In 2018 we profiled Accounting and Finance as disciplines of interest and we looked at the various jobs that are available within those sectors. Now we are looking at one of very own graduates who is currently following a career path in the accounting. She shares her journey with us as she continues to reach for her career aspirations.
- Name: Nokubonga Hadebe
- Age: 24
- Tertiary Institution: University of the Witwatersrand
- Course of study: Bachelor of Commerce: Accounting and Post Graduate Diploma: Accounting Science
- Current Occupation: Trainee Accountant at Ernst & Young Services (Pty) Ltd in Sandton
Tell us a bit about your background.
I was born in Estcourt, KwaZulu-Natal but when I was a year old my family (i.e. mother and granny) relocated to Durban in a small village called Tshelimnyama. My father wasn’t present in my life and since my mom was a teenager when I was born my grandmother supported us. My upbringing was disadvantaged in that my gran worked at a self-help centre and she was paid in food parcels which is how we used to get by. At some stage I used to entertain (i.e. sing, dance and act) people in town for donations so we could get money for necessities.
I attended Mariannhill Lower Primary School, then Jubilee Senior Primary School in Mariannhill (Mariannhill is a catholic missionary hence all schools, hospitals and supermarkets situated nearby must observe catholic teachings). My teachers at Jubilee identified me as a smart girl with great potential and negotiated for me to be enrolled to the highly regarded high school in the area called St Francis College and a certain sister from the convent awarded me a scholarship for it.
How did you go about choosing what you were going to study at university?
My teachers really believed in me and that motivated me to work hard. They even went as far as to suggest different courses I could apply for and various institutions I could study at. My grade 9 accounting teacher was amazing, and he made me fall “in love” with the subject and school wasn’t the same after that. I was curious about how I could be just like him and he advised that I need to get the CA (SA) designation as that is the highest title in the accounting profession. I set my mind and heart to it, promising myself that I would do everything in my power to become a CA one day.
When did Career Wise come in the picture?
My accounting teacher told me that my grade 11 marks are very important as I will need to use them to apply to universities and bursaries. So, during my computer literacy subject in grade 12 I applied to all accounting bursaries I could find online. That led me to finding a bursary services company called Career Wise which allowed for me to apply online and to my surprise they called me for an interview and later for notification that I was awarded the bursary.
How do you choose which university to go to?
It was purely coincidental because I had application forms for all the universities and since I was in a boarding school I couldn’t hand deliver or post the applications forms myself. I asked one of the teachers from my primary school which was across the road from St Francis to post them on my behalf. The teacher only managed to post the Wits application and the other forms got lost when he had a car accident. So, technically I only actually applied to Wits, which is where I was accepted and went to complete both my degrees.
What was your experience with Career Wise from the time you received feedback from your application?
They called me in November just after I wrote my last matric paper inviting me to come to Johannesburg for an interview for the Oppenheimer Memorial Trust Scholarship with the Oppenheimer family. I was so excited as it was going to be my first time in Johannesburg and getting a scholarship meant my dream to be a CA was about to come true. The interview went well, and I was awarded the scholarship and I was invited to attend the Bursar Development i.e. Life Skills Programme along with other students on sponsorship with Career Wise in various disciplines.
Tell us more about the life skills programme.
I met a lot of people from different: provinces, cultures, creeds and backgrounds, while learning so much about myself in the process. Expressing myself comes naturally but it was good to learn about the different situations that happen in university and in life, where one needs to ask questions to seek further understanding which is something that stayed with me till this day. The programme basically teaches basic skills that are useful in everyday life like how to communicate effectively with others, conflict resolution, leadership, confidence and so much more… I really enjoyed it and I would like to help or get involved with that at some stage.
Tell us about your experience at university.
I faced so many challenges but the fact that I had Career Wise throughout was a miracle in my life. I started at Wits in 2014 and 1st year was good as I was still excelling getting distinctions. 2015 was the most challenging of all my university years because for the first time in my life I failed (2 subjects) which was a huge shock to me. I was really demotivated to continue with my studies and to make matters even worse I got news that my absent father has passed away. I had so many thoughts running through my mind: What am going to do with my life? How am I going to become a CA now? I consulted with my scholarship manager who was also like my mentor and appealed that I needed another chance on the scholarship. Fortunately, I was given that chance and I was monitored closely on a month to month basis until such time that my confidence in my studies and in myself was back on full swing. I had a mental shift about my life that my destiny was in my hands and being granted a 2nd chance added more fuel to my fire. I started consulting with lectures more when I didn’t understand just like I had learnt at Life Skills. I made friends with the “clever kids”, sitting closer to them in class and participating in the lecture to cement my understanding. That challenge of failing 2nd year, woke me up to the fact that others can believe in you but its up to you to believe in yourself and putting in the work to reach your dreams. I passed my 2nd year and 3rd year and had enough motivation to complete my post grad first time successfully.
Where are you at now and where do you see yourself?
I attended vacation work at KPMG and Deloitte while I was in university, so I had some work experience on my CV by the time I graduated, which helped me with how I got to where I am at now i.e. Trainee Accountant at Ernst & Young. My immediate goal is to complete my articles and pass my board exams, which is the only thing standing between me and the Chartered Accountant CA(SA) title.
What advice would you want to share to those coming behind you?
I have 3 parting words: Firstly, know what you want, believe you are capable of achieving it and work hard to do so. Nothing can limit you but yourself. If you can think about it, dream it, you certainly can achieve it. Secondly, Life is made up of 10% actions towards you and 90% reaction from you, meaning your life is how you manage opportunities, handle challenges and celebrate achievements. Lastly, Everything happens for a reason, there is always light at the end of the tunnel, keep the faith, do the labour and enjoy the journey.