2 June 2021

Don’t settle and remember your ‘why’ - Khuthadzo Mbedzi

Khuthadzo (Khuthi) Mbedzi

Khuthi needed to learn the importance of tenacity, hard work, drive and adaptability very quickly during her career. ‘I wanted to go to acting school, but my mom saw acting as a hobby, not a career,’ she laughs.

In Grade 12, she was still unsure of what to do, but after attending a career day, she decided that she wanted to be a CA, even though she didn’t even have accounting as a subject. ‘Someone mentioned if you become a CA, you earn half a million and you make a lot of money. In my head, I thought half a million every month, but I’m still waiting for that! [chuckles].’

She admits her first year at Wits University was very rough. ‘It was so bad! I didn’t know what debit or credit was, even though I went to pre-accounting school. I was failing in that course even before the year started!’

Toward the end of her first year, she admitted to her lecturer that she was struggling, and got the reply: ‘I don’t think this is the career for you, because it’s only going to get worse.’

To this day, Khuthi does not know what inspired and drove her to continue her accounting journey. ‘I just pushed and passed my first year. I failed my honours, though. So, it did catch up with me eventually. I am not a genius; I am a bookworm and needed to work very hard to get where I am. I never gave up and I did pass my ITC and APC with the first attempt, even though my uncle passed away the day before my ITC.’

During various opportunities in her career, including a work-study programme and articles at Ernst & Young, a secondment in London, a course in presenting, and serving as a product finance manager, senior internal auditor, finance manager head, and finance executive, Khuthi excelled in the roles yet struggled to settle within the roles when they no longer fulfilled or challenged her. ‘All the roles did grow me and opened up my mind to new possibilities and I also realised that being a CA(SA) is my purpose as it provides endless opportunities, especially because South African CAs are the cream of the crop.’

On the 1st of April 2020, Khuthi started in a new position at UAV and Drone Solution (a Bidvest Services subsidiary) as finance manager. ‘I started this role from home during lockdown. It was an exciting company and a great team. We had a great working relationship. But talk about diving in, in the middle of COVID! I never met my team face to face. There was no physical handover. It was intense and demanding …’

During September of last year (six months into her new role), Khuthi fell ill, and understandably so. ‘I was working crazy hours and I think, as with everyone, COVID affected me emotionally and mentally … It’s a blessing for us to still be standing now. It was a bit of a shock, with everybody falling ill, being completely alone, going through this change. And there is only so much support can do when people are not in the same room.’

When she fell ill, Khuthi resigned. ‘I had to focus on my health and at the same time I didn’t want to be selfish and leave the (work) ship without a captain.’

She used this time to complete her strategic leadership course with Gibs, as well as a life transformation coaching course. She was also approached by SAICA’s editorial assistant, Mpho Netshivhambe. Mpho connected with Khuthi on LinkedIn, initially looking for a CA in the tech space, but one thing led to another and Khuthi finally got to combine her passion for her profession with her passion for performing as the presenter for the Top 35-under-35 competition and has become an ongoing SAICA news presenter.

Unsure of what to do next after her recovery, Khuthi took to LinkedIn to share her experiences. ‘My passion lies with helping people and being on a strategy level and solving problems. That’s how my brain works,’ she explains. Her dream is to one day run her consulting company that addresses strategies and business controls and systems but starting out is not as easy as it seems to be, and she quickly realised she was not ready for this step yet.

‘LinkedIn is a powerful thing …’ she laughs. ‘I had written in January “exploring and awaiting my next best role” on my status.’ Shortly after, an agent sent her a message saying he has her “next best thing”. Within two weeks, she started the exciting position of CFO at GC2T. She loves it because she can get experience in the very things her consulting company will one day do. ‘I love being a strategist and leader! Every single role that I have had, has prepared me for this! ’

‘These days, people spend a lot of their time on LinkedIn and Instagram. Use it to inspire yourself – to follow other CAs and see what they are achieving,’ is her advice. ‘But remember, you have the power to choose who you follow and unfollow. You also have the power to decide what you want to feed your followers – what should people see when they go through your posts. Social media will give you what you go looking for. You must treat it responsibly.’

What Khuthi looks for is positivity, encouragement, peace and joy. However, authenticity and honesty are also important factors when it comes to posting. ‘You must be honest about the challenges, rather than just highlighting your achievements. This, in turn, might inspire someone else, rather than demotivate someone who may not be doing so well. Especially aspiring CAs must know it’s not all rosy − there are challenges and you will fail sometimes, but it’s all worthwhile. You can’t just want what glitters without being willing to put the diamond in the fire.’

Her advice to young and aspiring CAs is to remember your ‘why’. ‘It is OK to not always be certain. I have very rarely in my career felt like I knew what I was doing. But remember your “why”. Remember that this very moment is something you once asked for. That mindset changes everything. That, and staying positive. Invest in your personal wellbeing. Without it, nothing else can succeed.’

In your interactions with other people, be the best you can and make an impact, she advises ‘Every day is a new opportunity to kick ass and be the change you want to see. People must experience magic when they experience me, whether I am having a terrible day or a great day, because that is how I have defined myself. I give a bit of magic in any space I find myself in. That is what keeps me positive.’

‘Being a CA opens so many doors, including having an impact on other people. It allows and affords me to even do it on a greater scale. Much more so than I think acting would have done,’ she explains. ‘It can lead to absolutely anything when you put your mind to it.’

This interview was done a day before Khuthi’s grandma passed away. ‘She meant the world to me as she raised me and taught me life disciplines that helped me in my career.’ Khuthi knows her grandma was proud of her and would have wanted to see her grandchild on the ASA cover. ‘I will have to adapt and stay positive to move forward again in my new role as CFO. This is a tribute to the queen of my heart − my grandmother who was always proud of me and loved me dearly. RIP Sophia Nevhutalu Ndou.’