Why did I chat to Cindy?

Cindy Mati is the Senior People and Culture Manager at BDO. (Most people refer to this department as HR!)

I chatted to Cindy on behalf of all those students who need to put CV’s together, attend interviews and are planning to start articles and want more information on what exactly firms are looking for from them.

Please leave a comment at the bottom of this post to thank Cindy for her time!

Take a look at the Table of Contents above to see what we chatted about. You can go straight to the topics you’re interested in

Cindy's experience

Cindy works in Human Resources at BDO, and worked at KPMG, so she has a nice experience of bigger and smaller firms. 

She’s dealt with many CV’s, interviews, clerks who are studying and articles, so she can give us a lot of valuable insight.

Should you start articles while you're studying?

If you’ve watched other interviews I’ve done, you’ll spot that this is a question I keep asking on your behalf! (You can see my chat with Vincent Motholo CA(SA) here).

We discuss the impact on the firm and the clerk as well.

CV's - What do you look for?

A few topics we covered here:

  • What do you put on your CV other than academic information?
  • What skills are important for your articles?

People skills

When you’re studying, it’s easy to think that you’re going to be working behind a desk on your own on technical stuff. The reality is that your people skills are CRUCIAL!

We also need to be aware of how to have ‘tough conversations’? This is not something you’re taught at varsity, but wow… it can be life-changing! Be aware of whether the firm you apply at offers training around this type of thing.

No matter what you end up specialising in, keep in mind that you will always be dealing with PEOPLE. Clients, managers, bosses, colleagues, staff… these are PEOPLE!

What do full-time students put on their CV?

It’s tough to put a CV together if you’ve never worked before. That CV can look pretty empty! 

What can you include on there? What are firms looking for?

CV's - Advice to make a good impression

We chatted about CV’s for quite a while. There’s quite a lot of valuable advice in here regarding the stuff you should include, what the recruiter is looking for on that CV, and even the format of your CV.

Cindy refers to Canva here (It’s a free graphic design tool with a lot of cool templates.) I use it ALL the time as well!

Cindy’s given you some really great insight into how she perceives information and how she interprets this.

Interviews - What's the toughest question?

I asked Cindy what questions she finds interviewees struggle with the most. 

Interviews - How to prepare for your interview

Interviews are REALLY stressful. The more you can think about how to deal with questions and prepare your thought processes in advance. 

Cindy refers to the ‘STAR’ technique in the video, you can find more info on that here

And SLOW down!

Some really great techniques and small things to help you come across professionally and calm down.

Interviews - What NOT to do!

Interviews starts WAY before you sit down with the interviewer. 


Do you check up on candidates online?

Will recruiters check your social media profile?!

Will doing your articles at a non-Big 4 firm affect your career?

So many students are concerned that not serving articles at a Big 4 firm will affect their career. Many people worry that if they don’t qualify at a Big 4 firm, they’ll be second-rate CA(SA)’s. 

Since Cindy’s worked at both, she can give us some insight on this.

The importance of networking

Networking starts a LOT earlier than many students realise!

I wrote an article on this awhile ago, some advice on how to build a network. 

How do generational differences affect your articles?

Generational differences are a REAL thing! This is another thing that’s not taught to us in varsity. 

Cindy discusses some of these differences and how they may affect you. This is a really good thing to be aware of! It can cause a lot of frustration when you don’t understand why people respond the way they do.

Dealing with tough situations

Regardless of your qualifications when you join a company, you have yet to actually add any value to the company. You do kinda need to prove yourself. 

We discussed tough conversations a little earlier, but talk about this a little more.

Articles are incredibly stressful, there are GOING to be things that don’t work out the way you want, there’s going to be stuff that you feel is unfair. You really need to THINK about how to deal with these things professionally.

Your emotional intelligence is FAR more important than you may think. When you’re studying, this stuff doesn’t necessarily occur to you, but it can create a HUGE issue for you at work. 

Read up on dealing with ‘tough conversations’, Consider how to deal with stress, how to complain ‘professionally’, and deal with criticism. This stuff is NOT easy! 

You need to find a balance between squashing stresses down and exploding when things go wrong. I struggled with this a lot… so this is from personal experience… so you are not alone!

If you can relate, or have a query...

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Yvonne Starkey CA(SA)

Yvonne Starkey CA(SA)

I coach accounting students who are struggling with their study habits and mindset, and want their studies to be as effective as they used to be. See more on my about page

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