Why I changed my career to CA(SA)

I am a 45-year-old female who was born in a village called Gopane in North West. As the last born in a family of eight siblings, I grew up watching my older siblings having to provide financially to the household as soon as they started working. This made me realise how fortunate I was being the last born, as it enabled me to spread my wings as I did not have to provide for younger siblings.

I am a strong, compassionate and bubbly person. I studied at Gopane Primary School and matriculated at Motswedi High School. Career guidance was a scarce commodity when I matriculated and as a result, I found myself choosing a career that I did not know much about.

I studied a Bachelor of Diagnostic Radiography at Medunsa (now Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University). Towards the end of the first year, I realised that radiography was not a career that I would like to follow for the rest of my life because of the limited growth it offered at the time − but because I am not a quitter, I committed to completing the course. Furthermore, I executed my work with high levels of enthusiasm and passion and always demonstrated humility and gratitude towards the patients I served who kept me encouraged by the levels of gratitude expressed after medical procedures.

Making the big career change

After years of contemplating a change in career to expand my horizons, I did thorough research and decided on becoming a chartered accountant (CA(SA)). The CA(SA) career could offer me unlimited growth opportunities, various options career-wise, an opportunity to work with numbers, and an analysis of the numbers and exposure in strategy as well. Making this decision was not difficult, but the implementation was difficult, as I was already working and could not give up earning a salary at the time. I then had to evaluate whether I would be able to handle working and studying. There were few institutions of learning which could afford me the opportunity to study and work. The University of South Africa (Unisa) was the best choice for me, and I registered for BComm Accounting Science with Unisa.

I researched classes that could familiarise me with basic accounting principles since I was struggling with debits and credits, having been from a science and maths background. The classes I found were offered at Unisa’s Sunnyside Campus, and they helped me a great deal. That is where I first grasped basic accounting concepts, and I have never looked back.

I obtained my BCompt degree in 2010 and started my CTA journey in 2011, which proved to be a major challenge. I did CTA four times and it was during that four years that the urge to quit crossed my mind. I already had a family with two kids: a girl who is now 16 years and is currently in matric, as well as a boy of 12 years who is now in Grade 7. Having a family, working full-time and studying CTA part-time became a nightmare. The only thing that kept pushing me during the four years was the initial reason why I changed my career as well as the reason I wanted to become a chartered accountant. When I obtained the CTA certificate at the end of 2014, I was exhausted to a point where instead of celebrating, I was relieved. It was thanks to my husband, Fhatuwani Ramushwana (whom I fondly refer to as the “Chairman”) as well as to my kids, “the shareholders”: Lesedi (my daughter) and Rolivhuwa (my son).

I went on to do my articles at the South African Revenue Service (SARS). I was one of the oldest trainees that SARS ever had, and I turned 40 during my first year of articles. I chose SARS for articles due to my passion for tax and for contributing to the public sector. I wrote ITC in January 2015, which I failed, and I got the lowest mark among the four SARS candidates who did not pass ITC at the time. That hampered my self-confidence, and I had to dig deep to rise above the challenge and the urge to quit.

I passed ITC with my second attempt in 2015. I passed APC within the first attempt and qualified in 2018.

Why academia and not corporate?

I have a passion for training and development, hence immediately after qualifying as a CA(SA), I applied for a lecturing position. Teaching is a calling for me; it comes naturally and it fulfils me. My passion is demonstrated by how I conduct my lectures at Unisa, how I interact with the students during individual consultations. Unisa was my first choice because it has students who, like me, are studying part-time and working full-time while also having a family. I thought that with my experience, I can contribute immeasurably to their lives by sharing my personal experience as well as assisting them to get the basic principles to apply during tests and exams.

AUTHOR  |  Keba Ramushwana CA(SA) is a Lecturer at Unisa