Climbing Hills in Heels
Article written by Likeleli M. Monyamane.
This will be my last week serving my articles as a trainee accountant. I am getting signed off at the end of the month and as with an end of any great journey, I am forced to reflect back on the past three years of my life that I dedicated to ensuring that I obtain a CA(SA) qualification. I decided to share my reflections with you, the reader of ElleAfrique Magazine, because it is a true example of the progress that this country, South Africa, has made in the transformation of the accounting profession to ensure that more women and black people qualify as Chartered Accountants. This is indeed a reason to celebrate.
When I began my journey 3 years ago, I was at the worst point of my life as far as self-esteem is concerned. I had just failed my honours degree at the Universtity of the Free State, the first time that I failed anything in my life. Due to financial reasons I had to make the decision to begin my articles and pursue my honours degree part-time. At that time the success rate of people who were pursuing their honours degree and working at the same time was almost zero in our office and most people I met in the workplace were very negative about me achieving my goal of getting my honours degree that year. 3 years later I am almost a Chartered Accountant.
In this journey I learned a few important lessons that I would like to share three of them.
1. ALWAYS believe in yourself
You have to believe in yourself, even when you have no reason to. Even when no one else believes in you. Even when everything in you tells you to give up. Even when you feel like your dream is impossible and absurd. You have to believe in yourself, no matter what.
2. Someone is ALWAYS watching
I had a conversation with one of the Directors at work about my plans after articles and he expressed a desire to retain me as a permanent employee. This took me by surprise as I didn’t think I would be one of the people who would be retained. He said he had been watching me since my first year and that he had made it a point to ask about me throughout the three years and that he knew I was someone they would want to keep in the firm. This made me realise that even in those moments when I worked hard and felt under-appreciated, someone actually took notice. Imagine if I had slacked due to lack of recognition and reward. This would have cost me a great opportunity of post-articles experience.
3. The end of one journey is the beginning of another
This lesson is the greatest lesson I learnt and the main theme of this blogpost. When I passed my honours, I was very excited and thought I had finally arrived, only to find that I still had to work hard to pass my first board exam. When I finally passed the exam after failing it the first time, I had to study again to pass the second one. Many people told us that the second one is very easy and it was just a formality. For me this was not the case, I had to study hard and even had to write a supplementary exam to get admission to the final exam. Once again, I have another battle to win. As my articles come to an end on 31 January, I only have 2 days to celebrate because on the 3 February I will begin another journey in the next phase of my career.
“After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can rest only for a moment, for with freedom comes responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not yet ended.” Former South African President, Nelson Mandela
Obtaining my CA qualification will surely come with a lot of responsibility as currently on 32% of CAs in South Africa and of the 32% only 11% are black (www.saica.com). More still has to be done to increase both percentages to at least 50% and to get this done is the responsibility of our generation of Chartered Accountants.
I am greatful to the Mandela generation who fought battles that ensured we have the opportunity to pursue anything that we want as women, and now it is our generation’s turn to ensure that women are informed of these opportunities and that we make use of them. The need for more to be done to ensure women empowerment and equality is not only true for our profession but for women all over the world, especially women in African countries where women’s rights are still not a priority for governments.
We are a generation of women who wear heels that are made not for fashion but for function because we understand that there are many hills of corporate, social, political and other success that have to be climbed and we embrace that it is our responsibility to climb and conquer these hills. We cannot be satisfied that we have the opportunities while many women still don’t have access to the opportunities and equaliy that they deserve as human beings.