What do you do now? Why?

I am a lecturer at Tabaldi Online Education

Lecturers in my journey left a mark on me, and made me realise that this is how I want to make a difference

The lecturers who made a difference to me were the ones who believed in me and who’s stories inspired me. If I can make a difference to just one student, that would be enough.

[expand title=”A summary of your journey?“]It was a long and tedious one:

  • 2007 – 2009: Undergrad BCom Chartered Accountancy at NWU Potchefstroom campus
  • 2010: Honours in Management Accounting (accredited by CIMA) at NWU Potchefstroom
  • 2011: CTA at NWU Potchefstroom (Failed)
  • 2012: CTA Level 2 UNISA (Failed)
  • 2013: CTA Level 2 UNISA (Failed)
  • 2014: CTA Level 2 UNISA (Passed… Finally!!)
  • January 2015: ITC – Passed first attempt
  • November 2015: APC – Passed first attempt

I was abused by my biological father, he told me I had rotten brain and would never amount to anything. My mom, my brother and I were left to fend for ourselves. My mom never even had a bank account, but we never gave up. We have fought through life together. There were days that I wasn’t sure how we would afford our next meal, but I kept fighting. This taught me to never allow circumstances to be an excuse[/expand]
[expand title=”Where did you do articles? Why did you choose them? What did you get out of it?“]I started my articles at the BDO Pretoria Office in 2012 (While I was doing CTA for the second time)

  • I did two years of my articles with them because I was advised that I would have great learning opportunities with diverse clients
  • I approached it with the idea that I want to learn as much as I could possibly learn. The learning opportunities were absolutely great, but there were blood, sweat and tears too

I completed my articles at the AGSA Polokwane Business Unit

  • I decided to move back to my mom when I failed CTA in 2012, since I only had one more attempt at CTA
    • This decision caused a lot of tears, since I had to leave Pretoria and move to Polokwane, and I got my results 2 days before my mom’s 50th birthday… that was a major downer
    • I resigned (without having a job to go to) and I needed a job in order to continue studying. Luckily, I had made wonderful friends at BDO and a couple of them had contacts at the AGSA Polokwane Office
    • When I went for the interview, I was told that they didn’t have place for me… I begged and pleaded (I was not above kissing anyone’s feet at this stage!) and they let me write the competency assessment. They offered me a contract that same afternoon!
  • I never knew the benefits the AGSA gave their trainees (another blessing I discovered when I started with them)
    • Public sector was an amazing challenge, giving me insight into the different Departments and Municipalities in our country and allowed me to appreciate the difference the AGSA really does make in SA
    • The AGSA has an extraordinary study support programme for CTA students
      • The Top 10 CTA students + the Top student in each Business Unit (you only qualified if you scored 40% or more) were taken away for Mini Boot camps (a week of intense lecturing) for Test 1–4
        • I qualified for the Mini Boot camps for Test 2-4, as well as the ultimate Boot Camp before the finals (8 weeks of lectures, questions and exam technique)[/expand]
          [expand title=”What did you struggle with the most?“]My unsuccessful CTA attempts – I struggled to balance work, my health and studies; also Auditing; and sticking to my times

          • I had an emergency surgery in one year that made me miss class for a month, and I was never able to catch up
          • The worse I did, the more despondent and depressed I became
            • I wasn’t used to failing, this has never happened to me before and all of a sudden, I ended up being the “dumb” student
          • I focused so much time on theory that by the time I had to write a test I had barely done questions
            • I thought that since I failed the prior year, I HAD TO study theory since I clearly know NOTHING, but this only caused more heartache and tears as I remained the “dumb” student, and the little confidence I had left plummeted hard and fast!
            • When study leave came, I was so depressed at the thought of doing questions just to fail them, so I kept doing questions for the subjects I knew I was good at.
            • I did questions in the other subjects too but as soon as I started doubting myself (which was all the time), I went straight to the solution! I managed to convince myself that I would’ve answered the same as the memo
            • When I did questions, the perfectionist in me struggled big time, every question had to be attempted perfectly. If I scribbled, I would tear out the pages and start again… so I never paid attention to the time constraints. Not practicing time management killed me
          • I lost friends along the way, missed really important occasions, felt like I was letting my family down all the time. They didn’t understand why I kept doing this to myself.

