Mpahlela Mokgatle (29) chats to us about not letting failure discourage him from reaching his goal of becoming a chartered accountant. By Kwanele Mathebula
Mpahlela Mokgatle on becoming a chartered accountant
I discovered my love for
accounting while attending
Jeppe High School for Boys
in Kensington, Johannesburg. In grade 11, I was among the top three students for accounting. One day, my teacher asked us to prepare a Curriculum Vitae. He then sent them to Binder Dijker Otte (BDO), an accounting firm in Johannesburg. Two weeks later, BDO called about a bursary interview. It was informal; I was asked about my interests, extracurricular activities and academic history. A few weeks later, I was awarded a bursary to study Bachelor of Accounting Sciences at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits).
Studying accounting was
tougher than I thought. In 2009, I started my first year at Wits, and was excited about studying towards my degree. My first two years were easy. But, I failed my final year. Because I wanted to complete my studies, I went back to university to repeat it. I graduated in 2013 while pursuing my honours degree, which I also failed. This affected my confidence, and resulted in me questioning if I still wanted to pursue a career in accounting.
I persevered, and decided to do
my articles in 2014. Additionally I continued my studies for my honours degree at Monash South Africa. I was juggling school and work, and it was demanding. But, I managed to pass. This made me eligible to write the two board exams, which were the last two steps to qualifying as a chartered accountant. I achieved that in 2016. Each time I failed, I learnt to pull up my socks and try again. I saw failure as a stumbling block that I wouldn’t allow to deter my path to greatness.
Being a chartered accountant
exposed me to other career
avenues. In 2017, I started working at BDO as an assistant manager. In the same year, I was headhunted by FNB; the bank offered me a position as a financial manager. I worked in the auditing department, an area in which I did my articles.
Five months later, it started to feel mundane. I wanted something that stimulated me, and to feel that I was contributing to the world. I went back to BDO and spoke to the CEO, Mark Stewart, who told me that he wanted me to head the company’s business development department. Here, I work with different departments such as marketing, research, tax, auditing and strategy to bring in new business. It’s a collaborative effort, and has helped me to learn about industries I wouldn’t have been exposed to had I remained solely in accounting. My days are totally different, which keeps my job interesting. I also mentor students who study through BDO Builds, a platform that provides them with mentorship, learning and growth opportunities. This is what I needed when I was studying – support that was more than just financial.