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SPECIAL REPORT: ITC RESULTS: Top 10 candidates

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Being awarded a spot in the Top 10 is a prestigious achievement. SAICA’s Top 10 consists of candidates who achieved a mark of at least 70% (limited to a maximum of ten candidates). In this sitting, six of the Top 10 candidates also achieved honours – meaning they achieved a score of 75% or higher for the examination.

ZAHIR MAYET 

Did you expect to achieve first place on the honours roll? 

I definitely did not expect to achieve first place. The exam was a bit different because the questions were asked in a way that students are not familiar with. However, I stuck to my basics that I learnt in CTA, as well as undergrad, and I just hoped to do the best that I can.

How did you prepare for your exams? 

I aimed to study and understand each topic as soon as possible because I knew that there wouldn’t be any time to study the work again before each test/exam. This was really helpful as I limited my stress levels before each test/exam. Prioritising your life is important. Always make sure to make time for both work and having fun. I just kept my head focused and aimed to do my best.

Did you ever feel like giving up? What motivated you to stick it out?

CTA was challenging, especially at the beginning of the year. I felt quite overwhelmed by the volume of the workload. However, I remained focused, kept on persevering and began to see the light.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? 

‘You create your own luck.’

‘Being mentally strong is just as important.’

What are your future aspirations? 

I’m hoping to enjoy the remainder of my academic articles at UJ and the next two years of articles at KPMG. I believe that as a CA, I will have many options available to me. I aspire to give the best that I can give. Most importantly, I believe learning continues even after one qualifies and giving back to society is my passion.

What are some of your hobbies?

I love playing and watching sport; being outdoors and just being active. Cycling, soccer, cricket and squash are sports that I participate in. Other than that, I enjoy spending time with friends and family.

CAROLINE MURRAY

What/who inspired you to become a CA(SA)?

I have pretty much always wanted to become a CA(SA) – its breadth of skills and the variety of career paths it offers excited me as it meant I would never be stuck having to do the same thing day in and day out. It offers challenge and variety, which are things I really value in a job.

How did you prepare for your exams?

I was lucky enough to attend UCT and to participate in their board course. I followed their exam guide and did all the tutorials and reading that they suggested! I had lots of good food and TLC from my family, which was an absolute blessing.

Did you ever feel like giving up? What motivated you to stick it out?

Often! I don’t think anyone who is on the path to becoming a CA can say that they haven’t felt like giving up – particularly during my GDA year! Luckily I am very disciplined and with some motivation from my friends and family I managed to keep going.

How did you celebrate?

With lots of champagne!

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

At school, my maths teacher always used to tell us ‘if you don’t know what to do, ask yourself what can I do’. I have used that advice in many different areas in my life; it is a good energiser and it pushes you forward no matter how stuck you are.

Knowing what you know now, would you have done anything differently?

Lived a little more, worked a little less and spent a lot more time with my friends during my GDA year!

What are your future aspirations?

At this stage, I would just like to get some great experience during my articles at Allan Gray and complete the APC. I would also like to do my CFA and then I will see. Hopefully I will have a qualification that is dynamic enough to enable me to be able to work in any business that I choose. After all, most people end up in jobs that didn’t even exist when they were studying!

What are some of your hobbies?

I am a keen runner and I play golf, and I do Pilates when I have time. I also love cooking and having friends round for some good food and more importantly, some delicious wine!

ARSON MALOLA

How did you prepare for your exams?

I started my ITC preparation during my honours (CTA) year. I’m an avid believer in ‘perfect practice makes perfect’ and I practised a lot. According to Malcolm Gladwell I need 10 000 hours of perfect practice to become the best at my craft, so in 2015 I made it a point to log as many hours as possible.

Did you ever feel like giving up? What motivated you to stick it out?

Being a foreign national meant I also had to worry about obtaining a work permit in order to achieve my dreams. Essentially all through my honours year I was working towards a dream that could have well easily crumbled from under my feet, hence I wanted to just quit.

My instinct drove me to want to finish what I started, my family and loved ones told me to perfect what I can control. One person deserves a specific mention: Natasha Mashego.

From having to study in a queue on the floor at the South African Home Affairs to achieving third place in ITC, I believe now more than ever that hard work never goes unnoticed.

How did you celebrate?

With family first. Sober. Then with my closest friends and colleagues over dinner and drinks. A lot of drinks.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever receive?

It came not in the form of conventional advice, but in the form of responses to anything I was worried about. My dad always says, ‘Don’t worry Jnr, it will be sorted out,’ and my mom always says ‘you have it’.

