• Who did I talk to? – Thabo Godfrey Mongatane CA(SA), Director Kolano Investment Solutions
  • Why did I talk to him?
    • Godfrey has an amazing passion for up and coming young professionals. His qualification journey and subsequent career choices make him a great role model for all students.
    • In my years of lecturing and mentoring students, I absolutely know that in South Africa, there are a lot of black students who are looking for role models they can relate to. It’s a very real challenge in a country that is slowly trying to move towards transformation, and for students who are studying in isolation (especially UNISA students) and need to feel more connected.
  • What did I ask him?
    • How long did it take you to qualify?
      • It took me eight years to qualify. I did a four year undergraduate degree at the University of Limpopo (which was not SAICA accredited at the time) 2005 – 2008. I completed my CTA in 2009
      • I the first Board exam in 2010 and the second one in 2012. I qualified in Jan 2013
    • Where did you study? (Full or Part time)
      • I studied full time at the Univeristy of Limpopo (BCompt)
      • University of Johannesburg – BCom Hons/CTA
    • Would you do it again?
      • I enjoyed the challenge that came with studying to become a CA(SA). Knowing that I would be part of first groups of people to qualify under SAICA’s Thuthuka Programme motivated me.
    • What do you do now, and why?
      • I started my own company earlier in the year, specialising in accounting, financial management and people development with specific focus on small to medium businesses. I noticed how many people have the ambition to start businesses but lack the financial knowledge to run their businesses. My company assists these businesses in achieving their objectives by providing the necessary services and training.
      • From an early age I have had a passion for helping others and that’s why I ventured into people development – lecturing, training and youth/graduate development. This was sparked by my upbringing, coming from a township in Limpopo, I understand the challenges that today’s youth face and I aim to assist others to overcome these as I have.
    • Did you always know you wanted to be a CA?
      • Oh no, I didn’t. All I knew is I wanted to be unique and to be wealthy
      • Someone mentioned to me that the CA profession is for the elite, is challenging and is also rewarding J
      • SAICA really sold the CA dream to me in High School. They made us understand that the country is in dire need of CAs and how these people can help uplift the country and the community. That was when I decided this was where I belonged.
    • Why did you decide to study Accounting?
      • Two reasons:
        • Accounting was my worst subject in Grade 9 and it bothered me that someone in the matric class was getting 80s in it. I felt that I was not challenging myself enough. I had to push myself out of my comfort zone
        • SAICA’s visit to our school made us realise how critical the role of CAs are in furthering the country’s democracy
      • Did your family have money for your studies?
        • My mother worked as a maid around the township. When I started university in 2004, our family was surviving on a salary of R600 per month.
        • We depended on selling vegetables on the streets to make ends meet
        • That pushed me to be the best that I can, so that I could secure bursaries.
        • My undergrad was sponsored by the Limpopo Provincial Treasury and the Auditor General of SA sponsored my CTA.
      • What types of sacrifices did it take from your family and yourself?
        • It was really difficult. We sacrificed a LOT, for the most part of our primary school my sisters and I had to walk to school barefoot because we could not afford shoes or proper school uniform.
        • As a young man, I also worked odd jobs after school to at least bring in some income to feed the family
        • We also had to sacrifice embracing the joys of being children, instead we learnt to do what it takes to get through the day
        • In varsity I used to go through the month on a R150 budget which represented 25% of our mother’s salary!
      • How supportive / understanding of your journey was your family?
        • My family has been extremely instrumental in my journey.
        • Being the first graduate in the family, everyone including extended family put their full support behind me. I am forever grateful for the blessing that is family.
      • Did you fail anything through that journey?
        • Fortunately I have never had to repeat any subject through my academic journey
        • I have, however, failed some tests here and there. I remember the first time I failed a test was third year auditing and I needed to work hard so I get 80% in the exam in order to maintain the 60% average that was required to get into Honours
        • Second fail was my first accounting test in Honours/CTA – I got 28% (the tax rate!). I was beside myself. I was so discouraged, I allowed the failure to own me and I struggled for the better half of that year.
        • I later got tired of feeling sorry for myself, went through my scripts, learnt exam technique and reconfirmed to myself that I am actually not dumb. School really has a way of making one feel like they are not intelligent enough, after my experience I have since dedicated my work to empowering others to believe in themselves
      • Did anything make you doubt your ability to complete your journey?
        • Yes, a LOT of things actually. In third and fourth year we actually did not have lecturers to take us through the work. We had to figure things out ourselves, thinking back it was very painful having to go through all those textbooks, the standards and attempt questions with zero support
        • There was also the financial situation at home, I considered quitting and studying part time but I was encouraged not to take shortcuts in life
        • Failing tests and not going through the process of understanding where I went wrong and fixing the problem was also a big stumbling block
      • What pushed you to continue?
        • Family
        • Friends
        • Knowing that there are many before me that have passed under worse circumstances made me realise I was being petty. I had no reason, nor excuse to fail.
        • I had to constantly prove to myself that I am capable that I am not a failure nor do I give up
      • Where did you do your Articles, and why?
        • I did my articles at the Auditor General of South Africa
        • I chose the AGSA because of the huge need there is in this country to professionalise the public sector and therefore help solve some of the country’s problems
        • Public service has unique opportunities that are tied to the democracy of the country. In learning public sector accounting and legislation provides an opportunity to be able to assist in promoting accountability in government through auditing and financial reporting
      • Was it a good experience?
        • It was an amazing experience. I thought I was good at accounting until I was introduced to the modified accounting framework for example combination of cash and accrual basis of accounting. My very thinking was challenged because it went beyond just the debits and credits.
        • Learning about all the different pieces of legislations that exist in public sector also made me understand the public sector. That, coupled with what I have learnt in varsity helped me further understand how everything comes together
        • I have also been exposed to thinking outside the box as I had to now learn new things and be able to apply them effectively
      • If you went back, would you do anything differently?
        • A few things would change, for example I would make more friends in university. I would make more friends outside the accounting environment thereby growing my network. When you run your own business you realise just how much you need someone in IT or marketing for example in order to be able to come up with new, innovative solutions
        • I wish we started a band and made good music
        • If I went back I would definitely tell my younger self to believe in himself more and to get his degree and CTA cum laude
      • What’s your advice for students struggling with similar journeys?
        • Ask yourself “Why am I doing this? What do I have to gain? How will it benefit society? What kind of role model am I going to be to my kids and society?”
      • Do you have any quote that stayed with you through your journey?
        • “If you were not born, what would this world have missed out on?”
      • Is this a qualification that you can achieve only if you have all the odds in your favour? (Money, full time studying, high marks in school etc)
        • I think I am one of the many people that have proven that there are no excuses

