- “It is what it is, but it will become what you make of it.”
- Hi, I am Makhosazane Mampa, born and raised in Newcastle, in Northern KwaZulu Natal South Africa.
- I am a Chartered Accountant from SAICA (The South African Institute of Chartered Accountants) and a Senior Financial Manager by profession.
- But what is special about me? Nothing…. except, that when I was in grade 11, I fell pregnant and had my son.
- Here is my story of how with continuous hard work and resilience I went from teenage mum to Chartered Accountant and not becoming a victim of my circumstances!
I just wanted a ‘University Degree’!
Growing up my family was my only inspiration and rock.
My mother who is a teacher finished her matric at the age of 24 years and also went to college. While my father finished in his mid-30s and today holds short-term courses from Technicon South Africa.
My parents’ pursuit of education despite the added responsibility of building a family made me want to at least have a University degree. Also, I would also be the first person in my extended family to obtain a university degree!
Teenage motherhood and my parents’ divorce
While I identified my vehemence to make it to University, in Grade 11 I fell pregnant and had my son! The hardships that came with motherhood while still in school were enormous. I can’t even describe them in words!
Apart from becoming a mother at such a young age, at that time I had to deal with other struggles like being the eldest in a family of three girls and my parents’ separation!
In spite of all these hurdles, I became more obsessed with getting an education and so I returned to school when my son was just 6 days old!
I soon applied for my Bachelor of Accounting degree during Grade 12 at the then University of Durban Westville and worked on my goal to get a University Degree!
Studying while being a ‘teen mum’ and my urge to pursue CA
It was more than a challenge for me to manage both studies and a child.
Fortunately, the only reason I could make it happen is because of these three main support systems, who looked out for me wholeheartedly.
- My Accounting teacher who believed in me.
- My parents who supported my decision to go back to school immediately despite their own feelings they had to process with becoming grandparents and,
- My younger aunt who looked after my son during the day when I was in school.
While in my second year of university, I found out about Chartered Accountants and what they do when fellow students and tutors discussed the need to apply early for a training contract with an auditing firm.
That is when I decided I would also stretch myself and work towards becoming a Chartered Accountant.
I knew pursuing CA(SA) as a young mother would be quite challenging but my determination and fire to study did not shake!
I constantly kept myself motivated because just like all other stories I was quite sure mine too would have a successful ending.
And here started an amazing journey!
Timeline of my journey becoming a CA(SA)
2003, 2004, 2005
- For the first 3 years of my undergraduate degree, I received was a scholarship from my Father’s Employer, and hence my parents could manage to take care of the other expenses incurred.
- This year I came to an understanding that CA required a lot of preparation, and to become a CA from SAICA was an extra effort in itself!
- The only requirement I had so far completed was a Bachelors degree in Accounting. Now I had to get my Honours Post Graduation, complete 3 years of Articleship and I had to clear 2 board exams ITC and APC.
Started in 2005: Applying for articles
- I was in my last year of UG University of KwaZulu-Natal.
- This year I also had to apply for my articles. Out of all the big auditing firms that came to my university I applied for a training contract at PwC in my last year of UG Degree.
- My manual application was accepted and I also received a Bursary (Financial Assistance) for my Honours degree, which was such a relief.
2006: Clearing Honours Degree
- It was one of the toughest years in the university. Over and above the demands of CTA, in that year I was a tutor for Accounting 1 and 2 students, as well as a teaching Financial Reporting for first-year actuarial students.
- Around this time, I was also a part of this CTA group studies, where we shared notes, previous exam papers, a must-follow study plan, and to keep a track on the syllabus to be covered.
- When I think of it now, the only thing that helped me to get through the exams was group studies and having a support system.
- Needless to say, working and studying were very hectic, but I managed to clear Honours and the toughest CTA exams that year. That was a big achievement. (Yaayy!)
2007: Starting articles at PwC and writing ITC Board exams (TIPP)
- Unlike in 2006, 2007 was much better.
- I wrote my board exams this year in the month of March and also started my articles at the PwC Durban office in April.
- Later in the year, I was transferred to their Sunninghill office.
Nov 2007: Opting out of TIPP to TOPP
- Everything was going great, but I soon realized I was not very interested in Auditing!
- I decided to opt of TIPP (after 10 months of training) and transferred to TOPP. I felt TOPP would be good for personal growth and it paid more.
