CAREER: On the money

By Drum Digital
03 October 2010

This financial director is responsible for her company’s financial strategy and makes sure it always meets its budgets

Her work demands that she think “out of the box” and 29-year-old chartered accountant Lerato Pule CA (SA) wouldn’t want it any other way.

A financial director at AfriNet Investment Holdings, a division of the Alexander Forbes Group, Lerato is responsible for the company’s financial strategy and for the group’s financial governance.

This means she makes sure it meets its budget targets and has sufficient cash flow for its day-to-day operations.

She also serves on various boards and committees within the group and is chairperson of the Alexander Forbes Group Community Trust, which is responsible for corporate social investment initiatives.

Her days are varied and include meetings, presentations, teleconferences and reviewing the financial performance of the business.

Lerato also compiles monthly financial reports, forecasts the business’ performance and makes sure annual budget plans are in place and in line with the group’s strategic goals.

She is assisted by a four-member consolidation team and various operations financial directors and financial managers report to her indirectly.

While Lerato is based in Sandton, she travels extensively as the AfriNet network covers 12 countries in sub-Saharan Africa including Kenya, Namibia, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Botswana and Zambia.

“On average I spend three days away when I travel. When I arrive I have a debriefing session with senior management and the finance teams then attend board meetings and meet with key clients,” says Lerato.

If you ask her the secret of her success, she’ll say hard work and persistence. But this high-flier is also always willing to learn something new. “I try to gather as much knowledge as possible that may help me perform well in my role,” she explains.

Best part of the job?

Having “aha!” moments every day when I learn something new; and contributing to the strategic direction and growth of the business

What I wear

Classic and contemporary outfits. One can also never go wrong with a simple black dress.

Perks

Growing as a person all the time and having access to, and tapping into the wisdom of, people who have been in the profession for far longer than I have.

Irritations

People who are dishonest and opportunistic.

How I relax

I run half-marathons and read a lot.

Making the most of my natural talent: How I became a financial director

I matriculated in 1998 at RW Fick Senior Secondary School in Bosmont, Joburg and got my B Com (Accounting) degree at the then Rand Afrikaans University (now University of Johannesburg) in 2003.

I then did an Honours degree in accounting at the University of Natal in 2004 on a long-distance learning programme supported by the SA Institute for Chartered Accountants (SAICA).

I articled for three years with Sasol, while studying for and completing my qualifying exam. I qualified as a chartered accountant in 2009 and joined AfriNet Investment Holdings, where I still work.

CHALLENGES

Meeting the never-ending weekly, monthly and quarterly deadlines takes a lot of hard work. I maintain high standards in my work.

HIGHLIGHTS

I get to work with individuals who are versatile, supportive and always open to different kinds of thinking.

PITFALLS

The travelling and long hours that are sometimes required – but what keeps me going is the supportive team within AfriNet in South Africa and Africa.

Read more about her career and how to get started in DRUM, 6 October 2011.

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