2 June 2021

Building her personal branding

Zimasa Tile

Zimasa Tile (29) from Johannesburg could be described as influential and inspiring, both in and out of the office. As a business manager to the Head of Investment Banking South Africa (IB SA) at Standard Bank, Zimasa’s adult life is a far cry from the little orphan girl from Mount Alyff in the Eastern Cape.

‘Having a great career is a worthy pursuit, but I hope to make my contribution beyond this sphere,’ says Zimasa. ‘I hope to use my position and influence not only to make a significant contribution to the accounting profession but to also make a noteworthy social contribution.’

Zimasa is passionate about education and actively endeavours to make a difference in the lives of people both in the workplace and the community. ‘Having had a difficult upbringing myself, I know first-hand that a good education and active social contribution is needed to uplift our nation.’

Zimasa’s parents did not matriculate and passed away when she was a young child. ‘As a young orphaned girl, I faced various challenges. I learned about the chartered accountant profession on a career day. Although it was sketchy at the time, it was the definite birth of my dream. Having never met a CA in my life, I solely depended on my schoolteachers as a source of information and motivation. The first-ever chartered accountant that I met was my lecturer at UCT!’ she laughs.

With the encouragement of an aunt who took her in and believed in the beauty of her dreams, Zimasa matriculated with distinctions, was awarded the SAICA Thuthuka bursary, and enrolled at the University of Cape Town.

‘At university, I continued to excel academically, tutored accounting, mentored students, and participated in other leadership roles. I continue to mentor many young people from different walks of life.’ She also became a public speaker with a focus on career, entrepreneurship and financial literacy.

As her career evolved and work demands increased, Zimasa adopted the use of social media as a platform to share her life experiences and informative talks on important subjects, enabling her to contribute to society in a far-reaching and meaningful way.

‘Through my social media platforms, I noted increased requests for mentorship, which encouraged me to start a YouTube channel (Mrs Tile). I use this platform to motivate and inform people on topics of interest such as budgeting, saving, good and bad debt, property, marital regimes and CA(SA)-related career topics. One of the videos that I created on YouTube titled “My journey to qualifying as a CA(SA)” has had over 11 000 views. My channel has total views exceeding 100 000 views.’

Through YouTube, Zimasa reaches a wider audience. Her relation to career topics is inspired by her own personal career journey and she has made it her mission to create content that shares inspiration and knowledge with aspiring CAs. Zimasa is also invested in women empowerment. ‘I hope to inspire career excellence and tenacity to all women, challenging them to seize opportunities and to realise they have a voice and can use it to make a meaningful contribution.’

For her, CAs must develop their personal brand, specifically digitally. Digital branding is the process of creating and promoting your online identity and brand and drive greater exposure. In the context of professional services, you can think of your brand as the visibility of your reputation.

‘These days personal branding has become even more important in terms of building work relationships and even getting meaningful employment opportunities. Take LinkedIn, for example. It is no longer just about a profile stating your achievements. It has become about you, curating your content, to be relevant and to flag your skills and expertise.’

She explains content curation as finding great content that you present on your social media to your connections and followers so that it can be of value to them. ‘For example, if you are an investment banker, you can share your achievements such as public deals closed and your thoughts on market activity. Discussing these with other people create meaningful and engaging content with regards to the topics that are important to you. This is the way you connect with people and form meaningful relationships. You would be surprised by the opportunities that can stem from this. Therefore, it is no longer just a matter of copying and pasting your CV online. Interaction has become the most important thing. It is what will make you stand out from others.’

When you are building a brand, it is firstly important to identify your skills and expertise. Secondly, identify your target market – for example, potential clients, fellow CAs and employers. You must position yourself in a way that stands out, that is unique and distinctive. ‘You need to engage and share relevant content. Your feed must reflect your interests and your area of expertise. You do not always have to share your own content. You can share other people’s articles on your feed if it is relevant and will make an impact.’

Another of Zimasa’s great tips is that you need to be consistent and relevant in posting. ‘You can’t say one thing today and the opposite tomorrow.’

Furthermore, Zimasa emphasises that you need to find a way to be authentic and not lose the human touch. ‘Yes, you are engaging online, but people will still form an opinion of who you are. The human touch makes the difference at the end of the day and will lead to meaningful relationships and possibly exciting opportunities.’

Following these guidelines will assist in creating trust in your brand among your connections and followers. ‘Trust is important because people will realise if you share something, it is something that you truly believe in and it is worth their time and effort. Don’t just share content for the sake of sharing. Content is king and must add value. If you have a strong brand, you should be able to leverage off the special capital that you have built.’

For Zimasa, especially aspiring or young CAs should be aware of the changes and the challenges that the fourth industrial revolution will lead to. The accounting profession will be impacted. However, CAs are no longer just number crunchers and there are certain aspects of an accountant’s skill set that will not easily be rendered redundant by digitalisation, such as strategic thinking. With that said, it is nonetheless important to set yourself apart and better position yourself for the future by building a strong brand, reading, and learning about a wider range of subjects and expanding your skills.’