From Administration Clerk to Financial Manager:

Ntombizodidi Dawn Le Godi's Inspiring Journey as a SAIPA Project Achiever Alumni
Bonginkosi-ZwaneSAIPA’s annual Project Achiever programme supports young and aspiring Professional Accountants (SA) to advance their accountancy career, which for many is the fulfilment of a lifelong dream. In this series, SAIPA introduces you to some of the accomplished Project Achiever alumni to inspire both present and future members about the world of possibility of being a SAIPA member.

1. Tell us about yourself and your career thus far.

My first job after matric was as an administration clerk. Like many young people in South Africa, at the time that I matriculated I had to begin working immediately to provide for my family and fund my studies. After working and studying part time at the University of South Africa, I eventually obtained my qualification and the rest, as they say, is history. Currently, I am a financial manager at the Central Johannesburg TVET College.

Prior to that, I worked at the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) for 15 years, with eight of those years as the senior manager for compliance and credit control, overseeing the entire finance function. I maintained the general ledger and compiled the management reports, as well as participated in in the year-end internal and external audit processes. I also played a role in formulating policies and standard operating procedures for the finance department. During my last two years at PRASA, I was also a manager in the supply chain department, monitoring the governance and compliance processes in line with relevant legislative requirements.

2. What attracted you to the accountancy profession?

I was drawn to the high level of exposure to a diverse range of career options, as well as the business opportunities that open to you as a qualified Professional Accountant (SA). You certainly won’t run out of choices. In addition, the training opportunities that are afforded to accountancy professionals are also impressive, enabling those in the field to think more holistically about the value they can provide to businesses and society at large.

3. Tell us a about your experience with Project Achiever.

I didn’t have the opportunity to complete the 3-year articles that is the typical route to entering this profession. I was encouraged to discover that SAIPA and Project Achiever recognise a minimum of six years of professional experience in an accounting environment as a criteria, which I had fulfilled prior to joining the programme. I had come to a point in my career where I really wanted to write the Professional Evaluation (PE) board exam and I joined Project Achiever to help prepare me to do this. At this point, I had not been in a formal educational environment for over 20 years, so this was a daunting decision, but one I am glad I made. The preparation and support we received during the programme really changed my mindset and helped boost my confidence. The active learning technique that we are trained on was particularly helpful for me to engage with the course material in a holistic way and better understand how it could be applied to a practical work environment.

4. How has being a SAIPA member benefitted you?

The training that is available through SAIPA can really open doors to professional opportunities one wouldn’t necessarily have had access to. I also appreciate the commitment of SAIPA to the Continuous Professional Development of its members, which can also help you further your career.

5. What is the one thing you wish somebody had told you early in your career?

Your circumstances don’t shape your destiny. Going through the difficult journey it took to get to where I am today took a knock on my self-confidence, both personally and professionally. What I’ve learned from overcoming that, is that to achieve your dreams you need to break free from imposter syndrome and remember your true self – the self that is more than capable of reaching your dreams. I wish someone had shared this perspective with me earlier in my career journey.

6. Who has had the biggest influence on your life?

My mother. She has set a great example for me. She has consistently set a remarkable example and is truly my hero. Throughout my upbringing, I witnessed her navigate challenging life circumstances, yet she never wavered in her determination to achieve her goals. Her resilience is truly admirable, and I hold great admiration for her.

7. What is your philosophy of life?

My philosophy of life is to not entertain negative mindsets. A quote from the Protestant priest Martin Luther that guides me throughout my life is “you cannot keep birds from flying over your head but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair”. A person becomes what a person thinks – and I choose to think thoughts that empower, rather than limit, me.

8. What are some of your interests/passions, outside of the office?

I enjoy reading a lot, especially personal growth books. I am also a big moviegoer, especially with friends. I am also passionate about lending a hand in underserved and remote communities and spreading awareness about accountancy as a career option for the young people in those areas.

9. What do you consider the biggest opportunity you received thus far?

Having the opportunity to work on projects that involve improving processes and turning around struggling departments are opportunities that stick out for me. I am grateful for opportunities that allow me to create real, tangible value within an organisation.

10. What are your hopes for your future?

I would like to continue to inspire young accountancy professionals, especially those under my leadership. I would also like to see our profession becoming more connected with people and organisations outside our usual bubble, for example by creating more awareness in underprivileged communities about the opportunities that are available within accountancy or by passing on simple accounting skills to local and informal traders that are also participating in our economy.