Interview with 2nd Year Trainee CA Zanethemba Malinga

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road to becoming a chartered accountant in SA
Accountant Zanethemba Malinga doing her 2nd year of articles en route to becoming a CA(SA)

Tell us a little about yourself

I am Zanethemba Malinga from Pinetown in Kwa Zulu Natal. I matriculated at St Francis College and then proceeded to do my tertiary education at the University of Cape Town where I obtained my Bachelors in Commerce specialising in Financial Accounting (CA option) degree. I then obtained my Post Graduate Diploma in Accounting at the University of Kwa Zulu Natal (Westville Campus).
I am currently in my second year of articles about to write my second board exam in November.

You are a second year trainee CA on the road to getting a CA(SA) qualification, did you always want to be an accountant?

Chartered Accountancy was amongst the three options of careers that I wanted to pursue after matric. I applied to do Engineering at Wits as my father was pushing me towards that direction but I personally didn’t enjoy physical sciences at all. I therefore had two other options Actuarial Sciences and Accounting. I did Actuarial Sciences in my first year at University and then I changed to accounting as Actuarial Science was not what I expected it to be.

What did you study in university and what are the different ways one can become a Chartered accountant in SA?

Firstly, I studied BCOM Accounting in university as my undergraduate degree. I then did my Post Graduate Diploma in Accounting as it is a requirement in becoming a CA(SA).

The following are the other ways one can become a CA:

·         You can study part time through UNISA while completing your articles.
·         If you have completed a degree, apart from an Accounting related degree, you can do a conversion course for one year and then after that one year you can go straight into PGDA provided that you pass the conversion course. At the moment I only know of UCT that offer the conversion course.

What did you enjoy the most about university?

Like any other student, I enjoyed the holidays and not having to wake up for lectures because you could watch the recordings from the comfort of your own room lol…

What were the biggest challenges for you in university?

My biggest challenge in University is the jump from undergrad to post grad. This was the biggest jump of my life because of the adjustment that was required. In undergrad I hardly attended lectures and I would catch up quite easily just before the tests and exams. I couldn’t apply the same strategy in Post grad, you miss a single day of lectures and tutorials catching up would be a mission.

You work for a big 4 firm, what does that mean? As in what are the advantages of working for a big 4 firm instead of another type of accounting company?

It means great exposure to big clients in the industry which looks really great on your CV.

Is the work you do what you expected when you were still a student?

As I started working as a first year, the work that I was doing was not the work I was expecting to do when I started my CA journey. But as the year progressed and got given more responsibility and more exposure to the exciting work, the work became more interesting and even better than what I had expected as a student.

After qualifying as a CA(SA) what are the possible career paths one can take?

There are a lot of career paths one could take, below I will just list a few:
·         Financial manager at a company
·         Asset Management company
·         Private Equity
·         Assistant to the CFO

Do you have any tips or advice for anyone who wants to become a chartered accountant one day?

The journey to becoming a CA is not smooth sailing, there are a lot of bumps on the road. All you need to do is persevere as it will all be worth it one day. Some would say you should have done medicine as it takes round about the same number of years to qualifying as CA(SA) but if you enjoy numbers and working with people, as you get to meet interesting people at the clients which increases your network and helps when it comes to building your brand, then being a Chartered Accountant is the career path you should be exploring.

Editors note: If you want to study to become a CA just because you grew up being told that it's a high paying job, you must know that it has one of the lowest starting salaries for a career where people start off with a post graduate qualification. Auditing firms where you will get the most experience pay you very little at first and companies in Johannesburg tend to pay better than companies in the rest of South Africa. At best you will start making serious money after 6 years.

Next: Interview with Dr Luke Sampson about medical school and internship

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