CityPress - - Business - LE­SETJA MALOPE le­setja.malope@city­press.co.za

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

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