Tshegofatso Kole

Age: 29 • Financial Analyst CA (SA) • De Beers Group Services SA

“My dream is to be a powerhouse and not just in business.”

This young leader is an over achiever and has always challenged herself to excel beyond ordinary measures. Because of her passion to see others succeed, in varsity she took up a leadership role to mentor her fellow students. Tshegofatso Kopano Kole‘s outstanding academic achievement was driven by the need to give her parents an opportunity to enjoy life without much trouble. Currently, she is part of the De beers Group Planning team responsible for analysing the life of mine plan. Read our interview with this young leader below.

1. You are a Financial Analyst at De Beers Group Services, what role do you play in your organisation?

I am part of the Group Business Planning Team and we are responsible for the review and analysis of the life of mine planning of the De Beers Group. I look after the South African entities, a few corporates and our synthetic part of the group.

2. You graduated Cum Laude for your BCom Accounting degree at the University of Johannesburg, what was your drive for academic excellence?

I am a simple girl from Rustenburg who never let circumstances deter her from achieving in life. I wasn’t born into a wealthy family but my parents made sure that we had all we needed. I wanted a life better than my upbringing and wanted to give my parents an opportunity to enjoy life without a lot of hassle. I always wanted to be the best in everything that I do. I always wanted to be an example to my peers and show young people that it is possible. I am an over achiever in all I do. I always challenge myself beyond ordinary measures. I knew that the better my academic achievements, the more opportunities I would have. The Cum Laude was a bonus.

3. In South Africa, what challenges does a young person go through in acquiring their Chartered Accountancy qualification and how did you overcome these challenges?

Our country is a young democratic country and given our current economic state, young people are being faced with hard challenges. The journey to becoming a Chartered Accountant is a 7 year journey. This road requires 100% of your commitment both psychologically and mentally. It is hard for a young person to focus on the 7 years while facing hard economic challenges. The biggest challenge is the ability to persevere. The journey requires a lot of sacrifices and discipline.

As a young person in your early 20s, you want to live life to the fullest as quickly as possible. In this journey it’s tough to do that because you are stretched emotionally, psychologically and mentally. The road is also challenging from an academic point of view. Our CTA year being our honours year is such a stretching year that you question whether this is really what you want to be doing. You question yourself almost every day. Hahahaha.

I prayed. I made sure that I had a solid support system throughout the 7 years. I kept reminding myself that it’s all in the mind and I invested time in getting my mind right.

4. What advice would you give to an aspiring Chartered Accountant trying to take the first step into this field?

My advice to those wanting to become Chartered Accountants is:
1. Understand what you are passionate about
2. Understand where you want to see yourself in the future.

The beauty about being a Chartered Accountant is that you can fill any role you set your mind to. We major in 4 areas: Auditing, Accounting, Financial Management and Taxation. Within each of those, there are many opportunities. There is no defined role for a CA and if you understand those two points above, you can easily find a role that is fulfilling.

As a financial analyst in the Group Business Planning team, I am expected to have a balance of all four areas of expertise as well as have the ability to understand how plans align to the De Beers Strategy.

5. What are the key qualities required to excel as a Financial Analyst?

My current role requires one to be analytical and technically sound. You need to have a good ability to build working relationships as the success of your role is dependent on various individuals. You also need to have the ability to understand the broader business and be able to “tell the story” as we put it. It’s not just about the numbers but about the numbers making sense in building shareholder value.

6. What is your opinion on choosing a career for monetary gains only?

When you are young, the biggest contributing factor to making a career decision is always driven by money. As mentioned earlier, our economic environment doesn’t give us young people much of a choice. However, as you go through the years and learnings, you understand the importance of fulfillment. You understand why it is important to wake up to a job you love and want to do. And not a job you need to do because the money is good.

7. What should a young person in high school and varsity start doing now to prepare themselves for a career as a Chartered Accountant?

My advice to those in High School – invest in the commitment to study. The biggest reality shock is starting university and realising no one will hold your hand or remind you to study. You must be at a point where you are self-reliant and passionate. Do as much research as you can about the many options available to do when you are CA.

My advice to those in University – Don’t give up. This road requires so much of you that it is easy to just quit. There will be extremely hard days but you must remember it’s a marathon and not a sprint. Read a lot about what’s happening in business. As a CA one is expected to adapt to change and remain relevant.

8. If you were to be mentored by any person of your choice, who would it be and why?

Phuti Mahanyele. She is a force to be reckoned with. My dream is to be a powerhouse and not just in business. Phuti not only masters the boardroom; she invests in her community and in people. I believe we must be individuals living a balanced life. We must remember our greatest purpose and not compromise who we are in that process. Phuti is that woman and more.

9. If you were to cultivate one daily habit to practice every day of your life, what would it be and why?

I would love to spend 30 min every day in my zoning out space. It is important to have a check in session with yourself once in a while. I get so caught up in the rush that I forget I exist and I must check in with my soul, heart and mind on a daily basis.