directing a boutique accounting and financial advisory firm has enabled him to give young professionals an opportunity to learn and practise their craft.
What is your definition of integrity?
For me, integrity simply means one’s will, drive and determination to do the right thing even in the face of adversity and even if such an act may be perceived as unpopular.
What are some of the challenges you have faced?
As a young professional in the industry, one is faced with several challenges, although not insurmountable. One such challenge is an inability to access markets and growth opportunities, which stifles career growth and advancement.
I do believe that challenges are a key ingredient of personal growth and a necessary leap to one’s next milestone. When faced with challenges, I have often relied on innovation, re-calibration and repositioning. Establishing and maintaining healthy professional relationships is also critical whilst ensuring that you have the right mentor for the career journey you have embarked on.
Why should young people consider contributing their skills and knowledge to boards?
As the current deputy chairperson and Audit and Risk Committee chairperson of the board of the South African Weather Service, I believe that it is imperative for young professionals to take up roles of leadership on boards, especially in the public sector space. Such positions allow and enable young people to begin redefining and shaping the tomorrow they envisage at strategic and influential levels.
Having been born and bred in a small village, I believe that my educational accomplishments and knowledge base have been attained not only for personal fulfilment but for the greater good of society. It is for this reason that I believe that young people’s contributions on boards (especially in the public sector) are of utmost importance in advancing societal objectives.
How can young people position themselves for board positions?
Education is of utmost importance in ensuring that one is well-positioned for any career position. In addition to education, gaining experience and exposure is also essential to make sure that one is well equipped for possible eminent positions. Reading and staying abreast of developments also come in quite handy when preparing and positioning oneself for key strategic board positions.
Tell us about your passion for farming?
I think farming is more than just a passion for me, it’s a calling. I grew up on a farm and my parents are, and have always been, passionate about farm life. I grew up around cattle, goats, sheep, chicken, crops of all kinds, you name it. This inadvertently became embedded in my DNA.
I am currently involved in a smallholder farm venture that includes crop and pig farming. I am also preparing to expand into cattle and goat farming. In all these farming ventures, my father is a critical mentor, steward and advisor (although he carries all these tasks pro bono).
To avoid a split focus, my goal is to allow the farming passion to grow organically and unabated.
Your motivation for enrolling for your master’s and CRP programmes?
The development finance master’s programme was mainly driven by my passion for the development of Africa. Being an African, I am extremely passionate about contributing and playing my part in the development of the continent through homegrown knowledge and ideas. This is evidenced by my thesis, which focused on achieving growth and development through homegrown indigenous knowledge in the agricultural sector.
The Certified Rescue Analyst Programme was mainly driven by my entrepreneurial flair and a burning desire to contribute towards the rescue and creation of sustainable business ventures − a critical component to solving the country’s poverty, unemployment, and other various social ills.
Why is it important for professionals to continue studying?
I think continuous studying equates continuous improvement and growth. One of my biggest fears is becoming irrelevant and aloof to the ever-changing professional realities. I have recently completed my master’s in development finance with the UCT’s Graduate School of Business and am currently enrolled for a Certified Rescue Analyst Programme with the University of Pretoria.
Tell us about your Top 35-under-35 experience?
Simply put, this was indisputably one of the apex moments of my career. The Top 35-under-35 journey afforded me an opportunity to pause and take stock of some of the milestones I had achieved. It challenged me to dream bigger and live my ancestors’ wildest dreams. It presented me with an opportunity to rub shoulders with distinguished professionals in the industry and elevated my personal brand to newer and better heights. The journey reaffirmed the importance of networking, engaging and learning from peers and those that have walked a similar journey.
Why should CAs(SA) be difference makers?
The CA(SA) qualification equips one with a great deal of skills, knowledge and expertise, which enables us to be difference makers in the space we operate in. As a CA(SA), one cannot simply stand on the sidelines or assume a spectator role in society. These skills and knowledge are essential in chartering progress and creating the future that society expects and deserves.
It is for this reason that I am a firm believer that CAs(SA) should be difference makers, change agents and shapeshifters.