- There are days I’ve asked myself if it is worth it or if I am in the right career, however such periods pass and it’s always important to remember why you embarked on the journey in the first place.
- In these two years, I was on rotation in various departments to achieve competence levels as set out by SAICA for Internal Auditing, Financial Accounting, Managerial Accounting and Taxation.
- It was great learning. I also write APC (second board exam) and cleared the same.
- In 2010 I finally became a Chartered Accountant.
- This achievement made me believe that ‘Dreams do come true!’.
If you are pursuing CA(SA) I would say, it is necessary to be open and willing to learn. You must always remember why you started this in the first place. It should be your ultimate motivation to keep you strong from your deviations.
It is also important to know that every success and failure is an experience, it is either teaching you how to be or how not to be.
The three most important questions I get asked often;
“Why I decided to do my articles from TOPP and not TIPP?”
Well of course the learning environment is different in both. The greatest benefit in a TIPP is that it is more structured and your line manager or supervisor is almost always a CA themselves.
Whereas in TOPP albeit you might be exposed to the person teaching with lesser qualification, it is important to put the “learning cap” on at all times. But their experience is something to learn from, and you also grow faster as an individual since it pushes you to be proactive and take initiative to get things done for yourself.
I looked at this aspect as one of the best parts of the training. While deciding between TIPP and TOPP know, “WHY”. Why do you want to become a CA? Where do you see yourself in the future? Then work out on the; “HOW”. How is the best way (TIPP or TOPP) to get to what I want to be? My personal choice is TOPP and thankfully this decision has worked for me to get to my long-term vision.
“How I managed to fund my CA studies?”
For the first 3 years (during my undergraduate degree) I was studying through a scholarship from my father’s employer, the scholarship was only for undergraduate studies.
For my Honours degree – my tuition fees were paid by PwC and my parents funded the rest (accommodation, etc).
“How I prepared myself to complete Honours?”
Honours are tough but manageable if planned well. The university I did in, gave us 4 modules and one day off.
The university introduced an additional tutorial programme for learners from previously disadvantaged backgrounds by the National School of Accounting (NSOA).
My personal tips on how to prepare for Honours/CTA:
1. Work on Exam Technique
- The presentation is key. Work on short paragraphs, and remember to keep it precise and simple.
- Work on how you present your answers so the person evaluating it is kept interested as they read your answer and is motivated to give all the marks you deserve.
2. The most important factor is Time Management
- It does not matter ‘how much you know’ in answering a question if you cannot answer it in the available time you have! You will not be able to attend to other questions, and you will end up losing easy marks!
- So, plan how much time you will spend for each question based on the total time duration to finish the paper (e.g. 60 minutes) divide it by the marks (e.g. 40 marks), this gives 1.5 minutes per mark.
- Using the marks allocated to each question, use the 1.5 minutes per mark to determine the maximum time you should reasonably spend on that question. A 5 mark question = 7.5minutes, 10 marks = 15 minutes. This exercise takes about 2 mins and assists with getting to all the questions in your paper, you can always go back to a question you struggled with, later if there is time.
3. Compile a realistic Study Plan
- Identify which modules you are strong and weak in, plan to study for the ones you are weak in when you are most energetic. Keep the easy ones when you are least energetic, like as if it was a piece of cake!
- I am a morning person so I would study the concepts of auditing in the morning and keep accounting for the weekends, afternoons, or evenings!
4. Practice makes a man perfect:
- Practice with past question papers.
- Do not repeat a past paper if you get more than 65% when you mark yourself in your first attempt, 65% indicates that you know enough about that subject and you have to move on
5. A healthy body in a healthy mind:
- Exercise, even if it is just walking for 15mins a day! It will take you a long way.
Wrapping it up…
I’m proud to say that my firstborn is now 18 years old and is a first-year University student.
If you were to go through the same journey as I did, I would advise you to block the noise, process your own feelings about the situation and allow yourself into the feeling.
Lean on people who are giving you the right support, and sometimes it can be your friends too. Mostly ‘don’t be stuck’ in the experience for too long, you need to keep learning and growing and also take responsibility for your choices in life.
We all go through different challenges in our journeys, the key is ‘not to question our journey’ or compare ourselves to others.
Through our own prosperity, others prosper! You can take time to rest in your journey if need be, but never give up.
Now It’s Your Turn…
What is stopping you from achieving your goals? Need help? Comment below and I will answer all your questions.
(Article edited by Delena Rodrigues and image by Ankit Lodhi)
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