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


  1. Very inspiring story….I always thought those who are successful never felt the pain.. Through this I have come to know that every successful person has a painful story .. And every painful story has a success ending. However, am currently holding a B-Tech Degree in Internal Auditing. I always had a dream of becoming a CA(SA) but my marks did not allow me….. What advice could you provide in obtaining that designation?

  2. A very relevant and thought provoking interview, you asked relevant questions Yvonne that provided a lot of insight into “the journey” & got us to understand Godfrey and his story better. Excellent job! Keep it up….

  3. Hi Yvonne,

    Having met you and had met Godfrey personally too, this is a very good article and you guys have really covered a lot.

    Thanks for this article, highly motivated and can relate on may levels


  4. Man oh man your story never seems to get old. Its Timeless and hits deep. There is no excuse for failure. Thank you for sharing ur story Godfrey.


  5. Beautiful interview indeed “If I went back I would definitely tell my younger self to believe in himself more and to get his degree and CTA cum laude” well Godfrey ….I did CTA 1 trice, got demoted last year to Bridging and I resented myself for it but having passed my bridging this year I have committed myself that NO MORE.

    In fact as a reward just for dragging my qualification for so long (compliments of self pity) which of course didn’t pay off . I m getting my CTA cum laude#watchthisspace. I m speaking it out , instead of day dreaming about it and I m putting plans to action to get this done and I m meditating on it…you know where the mind goes the man follows . So thank you guys for the interview.

    I was sponsored by the Eastern cape provincial treasury and on my last year of articles with the AGSA(EC)….I noticed a similarity there with Godfrey and hopefully soon CA(SA) would be added next to my name as well.

    Such a great platform Yvonne. Thank you for this, it sparks hope and will to go on

  6. I find this site very insightful and helpful because I have been repeating these words ” If only I can get a chance to speak to one CA(SA) whether they’ve recently qualified or not, I would like to sit down with them and have a talk with them about their journey”
    Thank you so much Yvonne, I’m looking forward to the next article

    • Thank you 🙂
      I totally understand you! I felt exactly the same way. I kinda thought that everyone who was qualified had the same ‘formula’, and since I didn’t ‘fit the profile’, I would probably not be successful.
      It was only later on during my journey, when I was exposed to more CA’s, that I realised how MANY different profiles there were, and that there really wasn’t a formula! So I really want you to know that as well. It can save a lot of anxiety… and you can use that free energy to focus on your studies, determination and career path.
      I will pass on as many of these different journeys and perspectives as I can, along with whatever else I can that may add value to your journey!

  7. i find the article amazing and inspiring .It just gives the edge to continue on my CA (SA) journey.It has given me the need to change my attitude from just getting by but to to be excellent.I want to CUM everything.Godfrey is also a good role model for AGSA .Thanks for lighting my candle and other people candles.

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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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