My parents constantly remind me of one very important thing: what I think will become.

Knowing what you know now, would you have done anything differently?

I would take the time to enjoy my downtime more. Ultimately, I would have spent much more time with the people I care about the most.

What are your future aspirations?

At the centre of my vision board sits a statement, a declaration: My purpose in life is to use my intelligence and compassion to not only be my best self but more importantly, to teach and help others to live a full life, be inspired, live without poverty, find love in their lives and ultimately be truly happy. I aspire to, one way or another, fulfil my declaration.

AZILE NKABINDE

What/who inspired you to become a CA(SA)?

Late in my high school studies I developed a love for accounting. Meeting CAs(SA) that had qualified and gone through the journey at a SAICA development camp also played a big role in directing me towards the accountancy profession.

How did you prepare for your exams?

From very early in the year I worked with the focus that the ultimate thing I am preparing for are the exams and ITC. So pretty much most of the intense studying happened during the year. By exam time it was mostly revision. A typical day would be a 6–8 hour study day and an evening run.

Did you ever feel like giving up? What motivated you to stick it out?

CTA is a very challenging year. You are just stretched to your limits both mentally and emotionally. Giving up crosses your mind every day, but remembering that I once prayed to be where I was pushed me to keep going.

How did you celebrate?

I celebrated with my firm, KPMG, at a results function and thereafter with my friends and family.

Knowing what you know now, would you have done anything differently?

I would have probably worked harder. But then again, things happen as they do for a reason so I wouldn’t change anything about the journey.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Dream big, then develop plans to achieve your dreams. You will never get what you want without knowing what you actually want.

JUSTINE LINDSAY

What/who inspired you to become a CA(SA)?

I was inspired to become a CA(SA) mainly by my Dad, who is an accountant himself. Since I was very young I have had exposure to the accounting world and this certainly inspired me to take this route as my career!

How did you prepare for your exams?

Throughout varsity and through into preparations for ITC I always took my studies very seriously, which included planning ahead on daily tasks and which areas to focus on. I would stick to a pre-planned timetable to ensure that all sections would be covered in the necessary time. Although this involved late nights, it was certainly worth the hard work!

How did you celebrate?

After receiving the results I enjoyed a dinner with my Dad and fiancé. It was a lovely evening to celebrate with those who have shown tremendous support during my studies.

Knowing what you know now, would you have done anything differently?

I don’t think so. Accounting is notorious for being a challenging career; however, I accepted the challenge knowing the end result will be extremely rewarding.

What are your future aspirations?

My future aspirations include qualifying as a CA(SA) by passing the 2017 APC and successfully completing my articles at Deloitte. At this stage I am still unsure what route I will follow after articles, but I think I will certainly discover this during my article years.

What are some of your hobbies?

I have a love for animals and thus enjoy being out in nature. I also enjoy a good book!

RAINER STEINHAGEN

What/who inspired you to become a CA(SA)?

I have a passion for analysing how capital flows through an economy based on human behaviour and decisions. I believe becoming a CA(SA) provides the ultimate foundation and skills to understand business and economics.

How did you prepare for your exams?

I have always focused on understanding the big picture rather than getting lost in the detail. My aim was to study the material so that I could teach and explain it to someone else. More importantly, keeping a balance in your life is essential to feeding the mind and soul.

Did you ever feel like giving up? What motivated you?

I believe I am a very resilient person and I find that challenges and disappointments motivate me more than anything else. I think it’s also important to maintain a strong support system, as others help to put everything in perspective.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Consistent effort day in and day out breeds success. Similarly, stay true to yourself and trust in your ability.

Knowing what you know now, would you have done anything differently?

Generally, I don’t have any regrets. However, I could have been more proactive earlier in my studies in investigating options as an aspiring CA(SA) and speaking to people in industry.

What are your future aspirations?

I dream of creating sustainable avenues through which capital can flow to the poor to assist them in improving their livelihoods. In the meantime, I aspire to learn as much as possible about the banking and financial system in order to challenge the status quo.

What are some of your hobbies?

I’m an avid trail runner. Ascending mountains and exploring nature feeds my soul.  I also love reading anything I can get my hands on and being an eternal student.

MOHAMED EBRAHIM

What/who inspired you to become a CA(SA)?

I have two parents who have worked hard to get to where they are in their respective fields. The example set by my parents combined with the fact that I come from a family of accomplished CAs(SA) inspired me to strive for the same.

How did you prepare for your exams?

