Career switch yields life-changing outcome

What would you make of somebody who, throughout his entire school life, studied humanities, only to stumble upon the accounting field by chance at university? Talk about reconciling separate worlds of academia!

Such is the story of the new audit partner at the accounting and auditing firm, KPMG, Valens Mugabo. His new appointment, he says, is a dream come true.

In 1997, Mugabo enrolled for a humanities degree, which was a natural thing to do then given his background. The following year, he decided to instead register for an accounting course towards a degree, which meant starting all over again from freshman level.

Come 2001, he graduated with a much coveted Cum-Laude.

His sound academic achievement would be the genesis of his illustrious career in the accounting world after joining the elite class.

The reputable award-winning accounting firm (PMR Diamond Award) that is KPMG recruited him as a trainee accountant. But even as a trainee accountant, Mugabo dreamed big.

In 2002, he enrolled for a distance honours bachelor of commerce (BCom) in accounting and a Certificate in the Theory of Accounting (CTA) degrees with the University of Kwazulu-Natal.

“A full-time employee during the day and a student by night, it was very challenging because I hardly had a social life,” he says in reference to the challenges he faced while caving his career path.

As rigorous as his training may have been, while juggling work and studies, November 2006 would prove that he had indeed met his milestone achievement to be a chartered accountant (CA).

His career path grew phenomenally, as he rose through the structures that were compatible with the accounting and auditing firm. This saw him rise from a junior trainee to the senior audit manager; a position he held until his recent promotion.

“Being a partner is a big achievement for a CA because it is the highest level of hierarchy in public practice and career-wise,” he stresses.

According to Mugabo, he has what it takes to fulfill his new role to boost business growth in the KPMG world. His 12 years of experience, which cut across the retail, banking, aviation and mining industries, have given him the clout to take the business onto newer and better levels.

“I know most of the clients, I know the business environment, the cultures, issues and realities on the ground,” he beams.

As a senior audit manager, Mugabo has not only been handling very high profile positions but he has also been over-seeing critical aspects of the business; both internally and externally.

Getting to be appointed as a partner, he emphasises, is not a stroll in the park. One must prove his worth as far as business growth is concerned. He is thus grateful to KPMG for recognising his hard work.

The company, he asserts, has a forward way of thinking, which he foretells will undoubtedly strengthen the current team of partners to grow the business further.

He is, however, appreciative of the training one goes through at KPMG for it is so thorough that one can easily take on whatever challenge or project head-on. In addition, auditors often work on deadlines and this is very fundamental in making sure that they satisfy the clients. As such, they are driven by the need to meet those deadlines and over time, they are battle-hardened for a tougher world out there.

While their role seems hidden from the average person’s daily life, Mugabo says in real sense, it is in value addition to the organisation. This is because as external auditors, their work and findings inform management and owners - both in the private and public sectors - of the actual performance of the company in terms of profitability and financial position. This validation is key for investors both locally and internationally. Audit reports also play a fundamental role in assuring the receiver of revenue of payable taxes.

While the job is demanding, Mugabo says his is a very rewarding career. Reasons for that conclusion are numerous but for starters, CAs are very few, not only in Namibia but the world over. Thus, their rarity makes them darlings of the corporate world, primed for senior positions.

Additionally, their drawing card lies in their receipt of some of the cutting edge in-house training on the latest trends and developments, which is uncommon in other fields.

Working in various sectors also creates sound experience of running a business enterprise. This is one of the benefits CAs who work for specific companies enjoy.

In Mugabo’s view, it comes as no surprise that most CAs are head-hunted for top-flight positions including chief executive spots due to their wealth of experience. This, he says, makes them invaluable assets that boost investor confidence in businesses.

As the news of his appointment still sinks in, Mugabo submits, his immediate priority is to grow in this new position. Although he is certain that his success hangs on the staff’s contribution, he is willing to tirelessly support them to meet the objectives of the company.

“Planning is the key to success in the accounting and auditing world,” he concludes. PF