Zarin Patel has finance in her blood. One of her most vivid childhood memories is going with her father, a bank manager for Barclays, to his place of work and playing in the vaults. “It was one of those old-fashioned branches where the manager would sit on a raised platform literally overseeing everything.
Sizwe Nxasana has a personal philosophy that a CEO should lead an organisation for no longer than 10 years. “It’s important – not only for your own personal growth but for the development of the company. After 10 years, it’s time to create opportunities for others to take a firm forward and create new challenges for yourself.”
Ronan Dunne admits to being a bit of a financial geek as a child, reading the Financial Times and managing his own small share portfolio. “It’s fair to say I’ve been fascinated by business from an early age,” he smiles.
When Rhys Faleafa was General Manager of iconic New Zealand streetwear brand Huffer, he would pitch up at business meetings with people expecting him to be streetwise and enterprising. But what they don’t always expect is that he’s a qualified Chartered Accountant with a wealth of consultancy, lecturing and audit experience behind him.
When Martin Murray, finance director of Cathay Pacific Airways, recruits someone, he admits the Chartered Accountancy qualification can have a lot of sway. It has been well over 20 years since he himself qualified as a Chartered Accountant with Ernst & Young in Glasgow – but it’s an experience that still lives with him vividly.
Ian Livingston admits one of his defining traits is an impatience to make things happen. “It’s a belief, a knowledge, that things don’t have to be the way they are – you can change things if you are passionate, you care and you are willing to put in the hard work.”
Belinda Hutchinson almost gave up on Chartered Accountancy before she had barely started. “I was two weeks into my training in Sydney and thought, ‘I’m not cut out for this – I’ve made a dreadful mistake. What do I do?’” she says. “A partner at the firm suggested I stick it out and I moved into consulting, becoming more involved in helping clients with their business opportunities and problems – I found I really enjoyed it.”
Shane Fitzsimons reckons he flies 100,000 miles every quarter – “that’s like travelling from London to New York ten times a month. It’s amazing how your perception changes of what ‘far’ is when you’re in a job like this.”
If you’re ambitious to succeed in business in South Africa, Chartered Accountancy seems the closest thing to a passport to success. “I believe we have more companies in South Africa led by Chartered Accountants than any other profession,” says Peter. “It’s uniquely the one qualification that trains you in the way of business.
Many business leaders can cite a specific event or decision that critically shaped the direction of their career. For Nat Chan, that event happened over two decades ago, while in his first year at Macquarie University, Sydney, when he decided one afternoon to go with some friends to a one-hour lecture on accountancy.