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PROFILE: She’s All Energy


After her articles at PwC Sunninghill, Pholoso Masilela grabbed the opportunity of a secondment in London within the Energy Department at EY LLP. Her role was that of assistant manager with a client portfolio of several energy companies, her primary client being BP Plc (a FTSE 100 Company)

On her return to South Africa in December 2015, Pholoso instinctively knew that she wanted to continue working within the energy sector and joined Shell South Africa.

Highlights of her career at Shell thus far include leading the award-winning finance business capability-building team and winning Shell’s Woman in Empowerment Award at the 2017 Shell Excellence Awards.

What is your current job title and name of the company you’re working for? Finance Advisor Controller – Shell Downstream South Africa (Pty) Ltd

Describe yourself in three words Devoted. Daring. Divine.

What city do you live in? And what do you love most about it? Johannesburg; its future-mindedness and the energy of its diverse inhabitants. From its history as the City of Gold to its metropolitan and high-rise buildings, I think there’s no better place for a young professional to thrive!

How has being a CA(SA) assisted you in achieving what you have so far? The CA(SA) designation has allowed me to be and surround myself with thought leaders. Passionate professionals that are more than just bean counters. It has allowed me to engage with people from various sectors and in various positions within organisations. But most of all it has taught me that when hard work and dedication are not enough, the passion I have for the work I do and the CA(SA) designation will get me through.

What drives your passion to make a difference in South Africa? People. As a company’s best assets are its employees, a country’s best assets are its citizens. South Africa can only be as great as its people. The people that lead it, grow it and change it. They are what drives me to make a difference.

What difference are you already making? As a founder of a non-profit organisation, the BPSF, which funds students aspiring to obtain professional qualifications, I believe I am making a difference by educating today’s youth and creating tomorrow’s leaders. By empowering these students to obtain professional qualifications we are not only helping address the growing youth unemployment rate but also closing the skills gap for currently and previously disadvantaged persons.

What do you believe is holding South Africa back from reaching its economic potential? I believe the biggest barrier to South Africa reaching its economic potential is the private sector’s limited contribution to the growing economy and the burden this places on the state. The lack of investment from the private sector results in obstacles such as lack of infrastructure and monopolistic domination in critical sectors like power, telecommunications and transport, which results in a high-cost economy,

How did international experience advance your career? Living in London was an amazing career experience. It not only pulled me out of my comfort zone but pushed me to be technically competent in areas I had never dreamed of working in. Being able to service LSE and NYSE clients and true multinationals allowed me the opportunity to learn at the highest level in a city known as one of the world most diverse cities, with more than 300 languages spoken and 50 non-indigenous communities. It also allowed me to manage and lead teams from diverse backgrounds and grow my people skills, which is invaluable in any career.

What words do you live by? God, love and loyalty.

What is the greatest challenge you’ve experienced and how did you overcome it? The greatest challenge I’ve experienced was the loss of my sister while completing my undergraduate degree. I did however know that she would want me to continue to preserver and work harder than I did before. I did. And I dedicated both that degree and the next to her.

Best piece of advice you ever received? ‘Do something you are passionate about, do something you love. If you are doing something you are passionate about, you are just naturally going to succeed, and a lot of other things will happen that you don’t need to worry about’ – CEO General Motors, Mary Bara

What is one change every person can make to make South Africa a better continent? Treat everybody the way they would like their grandmother to be treated. With love and respect.

What do you do to relax? Run. I started with 5 kilometres and 10 kilometres but I did my first half-marathon last year and a 32-kilometre race this year. Hopefully a few full and ultra-marathons will follow, and Comrades will go next!!