‘Accounting is amazing’

2012-12-06 00:00

WHEN Nontobeko Ngubo (26) dreamt of becoming a chartered accountant, she imagined a career working with numbers and journals.

However, she got a whole lot more than she bargained for after she completed her articles with KPMG in Durban and began working as a reporting analyst at BHP Billiton in Richards Bay.

Ngubo, who had a humble upbringing at Westgate in Pietermaritzburg, is the product of the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants’ (Saica) Thuthuka Bursary Programme.

Far from bookkeeping and accounting, a career in this potentially lucrative field opens up a new world, with the possibility of growing into a business leader.

Ngubo told The Witness that she was raised in a single-parent household by her mother, in modest circumstances.

While there were no role models that she could look up to with regard to career guidance and advice, Ngubo dreamt of studying accounting and commerce at a university.

She initially attended Haythorne High School and later, Pietermaritzburg Girls’ High, where she matriculated.

With no money for further tertiary education, Ngubo applied for various bursaries before hearing about the Thuthuka Bursary Programme from a family friend.

“I always had a great desire to be financially literate, which I felt was something that we lack in our black community as well as the rest of the country.

“I had these huge ambitions, but lacked direction and access to information.

“I was placed in one of the leading universities in the country. Thuthuka provided access to funds to pay for my education and the mentorship that I needed.”

She was offered a place at the University of Cape Town, thanks to the programme.

The Thuthuka programme exposed her to a number of successful people who had similar backgrounds.

She said the support she received from the programme helped ease the transition of leaving home at a young age.

“It was tough … but it was a good experience. When you are passionate about something, you make it work. The support and mentorship made all the difference. I was placed in a group of extremely intelligent and ambitious students, who came from similar backgrounds to mine. This provided one of the greatest support structures for me in the Thuthuka programme. Being among these students promoted very healthy competition between us, and we motivated and assisted each other at all times.”

She said the perception of accounting in high school is one that is dominated by bookkeeping.

However, the field offers a range of skills and opportunities in the business world.

“I had no idea how diverse the degree was and how much I could do with it.

“The opportunities are so amazing. It requires you to analyse the numbers and understand them. But it’s not just about having the financial skills. You also have to have the reporting skills.

“It gives you a better insight into the business, allowing you to understand the company through the numbers … and talk about the future prospects of the company.

“It’s a significant skill to have.”

Given that she is still in the early stages of her career, Ngubo is focusing on growing her skills base before mapping out a long-term plan.

“At this stage, the most critical thing for me is to gain as much experience as possible.

“I want to learn as much as possible about this field … and more about the business world.”

 

ONE of Saica’s prime goals is to strengthen the country’s economy, by playing a significant and leading role in transformation and skills development. The Thuthuka Education Upliftment Project, an initiative to promote transformation in the profession, was launched in 2002 and is growing into a national project.

“Thuthuka’s objective is to transform the demographics of the profession to reflect those of the country in terms of race and gender, and provide educational support to African learners and students for the benefit of the profession, while simultaneously helping to uplift communities. Saica prides itself in leading the chartered accountancy profession as a socially responsible driver of business and skills development by supporting and encouraging enterprise development initiatives,” Saica stated.

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