For my second feature of #MindsoftheYouth, I met up with my friend and brother from another mother Mpho Selekedi. He is a Trainee Chartered Accountant (CA) at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), loves art – who said CA’s are not creative.
In primary school, Mpho was told by his teachers that he is great at drawing, painting and building. He was part of the three learners that were selected to create artworks for the whole school at Ndulwini primary school. On a lighter note, he used to draw pictures and sell them.
I really enjoyed the conversation with Mpho, I hope his journey will inspire and propel you to do even greater things in your life. For more information, please see the Q and A below.
Tell me about your upbringing and where you come from?
I come from Tembisa, for the past 26 years I have always been in Tembisa. I was raised by a single parent, I have three siblings. I started school at Endulwini primary school and I did my high school at Zitikeni. A funny thing happened before I went to high school; all the schools that I applied for didn’t accept me. As a result, I started my high school around February. Just like most people out there, I grew up without a father figure in my life and that was very tough for me, seeing my friends with their fathers broke my heart.
My mom played a huge role in caring and providing for us, I will forever be grateful to her for that. She did her level best to put food on the table by recycling bottles to get money, selling ice cream and alcohol at some point.
While growing up, I had a drastic change in my personality more like a metamorphosis. Earlier in my life I was very aggressive, short tempered and angry at my father for not being there for me. It then dawned on me that anger won’t assist me in anyway, peace and letting go of the hurt and anger was the start of greater things.
How old are you turning this year?
I am turning 27 on the 6th of March. I am starting to realise that I have grown so much and there are a lot of people who are counting on me, responsibilities are also growing both personally and professionally. I won’t lie, this age is quite scary but it doesn’t paralyse me.
What are your plans for this year?
To finish my articles and become a qualified CA (SA), I am finishing my articles in June this year. It has been a journey!
To develop myself with more technical and soft skills that are needed in my industry. There is a lot of demand for CA’s across the world.
I am still deciding whether I should do a short term secondment overseas or long term one.
What did you love to do in primary and high school and what were your favourite subjects?
In primary school I really loved art (drawing, painting and building) I was also told that I am good at it – I joined an art school at Multipurpose and they taught us about different art forms. I was part of the three learners that were selected to do artworks for the whole school.
In high school I still pursued art when I had to choose subjects for grade ten; art was accompanied by Accounting and other commercial subjects. Art remained my favourite subject except the history of art. However, a big change happened when I met my high school friend Nkululeko Nqoro who was more geared to business and he influenced me to view things differently. I started to focus more on commercial subjects such as Accounting, Business Studies and Maths Literacy and I excelled in them. In grade eleven Nkululeko and I finished the syllabus of matric while in grade eleven. We used to teach Accounting to matriculants while in grade eleven and as expected in my matric year I got a 99% in Accounting.
You voluntary redid grade eleven after passing it with a couple of distinctions why did you do that?
Nkululeko and I started a tutoring business and we wanted to become CA’s so we knew that we will need Mathematics and Economics on top of our other commercial subjects so we both decided to go back to grade eleven instead of doing our matric in 2009. We went back to grade eleven after getting permission from our teachers and parents; we did all commercial subjects including Mathematics now. Other learners thought we were crazy. However, we knew that it will be cheaper to repeat grade eleven than to do an extended CA programme in university with Maths Literacy. To cut the story short, I am grateful I made that call back then.
What did you study after high school and where?
BCom: Accounting Honours Specialising in Chartered Accountancy at the University of Johannesburg (UJ)
Why did you choose that course?
Heavily influenced by my high school experience of getting into business
When are you qualifying to be a CA (SA)?
I will qualify in June. I have already met all the minimum requirements; I have passed all my board exams.
What is your quake book and what does it talk about?
Screw It, let’s Do It – Richard Branson
It was strongly recommended to me by Nkululeko. It talks about how Richard Branson started his entrepreneurial journey at an early. The book taught me about the importance of STARTING things and not waiting to be perfect because no one is perfect.
What are you mostly proud of in your life thus far?
Passing my last CA board exam!
What is your personal philosophy and why?
Don’t have the victim mentality because it won’t get you anywhere
I am not limited to my skillset or comfort zone – never limit yourself
What do you stand for and why?
I stand for equality and fairness, because no one should be restricted to enter into any field they want.
What are you currently battling with and what are you doing about it?
I have different clusters of friends; I have my high school / varsity friends and then my kasi friends. I am more worried about my kasi friends because some of them have been left behind so I have been battling with guilt for the past two years or so that I am not doing my best to help them. Honestly, I personally feel responsible; it pains me to see them not progressing in life.
Are you voting this year?
Honestly for this one I am on the middle of the fence, meaning I am not sure whether I will vote or not. However, I have registered to vote. For me the issue is which party should I vote for and I don’t know because I don’t trust most of our political parties.
What are you currently watching or reading?
In my spare time, I prefer watching interviews around philosophy and politics; I enjoy Ben Shapiro and Jordan Peterson.
What do you do as a Trainee CA in layman’s terms?
In simple terms I would say, I am a financial investigator, I make sure that people who are running the company are actually fulfilling their duties. There is a gap between the person who runs the company and the person who owns the company and we bridge the gap in terms of trust.
What keeps you going?
I am addicted to knowledge; it actually pains me that our life span is so short. I wish I could learn every different sphere of knowledge. What keeps me going is that part of my job is not structured and what you do on a daily basis differs.
What can you say to people out there who are aspiring to be CA’s?
Being a CA is a big responsibility, before you enter into this industry you have to evaluate your own personality and passion because it is a long journey to become a CA. It requires a minimum of seven years and this includes doing your undergrad and post grad at university, doing your articles at an accredited company and also writing board exams (Initial Test of Competence and Assessment of Professional Competence).
How do you view failure?
Failure is vital to our success and it tests our character. We should embrace failure and take it as something we can learn from.
What is your favourite quote?
“Respect everyone not only those you want to impress” – Screw It, let’s Do It – Richard Branson