A CAREER DRIVEN BY A DREAM
Andronnica Masemola is not a name that rings a bell for many in corporate South Africa, but it’s a name not to be ignored.
City Press met with the executive divisional director of Barloworld Equipment, which is one of South Africa’s biggest construction equipment manufacturers, at the company’s headquarters in Johannesburg and found out how she has established herself as a symbol of professional excellence among her peers.
Although she excelled at academics, Masemola, who was born to a teacher and a government administrator in a family of four siblings, didn’t care much about career ambitions until she was in the middle of high school.
She clearly recalls the day in 1988 when as a 14-year-old she first heard of chartered accountancy from her Bela Bela High School career guidance teacher.
“That career guidance session for me was a turning point,” she said.
After matriculating, she went on to study at the now defunct Technikon Northern Transvaal, with financial assistance from a local nongovernmental organisation (NGO).
“I remembered that dream of 1988 and I applied to 10 audit firms ... that was in 1993 ... and none of them responded,” she said.
Fortunately, an opportunity to join the SA Revenue Service (Sars) presented itself and marked the beginning of her working life.
After completing her BCom degree while working at Sars, she went on to join the Auditor-General’s office, where she rose through the ranks until in 2006 she was appointed the head of the office in Gauteng, making her the first black woman to hold that position.
It was also during her time at the Auditor-General’s office, in 2002, that she realised her dream of becoming a chartered accountant. Her professional profile also skyrocketed as the auditor of the richest provincial government in the country.
Having reached the top of the provincial arm of the office of the Auditor-General, when her five-year contract ended she called time on her career in government.
“At the Auditor-General the focus was purely on auditing and I felt we were presenting recommendations but the same findings were recurring year-on-year, so being part of a broader firm that has got the opportunity to support these clients through advisory services I would be able to add more value,” she said of the motivation to finally leave public service and join KPMG as a partner.
Masemola said she still did not regret her choice to move to KPMG after two decades in public service, as that was a transition that “had to happen” at the time.
A patron of her home town’s Bela Bela Education Advocacy Group, an organisation whose objectives are close to her heart, Masemola reckons her career path has been paved with valuable lessons to help her clear the way for an easier life for those around her, rather than regrets.
“I don’t regret any decision that I have taken. It’s a learning experience for me. The main thing is what do I do with those lessons,” she said.
She acknowledges that women are very underrepresented in her field.
“The accounting profession generally has to transform. Transformation is a non-negotiable. Diversity is important,” she said, adding that her involvement in her previous employers’ transformation programmes helped open her eyes to some of the issues plaguing the private sector.
Masemola said it was important for the business case for transformation to be articulated and for its need to be made clear. The tone needed to be set at the top with the leadership of companies, she said.
She pointed out that the biggest problem remained introducing young professionals into the field because of the quality of education.
“The biggest challenge is getting the pipeline right. We know that to qualify as an accountant maths and English are the key requirements, and if you look at the quality of education now ... It’s very very hard and hence there are programmes like the Thuthuka fund,” she said, adding that though the country had almost 10 000 black accountants, more still needed to be done.
As Barloworld Equipment’s divisional executive director, a position she ascended to after joining the company as head of internal audit, Masemola said her sole goal was what it has always been: creating a winning team.
Barloworld Equipment executive divisional director Andronnica Masemola