Nomathamsanqa Mfundisi has taken things to the next level and is turning her life lessons into compelling content for eager fans of her YouTube channel, Authentically Real. She discusses experiences such as getting your driver’s licence to financing your first car
The world of accounting can be hard to navigate. There may be opportunities you miss, opportunities you let slip through your fingers, and opportunities that pass you by because you weren’t even aware of them. Nomathamsanqa has experience with all of them – and she’s determined to cue young professionals in to the tips and tools they need to avoid making the same mistakes.
But Authentically Real isn’t just about talking candidly about where you are in your career, and where you could be – it’s also (and perhaps more importantly) about empowerment. As Nomathamsanqa says, ‘I’m trying to give young people the information I wish I’d had.’ That’s why she discusses experiences such as getting her driver’s licence or financing her first car, as well as industry issues such as key bodies professionals should think about joining, auditing firms where they may be able to find employment (and which they may not otherwise have considered), and exciting jobs that are on the radar.
In short, it’s all about developing and helping people – something Nomathamsanqa cares about deeply. But it’s equally about having an outlet to express her creativity. Nomathamsanqa explains that, after finishing school, she wasn’t sure if she should study journalism and accounts. Her gut told her to follow the figures – so her decision to start a blog made sure that the creative flame remained burning.
Also titled Authentically Real, the platform gave her great scope for discussing her life journey, as well as topical issues like youth and women empowerment – but she knew that she could reach a broader audience if she moved it to YouTube. She experimented with a video or two, but back in 2016, the channel had yet to achieve the clout it enjoys today, and so she put the idea on hold for a while.
And then, in 2020, lockdown struck. ‘I realised that I now had the time to devote to this project. And that, more importantly, I could use that time to make a real difference to people.’ From the outset, that was what mattered most to her, Nomathamsanqa adds: the channel has never been about numbers or followers, but the impact she can have and how she can wield her influence to help others.
The power of authenticity
What started as a lockdown pastime has grown into a voice for a generation of CAs who value the artistic and creative side of the profession, as well as its technical nuances. Nomathamsanqa believes that her audience has expanded because she has no airs and graces: she is, as the name of the channel suggests, entirely authentic. ‘I try to be as transparent as possible, even if that requires that I speak out about things other people may feel uncomfortable discussing. Sometimes, that discussion is exactly what we need, because hearing about how others have tried, failed and tried again allows us to be vulnerable. My subscribers know that I don’t have all my ducks in a row; that life is something that ‘happens’ to me, just as it happens to them.’
Knowing that this authenticity draws subscribers back time after time, and that they learn from her mistakes, is hugely inspiring to Nomathamsanqa. ‘People have messaged me to tell me that they had felt terrible about, say, failing an exam – but they felt so much more equipped to handle the experience once they’d listened to me. I love that I am able to play a role in helping my subscribers find the person they want to be, and the job they want to be in. It really warms my heart.’
What is it that enables Nomathamsanqa to be so real at a time when most of us try to conceal our flaws and place high value on perfection? Confidence, pure and simple, she answers – plus a lot of encouragement from her mother and father, and an unwavering belief in G-d. ‘Even at primary school, I used to imagine myself as a corporate Beyoncé. My mother fed this belief; she made me feel like I was “that” girl, which is probably why I trust myself to achieve anything I set out to accomplish.’ It helps that she’s not afraid of failure: while many people will do anything to avoid appearing foolish, Nomathamsanqa is quite the opposite. She has an aversion to regret and would rather go ahead and throw herself into something, even if the outcome is not quite as she had hoped, than wonder what would have happened if she’d followed her heart.
Maintaining a channel takes a lot of work. That’s not always easy, considering the stress a CA’s day usually entails. Nomathamsanqa finds it extremely helpful to plan her video schedule, as this keeps her consistent. ‘I’m rigorous about it,’ she admits. ‘I keep a book with me at all times, so that I can jot down any ideas that come to me. Then I set aside a block of time to film about four videos, which I’ll edit over the coming months.’
Of course, inspiration doesn’t come on demand. Nomathamsanqa says that when she’s feeling demotivated, she looks to her faith for inspiration. The same applies when times get tough: this is when she thinks of the Bible, specifically Psalm 121, ‘which reminds me that my help comes from G-d’, and the book of Peter, ‘which reminds me to cast all my anxieties unto G-d because He cares’.
Stay tuned …
What’s next for Nomathamsanqa and Authentically Real? There are big pans ahead for the coming year, she reveals. For a start, she would like to expand on the topics already discussed by inviting interviewees from various sectors – from medicine to architecture – to share their views. This gives her a chance to speak to more people who are trying to find their way and who may benefit from the channel’s unique dual emphasis on emotional development and practical advice – but, more than that, it will give subscribers a chance to explore the many different facets of their personality. This is key to her dream of building Authentically Real into a community, she explains: ‘I want this to be a space where we all uplift and motivate each other.’
Although she is clear on the fact that the channel is not for members of the audit profession alone, she admits that members of the industry will always find a special home on Authentically Real. She’s hoping that she might play a role in changing the culture of the industry, which many experience as work-driven to the point of toxicity. She would like to see it become more human-oriented, she says.
Eventually, she would like to record her experiences and thoughts in a book which will one day form the basis of her talks as an international motivational speaker.