Who did I talk to?
Why did I talk to him?
As we walk the path of a very tough journey, we constantly ask ourselves whether we’ll make it to our goal, whether we’ve got what it takes and how this all will impact our lives.
Students look at qualified CA’s and assume that because we’re qualified, the journey must have been easy, or we didn’t battle with stuff that you battle with, that the odds are stacked against you because of your situation, or that you simply don’t have ‘something’ that we as qualified CA’s had!
I shared my journey a while back, and got some great feedback from students who said that they related to some of my struggles, and it gave them hope about their future as well.
To this end, I thought I’d add the qualification journey of more CA’s to inspire, motivate and comfort you!
What did I ask him?
How long did it take for you to qualify? (From Matric to qualification)
It took me about 9.25 years to qualify from first year to completion of traineeship, the extra 2.25 years are reconciled as follows:
- I did a business degree after registering for B.Sc with hope of qualifying as a dentist, only after year 1 of the general business degree, I was advised to attempt a B.Com (Accounting) degree which means I lost a year;
- Failed my first attempt at B.Com (Honours) (Accounting) and repeated a year; and
- When I qualified, the Qualifying Examination (QE)(now called the Initial Test of Competence (ITC)) was attempted in March and I opted to start traineeship after completing QE which means that I completed my traineeship in March of my final year (ie. the extra 0.25 years)
Where did you study? (Full-time / Part-time)
- B.Com (Accounting) – University of the Western Cape (UWC);
- B.Com (Honours) (Accounting) – Attempt 1 UWC (Failed)
- B.Com (Honours) (Accounting) – Attempt 2 University of Kwazulu Natal – Distance Learning (Passed)
- B.Com Accounting Sciences – University of Pretoria
Would you do it again?
Without a doubt
What position do you hold now and why?
I am blessed to be surrounded by an awesome team of highly competent people who brings success to our Subject Area which is one of the biggest reasons for the Subject Area’s success and which has contributed to my rapid progression. I think another reason for my rapid progression has been the acknowledgement of the fact that I weathered some of the storms that the UWC Accounting Department has been through and the University has chosen to acknowledge this.
Did you always know you wanted to be a CA?
No I never did, nor did I know what accounting was about before studying at UWC. I had not done any accounting at secondary school – not even Grade 8 and 9. In fact, I only discovered in my second year of studies that one needs to complete a B.Com(Honours) and traineeship before you become a CA(SA). I thought that once you have a B.Com (Accounting) undergraduate degree you had mastered the world.
Why did you decide to study Accounting?
I did extremely well in my accounting module (non-CA(SA) course) in the general business degree I had attempted (90% pass) and was then advised to attempt B.Com (Accounting) because it offered access to an academic qualification as well as a professional qualification.
Did your family have money for your studies?
My Dad had taken out some study policies and offered to pay for my studies. I always felt obligated to do what I can to help myself through life and not always just take from my parents if I didn’t have to. The one advantage at UWC is that if you get an A-aggregate in matric, UWC will allow you to do your first year for free and if you have a B-aggregate in matric (like I did), UWC will discount your first year fee by 75% so you only end up paying 25% of your fee. For the remainder of most of my studies, I managed to get bursaries and scholarships. However, for one or two years where I had no funding, my parents paid my fees.
What is important to remember is that the cost of studies includes your fees but also the full cost of keeping you sustained for that period that you are engaged in studies including accommodation, food, travel costs etc. This my parents paid for as well.
What levels of sacrifice did it take from them and yourself?
My parents did whatever they could to keep me at Varsity (even though I repeated a year due to changing degrees and another year because I failed my B.Com (Honours) (Accounting)). My parents sacrificed a fancy car and trips overseas because they opted to pay for my studies instead and for that I am forever graetful. I remember one day when my Dad told me that even if he has to sell the home we live in to keep my at Varsity he will do it because he believed so much in my ability to succeed. That is something that still inspires me to try my best at everything I do today – it also means I have to try my best because I owe that to everybody that contributed to my qualifications.
How supportive / understanding of your journey was your family, friends and community?
My parents never understood the journey to become a CA(SA) and so sometimes I thought that they couldn’t relate to what I was struggling with but they always made me understand that they believed in my ability and they would ensure that when I had to study that I had my space and wouldn’t complain when my textbooks were strewn all over the place in the lounge area when their friends came to visit.
Did you fail anything through that journey?
I failed my B.Com(Honours)(Accounting) at my first attempt and many tests over my study career.
Did that make you doubt your ability to complete the journey?
I often sat and thought that maybe I am not cut out for the journey of CA(SA) and there was once in third year when I almost quit studies and I actually considered joining the traffic training college of which my Dad was the principal, to become a traffic officer.
What pushed you to continue through that?
I owed it to everyone who contributed to my studies up to that point to do my best at completing. I would rather try my best and fail than quit before I tried to pass.
Where did you do your articles? Why did you pick them?
I did my articles at Ernst & Young at the Cape Town office.
I did vacation work at a few of the audit firms in Cape Town and I felt that the culture and environment at Ernst & Young was the one I felt most comfortable with.
Was it a good experience?
It was far from a good experience (at the time) in terms of all of the challenges one faces but when I look back now, those challenges shaped me into who I am today. So when I look back at the experience now, I think that it was a good learning experience even though I hated it at the time.
If you went back, would you do anything differently?
I would bug my lecturers more with questions and maybe I wouldn’t have failed that Honours year.
Advice for students struggling through the same journey?
Persistence is key – as the late Nelson Mandela said: “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” Remember that other people have made it and completed the journey which means you can too, and remember that all of those people who completed it before also felt scared and confused during the journey.
Do you have a quote that stayed with you through your journey?
Nelson Mandela said: “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”
Is this a qualification that you can only achieve if you have all the odds in your favour? (Time, money, support, resources, high marks in school)?
Definitely not – this is a qualification that you can only achieve if you are persistent and take the knocks that it sometimes delivers. The odds being in your favour is an advantage but not a necessity to succeed.
What can you as a student take from this?
As much as we want to measure ourselves and our chances of success against other people… we can see that no-one’s journey is the same! Those differences don’t mean that you won’t be successful… your path will just be different.
One day… perhaps I’ll be interviewing you!!!