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SPECIAL REPORT: DREAMS FULFILLED

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Starting out

From a very young age my dream was to become a teacher. Then, in high school I wanted to become a medical doctor. My career guidance teacher at Sand du Plessis Hoërskool in Bloemfontein, Mr Naude, suggested at the time that I should keep my options open by taking accounting as my fourth elective subject. Little did I realise the value of that piece of advice at the time!

Educational highlights

I obtained the BCompt degree at the University of the Free State, studying full-time for two years and then part-time while doing articles at the then Warner and Newton (now incorporated into Moores Roland) in Bloemfontein. I did my articles under one of the younger partners, Mr Jan Lubbe. I gained experience in doing all types of work, i.e. auditing, accounting, taxation and company secretarial. Being exposed to a wide variety of professional work and clients combined with being part of a team of professionals who really cared for each other, made doing articles a real pleasure.

Influences on job choices

After graduating I got married to Paul and we moved to East London where I completed my articles at Aiken and Carter (now KPMG). While in East London I did the HonsBCompt/CTA degree through Unisa on a part-time basis, with assistance from Charles Hattingh’s CTA preparation course.

We then moved to Kempton Park and I worked at Aiken and Carter’s Johannesburg office briefly. It was quite a challenge to get used to life and traffic in the big, big city!! My traveling time increased a lot and I felt like packing a picnic basket whenever we went somewhere! I soon realised that it would be very difficult to balance a family life that included children with a professional life at an auditing firm in Johannesburg. So, when I overheard some of my colleagues talk about teaching positions advertised by Unisa and how academic life is different from life in practice, I decided that that was the answer to a more balanced life.

I joined Unisa as a lecturer in Auditing, teaching honours students, in 1987, while at the same time I was doing Charles Hattingh’s Board preparation course. I wrote QE when I was seven months pregnant with my first child, Jaco. After passing the QE, I was promoted to senior lecturer at Unisa and had two more children, Henri and Marli, in the five ensuing years.

By then, teaching was in my blood. I enjoyed the interaction with students and to hear about their experiences while doing articles. I could relate to being a Unisa student as I was one too. I regularly lectured all over South Africa, in Windhoek and Harare. Spending time away from home was not always easy. I have a wonderful husband who looked after our children while I was out of town doing what I did best, lecturing, mostly over weekends. My children often gave me little letters when I had to leave on lecturing trips and the message was always the same: we love you and hope that the Lord will protect you and bring you home safely.

I obtained the MCompt (Auditing) degree from the University of the Free State in 1998 under Prof Dave Lubbe and was promoted to associate professor at Unisa shortly thereafter. The title of my masters’ dissertation was “Quality control in the auditing profession”. I still have a passion for quality, be it in the auditing profession or as an academic, and am currently busy doing the groundwork for my doctorate, that will also be linked to audit quality. Prof Dave Lubbe has agreed to be my promoter.

In July 2007 I joined the Department of Auditing at the University of Pretoria as a senior lecturer. I now teach the first Auditing course to second year BCom (Accounting) students. I feel very honoured to be the first in line to shape the auditing professionals of the future’s knowledge, understanding and application of this important subject that is so close to my heart.

In 2007 I was elected as the President of the Southern African Accounting Association (SAAA). This is the only association for academics in accounting and related subjects in SA and its purpose is to stimulate debate, sharing of ideas and research and the fostering of academic relationships among lecturers of the different universities and universities of technology. Many SAAA members hold the CA(SA) qualification and are directly responsible to the academic training of future CAs(SA). SAAA is a member of the International Association of Accounting Education and Research (IAAER) and as SAAA’s current president I am privileged to regularly attend meetings of the IAAER all around the world.

Over the years I have stayed involved in the activities of SAICA and IRBA, through setting and marking QE questions and being on the accreditation review panel of SAICA. I belief that all professionals have an obligation to plough back their knowledge and experience into building their profession for the future – which I do with pride in line with the life motto that I learned from my father, Louis Klopper: “If something is worth working for, do it well, because it is a privilege to be able to do it.”

So, here I am today with 21 years of teaching under the belt – my childhood dream fulfilled after all – and still loving every moment of it, as it allows me to be close to my passion – AUDITING!

Marianne Van Staden CA(SA), MCompt(Auditing), is the President of the Southern African Accounting Association, and a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Auditing at the University of Pretoria.

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