Johannesburg, Tuesday, 17 May 2016 – Chartered Accountants [CAs(SA)] Nitesh Koosialee and Renitha Dwarika didn’t figure on marrying someone in the same profession. They shared their journeys to becoming CAs(SA), and the lessons they have learned along the way, both individually and as a family.
Nitesh Koosialee disputes the long held myth that CAs(SA) are boring. “Do you know anyone else who has driven fourteen brand new BMW’s including a M3 Coupe, before the age of thirty?” Okay, this statement is counter balanced by his decision to study on Friday and Saturday nights while his school and university mates partied. They might have called him boring, but they also knew he was driven.
A financial manager at Aspen Pharmacare, Nitesh regards his work as a contribution that helps save lives through the products which it manufactures and distributes. “In mid-2014, I decided that my career needed a directional shift having reached a ceiling at BMW SA. Within a month of exploring the job market, I received a call from a recruiter within Aspen Pharmacare. It was always a company I had admired, given their humble beginnings in Durban, innovative approach to business and successful track record.”
Nitesh sets clear goals for himself, describing himself as ambitious, which no doubt, are contributing factors to his achievements: being in the top three at high school, signing up for articles with KPMG Johannesburg at the end of matric and graduating cum laude. In his case, being financially responsible is an innate talent. “I always had a knack for saving my hard earned money in places in the house that neither my parents nor my siblings knew existed,” he says.
Unlike many young people Nitesh’s hard work resulted in him being able to save his parents the financial burden of paying for his university fees. “A keen eye for numbers allowed me to excel in mathematics and accounting, often being nominated to represent my primary and high school in various Olympiads,” he confirms.
All his hard work paid off. An excellent academic track record secured him a scholarship through the University of Natal and a bursary from KPMG. Nitesh was required to maintain a 60% grading in each subject each year – no easy task. His strategy for success was simple though demanding: “maintaining a positive attitude, being surrounded by supportive family and friends, and working hard.”
The turning point in Nitesh’s life was meeting his wife, Renitha Dwarika. It’s a day he regards as life-changing. “Being a CA(SA) herself, I always felt like a one sided accounting entry without her. I am convinced that she was the missing debit (an asset not expense) in my life. She has, and always will be, the driver behind my success,” he confides.
Destiny predetermined her path
Renitha Dwarika believes that her life was mapped out at birth. She backs up what some would call fatalism, with achievements earned though determination and hard work. She explains, “My religion teaches me that your destiny is written on the day that you are born. It is this destiny that determines who we are and what we achieve. I believe that being a CA(SA) was destined for me.”
Renitha is an associate director in PwC’s Accounting Consulting Services department. Being up- to-date on the latest developments in International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) is a given. “I am proud to say that there has never been a day in which I have not learned something new or made a positive impact (or negative when someone does not like my IFRS answer!) on someone else.”
She joined PwC in 2006 as a trainee in the Technology, Information, Communication and Entertainment department. Until then she had limited exposure to computer programmes. “As the famous quote goes ‘first impressions last’, so I worked extremely hard to upskill myself at a rapid rate to avoid being the trainee that no manager wants on their job.” Renitha relocated to Johannesburg at the age of 21. She knew no one, her driver’s license was a few days old and up to that point she had ‘been spoon fed by my stay at home mother’. She learnt fast!
Her list of achievements reflects her vibrant personality. Among others, it includes; achieving top five in high school, graduating cum laude, passing both board exams on her first attempt. Renitha is well travelled having visited 15 international destinations with her husband, her most recent trip being to Portugal in May to connect with other global IFRS consultants.
She first met Nitesh at school, when they ended up in the same Grade 10 class. “To be honest, Nitesh and his close friend were by far the most annoying boys I had met. In retrospect, his annoying mannerisms were probably just ‘made up by me’ in an effort to mask the fact that I found him attractive.” Today, they share the same profession, and a home together with their three children.
“All I know is that I cannot imagine life without him and it feels like I have known him all my life.”
Then there were five
Nitesh and Renitha are parents to three children, all under the age of three, and the last two are twins! Nitesh describes being a father as the toughest, most fulfilling job by far. “Kids after all, are the best teachers, and I love mine to bits,” he says. Renitha agrees: “Arya, Yara and Aaryan amaze us every day.”
Now for the number one question…How do two CAs(SA) reach consensus on financial decisions? Renitha has a ready answer. “Due to our financial background and me being a bit of an IFRS nerd I would describe our marriage as a joint arrangement. When a deadlock situation arises, due to the fact that we are analytically inclined, financial decisions are made after consideration of various excel spreadsheets, containing V-look ups, ‘if then’ formulae, scenario analysis, amortisation tables and financial models. ” Nothing like the facts to settle potentially dangerous arguments!
Balancing out their similar scholarly achievements and training are some good healthy and complementary differences. Cooking is definitively Renitha’s domain. Sampling it, eating it and enjoying it (whilst watching sport) is a responsibility which Nitesh jealously defends. “Too many cooks,” he says, “can spoil the broth.”
The South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA), South Africa’s pre-eminent accountancy body, is widely recognised as one of the world’s leading accounting institutes. The Institute provides a wide range of support services to more than 40 000 members who are chartered accountants [CAs(SA)], and hold positions as CEOs, MDs, board directors, business owners, chief financial officers, auditors and leaders in every sphere of commerce and industry, and who play a significant role in the nation’s highly dynamic business sector and economic development
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