          My successful CTA attempt

          • By now I was sure the levels of my stupidity went unmatched
          • Friends – I had exactly 3 left that would still message me, only barely because they knew I was never available. I missed more and more weddings. And my family wasn’t too fond of me at times either
          • My health suffered a lot, I was severely overweight and seriously depressed
          • I decided even if I needed to recite each question like a parrot that I would. This was my last shot at doing CTA, and by the grace of God I remained determined
          • I also now knew I could apply for additional time during test and exams and successfully did so. (I had developed Carpal Tunnel Syndrome the year before)
          • I studied every moment I could, and kept a routine of fitting in studies throughout every day
          • I hid the solutions for questions I attempted hidden away in my mom’s room! (I HAD to break the habit of constantly looking at the memo!)
            • Everything I got wrong I made summaries of
            • I made concept summaries and layout summaries – I would wake up while sleeping and add to those summaries when needed.
            • I took plastic and stuck it against walls/windows anywhere with things I struggled to remember
          • My motivation? Qualifying for the AG’s Boot Camp… being the best… finally showing everyone I was not the stupid person I thought I was[/expand]
            [expand title=”You repeated CTA…What went through your mind when you found out that you didn’t make it?“]

            • “What a dumb ass!! I must be the stupidest person alive!”
            • “I have disappointed my family! I can’t face the world and its judgement! How can my mom still love a daughter who is this stupid and incurring study debt at a rate beyond comprehension?!”
            • “I am sacrificing my life without results. Why do keep paying for something that makes me feel this stupid!!”
            • “Where will I find the money to repeat the year?”
            • “How will I ever make a success of my life if I can’t even manage to get CTA right?!”

            What do you have to say to others who are in the same position as you? (ie: have to repeat CTA)

            • I know you think your intelligence is below any living organisms level
            • I know the tears you quietly shed at night when no one can hear you
            • I know the financial burden you worry about and face every day
            • I know the feeling of losing friends and letting down your family
            • Trust in the Lord and keep going. Without you knowing, He is carrying you through this
            • Find someone that will mentor you, someone that will believe in you (because I know you probably don’t believe in yourself!)
            • Write down the motivations for going through the torture of CTA and every time you consider sleeping/going out over studying, look at that and decide if your decision will bring you closer to your goal
              • They feel the same way you do; you will only commiserate, not inspire
              • They do not have the experience to help you succeed
              • Trust someone that has already overcome the CTA hurdle
            • Questions, questions and guess what? More questions! (without the memo, under exam conditions!!)
            • ABOVE ALL ELSE: Tell yourself each day that you can do it. Write “I CAN” on a water bottle for tests and exams. Every time you feel you want to hyperventilate… look at that bottle, take a deep breath and realise that you CAN DO IT. You would not have been able to get to CTA if you weren’t intelligent! BELIEVE IN YOURSELF!![/expand]
              [expand title=”Was the journey worthwhile?“]Abso-freakin-lutely![/expand]
              [expand title=”As a woman, did you find that your journey was different, harder, than the guys around you? Any challenges you had to face that the men didn’t? Do you feel it has or will impact your post-qualification journey? “]Yes

              • Some clients don’t respond to a woman well, and would go to my superiors instead, because they didn’t trust the work of a woman
              • Certain audit teams were “men-only” and a woman wouldn’t be allowed to go on that audit
              • Sexual harassment and comments from men at clients does happen
              • In one interview, a guy actually told me: “I hope you are one of those woman planning on getting married and having children. Since we only promote men to management, you will have to be happy with whatever we give you.”
              • Some men find a woman who is a qualified CA intimidating
              • I think women should be empowered and any form of discrimination and sexual harassment should never be allowed or entertained
              • As my post qualification journey continues, I hope to help empower young girls all the way to grown woman to reach for their dreams.[/expand]
                [expand title=”Do you feel that doing CTA at UNISA makes you a second-rate CA? Or that other people see you that way?“]

                • Not at all. I actually think people respect you more, (even fellow CA’s), because they know the difficulty of CTA, so getting through it as a distance-learning student is even more impressive![/expand]
                  In the words of Dory from Finding Nemo: “Just keep swimming!”

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


  1. Joane` your journey is so inspiring, our journey`s are almost identical, I passed my CTA on my 4th and final attempt and now I am struggling with ITC (3rd attempt). Thanks for sharing your journey, I was starting to loose hope and faith in myself

  2. Joane i am so inspired by your journey, it is people like you that motivate me to chase my dream even more…. Thank you so so much sweetheart…..

  3. I am now more confident that I will pass by attempting to put pen to paper and answering exam questions without looking at the memo. I failed previously because I only relied on memos . This time I will be the change I want to see succeed

  4. I met Joanè at BDO and she is a strong independent woman and will definitly amount to great things in her life. Blessings to you my dear friend

  5. You have an amazing story. I am inspired even more to not fail my CTA. Also, your humble family background dismissed some of my notions on white wealth privilege and made the story more inspiring for me. I wish you all the best in all you do.

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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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