Accounting is a really good degree to enter the big world of business, finance and commerce.
Sicelo is a 3rd year student of BAcc at University of Johannesburg and is already making waves in the Accounting world. He won the UJ BDO Thought Project in 2013 and is also one of the team members of the winning team for the KPMG Case Competition who represented South Africa in Dubai at the end of 2015.
His enthusiasm for accounting is sincere, and he has clearly educated himself beyond what is being taught at university, as his wide knowledge of what is happening in finance across the world attests to. That said when, as a Grade 11 learner at school, he had the opportunity to do a Careers Insight with PriceWaterhouseCooper who invites learners to explore the world of Accounting, it was clear that going the CA route was the way forward for him. It fitted in with his long-term view for a career in Finance.
He looked at many universities before coming to a conclusion to study at the University of Johannesburg. Family considerations brought about a decision to stay close to home and thus apply locally, and a final decision to go the University of Johannesburg route was after considering the best chance of success, one that he certainly has no qualms in recommending to others. As he cogently states if you go the Chartered Accountant route, at the end of the day, everyone writes one Board Exam to gain entrance and accreditation by SAICA (South African Institute of Chartered Accountants) as CA. His sentiment is reinforced with the fabulous results for the CA ITC board exams that UJ students excel in.
Trying to balance life
Sicelo’s day starts at varsity around 7am each day and ends at 9pm. This does however, have a lot of breaks in between. He believes in approaching it like a job 8am to 5pm and if you prefer studying at home, the extra work gets done there. He puts in a lot of hours at the UJ library, and says that although it’s hard work and a lot of it, ultimately the point system is there for a reason. If you have managed to attain the minimum requirements, you do have the capabilities to get this degree with persistence and hard work.
He believes that students can hold down a part-time job in 1st and 2nd year if necessary, but he does not recommend doing this in 3rd year. Perhaps you could consider doing vacation work.
There is a fair amount of group work involved in the curriculum, from 2nd year onwards, which reflects the trends across universities world wide to further teamwork and thereby soft skills useful for the job market.
He has signed up for a vacation work programme with one of the top accounting practices, which re-enforces the work he has learnt and gives him exposure to the wider world of accounting early.
Looking towards the future
He mentions the caliber of the South African accounting and banking industry in world terms, and believes it comes from the high accounting standards set by SAICA that universities across the country have to follow. He can see the great technical knowledge he is attaining in auditing, tax, accounting and finance, and feels confident for his future. Furthermore the inclusion of ethics, and corporate governance and citizenship is more relevant than ever in the face of problems highlighted across South Africa today.
His advice to any learner considering accounting? If you know you want to be in the accounting field, research the different degree/diploma options at different institutions, talk to as many people as you can, and if possible, do some job shadowing to assess if this route is for you or not.
Sometimes a full CA route is not required, no matter the prestige associated with this degree. If you want to become a CFA, or be involved in the general banking and financial world, consider a BCom(Acc).