Having completed PGDA three months prior to the exam, my preparation was different. I focused mainly on exam technique and mental preparation. In terms of content it was a matter of brushing up on concepts that I felt were important.

Did you ever feel like giving up? What motivated you?

Giving up was never really much of a concern. However as you can imagine, there were tough times throughout. The support of my family and close friends, especially the people in my household – parents, two brothers and sister – helped me stick it out during such times.

How did you celebrate?

I celebrated with my close friends who had moved to Johannesburg from Cape Town, and had a lunch function with my work colleagues. The next weekend I went to Cape Town to celebrate with my family and friends there.

Knowing what you know now, would you have done anything differently?

Probably not. I am quite content with the way things have panned out and wouldn’t wish to do anything differently.

What are your future aspirations?

Having learnt valuable lessons my short-term aspirations are to complete my articles and pass The APC exam. Long term, I am not quite sure yet, but I do know I’d like to be the best I can be.

What are some of your hobbies?

I enjoy riding motorcycles. I think this was an important hobby since it gave me a chance to remove myself from academics momentarily and allowed me to come back to my desk more focused and driven.

LEON RICHMAN

What/who inspired you to become a CA(SA)?

My mother, having obtained her MBA, always encouraged my brothers and me to study something business related, with the CA route being the obvious choice. I was also inspired to study towards becoming a CA(SA) to fund my hobbies (cars, scuba diving and yearly IFRS updates).

How did you prepare for your exams?

I studied in the library with a close group of friends. I made sure to drink at least one large cappuccino (skinny, no sugar) every day. I also tried not to study the day before exams and instead, spent it relaxing.

Did you ever feel like giving up? What motivated?

It is easy to become despondent at the foot of a mountain. What is important is to keep reminding yourself what awaits at the peak. I found that it was important to take each day as it came, while at the same time considering the bigger picture and the interdependency of the two.

Captain Jean-Luc Picard from Star Trek said: ‘Things are only impossible until they are not.’ The advice may be from a fictional character, but the message is real.

Knowing what you know now, would you have done anything differently?

I would have read the IFRS 9 disclosure a little more carefully.

What are some of your hobbies?

I enjoy reading (both IFRS and other equally engaging texts), I am an avid fan of all things automotive, and I enjoy spending time with my cats, family and friends (in that order). I also recently have picked up scuba diving.

MARYNA ROESCH

What/who inspired you to become a CA(SA)?

My father inspired me to become a CA(SA). He always told me being a CA(SA) gives you a base to live any of your dreams.

How did you prepare for your exams?

The preparations for my exam did not begin in January. The experiences in the four years at the University of Pretoria leading up to the ITC prepared me, although I did not always realise it. I took a break in December and did revision for the exam.

 Did you ever feel like giving up? What motivated you?

I did, but only because I felt unsure if I was on the right path. Our course is very theoretical and it is only in your articles where you get to see what being a CA(SA) means on a day to day basis. What made me stick it out was my family, my faith and my friends as well as something I once heard: ‘You touch it, you finish it.’

How did you celebrate?

I celebrated with my peers at the KPMG lunch and afterwards with my family who were there for all the highs and lows of four years of my studies and who were holding their breath for the results with me.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever receive?

It is not what the world holds for you, it is what you bring to it.

What are your future aspirations?

I do not know where my path will lead yet, but I know it will be somewhere where I can make a real difference – not only in business, but also in people’s lives.

HANNO LOURENS

What/who inspired you to become a CA(SA)?

Since high school, I have always been keen on going into business studies. I believe that the CA(SA) qualification encompasses a broad spectrum of skills within the business environment and that it is one of the best ways to learn about the inner workings of other businesses.

How did you prepare for your exams?

Most preparation for the exam was done while I was studying for my final exam. Luckily the exam at Stellenbosch was in the same format as the ITC, so this helped a lot. I tried to rest as much as possible during December. My studies were focused around ensuring my theoretical background was in place, after which I focused on a past papers.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

My parents urged me to have a balanced life. Although I focused on my studies, I tried to make enough time for friends, family, and of course exercising. This really helped allot especially during the stressful studying times.

What are some of your hobbies?

Growing up in Stellenbosch, the outdoor lifestyle has always been a big part of my life. Football is also a great passion.

What are your future aspirations?

I enjoy the auditing lifestyle at the moment and would like to learn as much as possible before setting a new challenge.

How did you celebrate?

My friends and I were all just thankful that we passed and enjoyed the moment. I was fortunate enough to also share the moment with my parents to whom I owe a big part of where I am.