From bookkeeper to partner, how Bongiwe Mbunge climbed the corporate ladder

Bongiwe Mbunge
Bongiwe Mbunge

Bongiwe’s responsibilities at Mazars include ensuring business sustainability, and running their learning division, which offers niche content to its clients. In addition, she’s also involved in their growth strategy in the African continent.

What attracted you to the finance sector?

Professionally, I regard myself as a late bloomer. After matriculating, I enrolled for a three-year National Diploma in Accounting through the then Technikon Pretoria. Having worked for 10 months in a health non-profit organisation after graduation, I started my career at Mazars as a bookkeeper. About 18 months into the role, I knew that there had to more to my career as I felt that I was reaching my ceiling. I transferred to the audit department to start my training as an accountant while I studied towards obtaining my Bachelor of Accounting Science degree at Unisa. I spent ten years in the audit department and absolutely loved it. Further to my degree, I went on to obtain my Post-graduate Diploma in Accounting at the University of Fort Hare, which made me eligible to write my board exams and qualify as a chartered accountant.

How do you feel about making partner?

It's been more than a personal achievement. I have obtained something that influences and motivates the next generation, particularly young women. It’s a gift that keeps unwrapping and I count it a blessing.

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My husband and I started a family right before I took my board exams, which was a challenge as I had to juggle multiple roles. My husband has been a huge motivation, he believed in my career aspirations more than I did. He wouldn’t allow me to give up and I’m grateful to have such an incredible cheerleader. I have spent 14 years of my professional life at the company and have built meaningful relationships. I buy into our value system and ethos. I can’t think of a better place to apply myself.

Any survival tips on making it in a male-dominated industry?

Surviving the male dominance of the industry does not keep me up at night. I believe that I am in my element. I write my own rules of the game because I am not asking for participation. I belong here.

What keeps you grounded and how do you overcome challenges?

I have come to appreciate the power of good reflection, completely emptied of emotions, to give me perspective. I know no other way of rising out of a low than to lean into my faith and to grasp hope by using my Bible and prayer to get my mind into a good space. Once my mind finds its footing, the rest becomes easier to manage.

Most times I get great perspective from my husband and enough motivation to keep going. I must say, my children’s belief in magic is highly effective!

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