A conversation between the CEO of Club Readership, Morongwa Maifo, and Ondela Zweni, a South African CA who are both currently based in Amsterdam at the Netherlands.
Ondela’s opening remarks.
To the CEO of Club Readership, Morongwa Maifo, and her team: thank you so much for this opportunity. Recently I had a conversation with a friend who asked why I studied Accountancy and I responded, ‘To inspire people from my township, to demonstrate it is possible to become a CA. In high school, no one believed someone from Hector Petersen High School could qualify as a CA. I stood out against the odds.’
About Ondy Zweni
Ondela Zweni (26) comes from Zwelitsha zone -1, King William’s Town, Eastern Cape, she has 2 siblings, attended high school at Hector Petersen High School and later went to Rhodes University. She has qualifications in Baccalaureus in Accounting, Post – Graduate Diploma in Accounting (CTA) and she possess the following accolades – Golden Key, Deloitte Top 15%. Completed Articles with Deloitte. Ondy qualified as a Chartered Accountant – South African Institute of Charted Accountants (2018), all board exams passed with the first attempt. Currently based at Deloitte Amsterdam in the Audit Advisory division.
Tell us about your journey of becoming a qualified CA(SA)? What inspired this particular career choice?
My aspirations to become a CA(SA) spans from pretty much when I was a young girl. I saw how this career choice transformed the lives of so many young talented professionals from impoverished backgrounds. Growing up in a small township, I wanted to be a beacon of hope for the kids in my community and this is where my drive and passion for the profession comes from.
Ondy Zweni, we acknowledge that such career choice required vast amounts of effort, could you tell the audience about the main difficulties you have encountered? And indicate the lessons you acquired from the challenges of your journey?
Apart from the fact that it’s a tough course that requires a surmountable level of dedication, commitment, and hard work, I would say finding sponsorship to fund my studies was one of the main difficulties I encountered. I learned that if you truly want something, just go for it. It is very discouraging to be committed to a course that is so expensive and requires so much funding for constantly changing study material. What I learned from this is the fact, no matter how difficult a situation gets, especially in those moments where all hope seems lost, keep trusting in the Lord. He is a way maker and provider.
Please outline the road map to qualifying as a CA(SA), i.e. Board exams and articles completion required.
This involves but not limited to, enrolling for a Bachelors Degree of Commerce (BCom) in Accounting which is a 3-year degree. Once you complete your undergraduate, you need to enroll for a one-year Postgraduate Diploma in Accounting (CTA). Upon successful completion of your CTA, you take the Initial Test of Competence (ITC or first board exam) in your first year of articles/training contract. The training contract/articles is a three-year program normally undergone at an audit firm or large corporation designed for a CA candidate to gain all competencies required for one to become a qualified CA. Upon successful completion of the ITC, candidates take the second board exam (APC) towards the end of the second year in the training program. Once you pass the APC exam, the audit firm/corporation where you undertake your training program certifies you as a competent trainee towards the end of the third year and you are officially qualified as a CA (SA).
What role do Chartered Accountants play in our society?
Well, CA’s play a broad role in society. This spans from Audit Partners who sign off on the audit opinions of financial statements that can be crucial for investors, in turn, the successful operation of the economy. CAs also serve as CFOs, members of Audit Committee/Boards that are crucial for the governance of business and it bottles down to Accountants and Financial Analysts that run banks etc. The role played by CA’s in society is very broad one of paramount importance. Even more so, considering the current financial state of SA.
Speak to a high school learner who aspires to pursue the same career, what is required of them in preparation to their journey?
I would say, remain disciplined, strong and dedicated to your career aspirations. The journey can get tough at times and can really takes a lot from you. Look up and stay committed to the end goal. It requires a lot of perseverance.
Congratulations in accelerating your career and expanding overseas, you are currently serving in the Audit Advisory division, Deloitte in Amsterdam, share your journey of moving from South Africa to the Netherlands, Amsterdam.
I moved to The Netherlands in January 2018 upon completion of my articles at Deloitte in Cape Town. I decided to move to Europe to gain broader experience, exposure and discover and experience different cultures and traditions. I always had childhood fantasies to travel to Europe. SO, I get the chance to live my childhood dreams.
And what impact does this particular move (South Africa to Amsterdam) brought into your career and personal life?
I have grown so much in the past few months. Working in an environment that is so different from your comfort zone pushes one to go above and beyond the limits. Personally, I have been exposed to so many beautiful cultures and traditions. I have met new people that have truly impacted my life in a positive manner.
We would like to quote you and remember you Ondy, any inspiring words you would like to share with the readers?
I would like to leave the readers with my favorite bible verse “But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. “– Isaiah 40:31
Your future truly is in your hands. It doesn’t matter where you come from, study hard and open up doors for yourself.