Nangula Uaandja at a glance
PRICE waterhouse Coopers (PwC), the financial assurance, tax and advisory services company with a global outreach, has just made some major announcements of its leadership structure in Namibia.
PWC has managed to grow its client base in Namibia over the years and now boasts of two offices in Windhoek and Walvis Bay and a large staff compliment of committed partners and team leaders that was announced recently. Pulling the reins of this new organisational structure is Nangula Uaandja, the new Managing Director and Partner-in-Charge.
Nangula is not a new face at the organisation as she has grown up with the firm that she literally knows all round like the back of her hand. When Prime Focus spoke to her, it was not too difficult to see why.
“I am an open and transparent person who is consistent in words and action.” This is one little phrase that Nangula can adequately describe herself with in her new position at PwC.
“With every new promotion comes some privileges but most of all, new responsibilities. I am a person who enjoys challenges because they provide an opportunity not only to make a difference but also to grow as an individual and I will do just that,” she says.
One of the things that came to Nangula’s mind upon being appointed to the new level was never to invent a wheel, but rather work within the PwC values and beliefs and help her Namibian team chart the way forward.
“I believe as PwC we have defined who we are and where we see ourselves contributing. Thus, I will not see myself changing our vision, mission, etc. What I see my team and I doing are continuing to build on the strong foundation that was already put in place by my predecessors. We will ensure that we are in contact with our stakeholders and continue to deliver an unmatched service to our clients. Besides maintaining our industry focus and drive, there will be specific emphasis on the Private Company Services, State-Owned Enterprises and Employment Equity.”
When compared to other PwC partnerships around the world, Namibia does not seem to offer much business at first glance, but Nangula believes that there is a large scope of business in the country because of the existence of greenfield projects and opportunity for SMEs. The fact that most Namibian business entities are either controlled by or owned by South African companies does not matter much. For Nangula, this is actually a plus and creates room for local development and growth.
“The current environment creates an opportunity for us to develop our SME sector as indeed every entrepreneur can come up with brilliant ideas that can grow into large businesses. Some businesses, for example the CIH group, Prosperity, DMH, United Africa Group, J&P Group and others have done so in the past and have proven to be successful. It is one of our goals that we stand together and walk the journey with our businesses in this market and offer solutions to their complex business problems so as to help them grow,” she adds confidently.
The team at PwC Namibia comprises mainly of some young and energetic people, and Nangula says having a team of such people provides more opportunities for the company than challenges. In total about 180 people trade their skills at the firm in Namibia. The company is always out there for new skills and new ideas, hence upon her appointment, a number of new positions were also announced.
“New blood means new ideas and faster implementation. We are mindful though of the fact that as good as it is to have new blood, there is a saying that goes “some wisdom only comes with a bit of grey hair”. We are blessed enough to have such wisdom on our team as well to ensure that the young ones are kept within checks and balance.”
She is constantly reminded of her predecessor ’s wise words recently, which alluded that “the only constant thing at PwC is change”. She says PwC is one of the firms in the world that provides a training ground for its staff before being released to the larger business community on a continuous basis.
“This creates good opportunities for the growth and development of our people. At PwC, your growth is determined by one’s level of commitment and willingness to grow. There is never a limit to one’s growth and development opportunity due to someone else’s lack of progress. It is all in your hands,” Nangula says.
Some of the senior appointments made at PwC include the elevation of Ms Patty Karuaihe-Martin and Mr Louis van der Riet to the positions of Tax and Advisory Leader and Chief Operating Officer respectively from being just partners. According to Nangula, this falls in line with the company’s philosophy for growth.
“PwC has a record as an organisation that grows fast. In the past few years, our firm grew by more than 100%. With the implementation of our strategies, this trend will continue. It is our strategic intent to substantially grow, especially our Tax and Advisory departments in the next three to four years. Our Assurance practise is the largest in the market and we have to ensure that we do not only sustain the current market share but also grow it steadily. Our appointment of the above-mentioned leaders thus supports this strategic growth intent, with specific market and industry focus.”
Getting into such a position cannot come without an impressive CV. Nangula’s relationship with PwC Namibia goes as far back as 1994 when she applied for holiday work – an experience that was to be repeated in 1995 and 1996. Upon completing her Bachelor of Commerce degree at the University of Namibia in 1997, she started articles as part of her training contract at PwC with a purpose to qualify as a Chartered Accountant. In that same year, she registered for a part-time honours degree (Certificate in the Theory of Accountancy) with the University of South Africa, which was obtained at the end of 1997.
In 1998 she passed the Final Qualifying Examination as set by the Public Accountants and Auditors Board. This was followed with the completion of her training contract and qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 2000. Her journey to the top position at PwC Namibia is a reflection of her hard work and dedication to the company.
“Through the years, I was promoted from being a junior accountant to senior accountant, then to assistant manager to manager, then senior manager to principal/associate director and finally to partner in 2002.”
In 2005 she became part of PwC Namibia’s Executive Committee and in 2009, she was elected to be PwC Namibia’s representative on the PwC Southern Africa’s Governing Board. Her appointment by the CEO of PwC Southern Africa as a member of the Exco Advisory and Innovation Hub in 2009 was then followed by her recent elevation as the new PwC Namibia’s Managing Director in June this year.
As of now she believes PwC is her first and hopefully my last employer as she was blessed enough to start a career, “which I am passionate about and I have never looked back since then”. She believes that putting any timeline on her career with PwC may not be the most important consideration at this stage in her life.
“ As much as I believe in goals and in putting efforts to realise those goals, I believe I am here to fulfil God’s purpose for my life and I take steps as He directs. If in 5 – 10 years from now PwC has grown and made a difference in Namibia, then my goal would have been realised.
For any woman in Nangula’s shoes, maintaining the family/work balance could be such a challenging task, but she takes it in a stride:
“I am married with three boys aged, 8 years, 6 years and 1 month. I am a daughter to my parents who are both well and living in the north. Though I have only two sisters and four brothers, my parents’ house was always filled with uncles, aunts, cousins, etc. It was great growing up in our home and I believe this contributed a lot to who I am and to my leadership potentials.”
She attributes the attainment of her duties to the good support that she gets from her family and partners and managers at PwC. She has also done quite well at delegating responsibility and has over the years learnt to trust others to have work done.
“For example,” she says “I am currently at home on maternity leave and my colleagues are there providing support to ensure that I can spend time with my family. At home I’ve got a great husband who supports me very well. If one does not have a supporting husband, it is not easy to make it in this profession.
There are times when I have to work late. In these cases, my husband understands and supports my work. My husband is also a professional who does personal business transactions and he understands when I have to work as I understand when he has to work. He drops the kids at school and other activities and he has a good relationship with the children.”
Blending family and work life with Christian values has inspired her over the years. As a very committed Christian and also an elder within the Church Council, she is also involved in other activities such teaching bible study to a group of friends, teaching on leadership to accounting students from UNAM and teaching at the African Leadership Institute.
Besides that, she is a very indoor person who spends time relaxing watching good movies either at cinemas or at home. Reading Christian, business and leadership books are at the top of her list.PF