Out to Lunch with Dion Shango
AWCA in partnership with PwC held an Out to Lunch event in May this year, with Dion Shango as the guest of honour. Dion Shango was appointed to take over the reigns of PwC CEO: Southern Africa, from Hein Boegman in July 2015. Shango is the first Black African to be assigned this position.
The luncheon, which was hosted at PwC in Johannesburg, kicked off with a discussion with Nana Madikane Partner/Director at PwC and the company’s Transformation and Diversity & Inclusion Leader, who spoke about the current initiatives within the company that are geared towards transformation on all levels, but particularly on a partnership level, which she admitted is usually the most challenging to transform.
Mr. Shango then spoke about his own journey, his career path and how he ended up as CEO of PwC. He told the attentive audience that it was never a concrete plan of his to become CEO, but that he decided after completing his articles at PwC, that he wasn’t particularly drawn to anything outside of the company, so he stayed and did his best each day. This led him to being put in charge of the Mining and Metals Group, from where he was appointed as Head of Insurance, and ultimately CEO. Shango also made mention of a key relationship that resulted in his consistent rise through the ranks. He credits Hein Boegman (former CEO: Southern Africa and now Africa CEO of PwC), whose mentorship and support through the years are what helped propel his career forward.
When the floor was opened for a Q&A session with Mr. Shango, the dominating topic of discussion was transformation, with candid dialogue arising around BEE deals, which are now mostly concluded and show less transformative impact for Black Africans than was initially aimed. It was noted that fault occurred in the way these deals were structured, with banks, lawyers and auditors benefiting more so than those for whom BEE was intended to serve.
Another relevant point that was raised is transformation within PwC, which has consistently produced the highest amount of black CAs for the last fifteen years, however the company’s retention rate of these black trainees once they have completed articles, is relatively low. Dion admitted that the biggest quandary for him as CEO has been how to inspire a culture of transformation within the company, adding that the phenomenon was mostly due to the culture at management level not being focused enough on transforming by way of the retention of black trainees. He spoke about some of the plans that have been put in place to address these challenges, such as incentivizing people at management level to buy into the Transformation agenda, encouraging them to take on mentorship roles and to identify and nurture those black, Indian and coloured trainees that are showing promise within the company.
One thing that Shango was adamant about communicating at the Out To Lunch event was that every single person can and should drive the Transformation agenda from wherever they are operating. You may think that you are just one person and therefore your efforts and contributions are not significant, but for Dion, one person’s constant mentorship and support over the years, helped him to achieve his current level of leadership. Therefore it is imperative for every person to help transform the industry in their own personal capacity, in order for us all to be successful at changing the outlook for our future black leaders.
AWCA thanks PwC, Ms. Madikane and Mr. Shango for their time and valuable insight.
OUT to Lunch with Brooks Mparutsa
Perhaps you’ve heard the saying “numbers are a man’s game”. Perhaps this was the case in the 70’s when shoulder pads and bee-hive hairstyles were the order of the day. Much has changed since then and the Charted Accountant profession is no exception. Brooks Mparutsa, Hollard’s Chief Financial Officer and a qualified Chartered Accountant, reflected on the days when he qualified: “there were only two African CAs in my year. 19 years later, there are more than 3200 qualified African CA’s in our Country and the number is growing” says Brooks.
Out to lunch was the theme of an energy-packed afternoon, held at the Hollard Campus in the beautiful Villa, on Thursday 30 January 2014. Quite appropriate to the date was the fact that thirty African Female Chartered Accountants gathered for a delicious lunch followed by inspiring speeches by several of Hollard’s Exco Members: Nyeleti Shirilele, Heidi Brauer and Brooks Mparutsa. Also in attendance as were several, young and talented trainee CA’s who decided many years ago that becoming a CA was what they were born to do. It’s was remarkable to hear how this dynamic and distinguished organisation has apart from their full-time role of mentoring, aiding and marketing the profession, also successfully managed to mentor and sponsor 58 young women by means of a full bursary, in order to become qualified Chartered Accountants.
To some, the letters CA simply represents the naming convention of the Capetonian number plate. To most organisations, a CA is an integral part of the staff. Without them, these organisations would not be able to operate. “Women are far more than just an opposite sex to men, they are un-replicable and courageous and their contrast in society must be celebrated” said Heidi in her opening address to the audience. Do you remember your Grandmother telling you that eating all your carrots at dinner was good for your eyesight; or that putting butter on your skin after a burn would help with the healing process? Well, according to Brooks, there are even crazier myths out there. “Women are not ambitious, not willing to make the necessary sacrifices it takes in the corporate world and that women lack in confidence”. He asserted that the women he has worked with are proud, courageous, hard-working and committed and every single woman that attended the luncheon is a walking, talking, breathing example of just how successful women in South Africa are. “A woman should walk tall, smell like a woman, dress like a woman and be proud to be a woman”, said Nyeleti. “Gone are the days when in order to make it in a so-called man’s world, women had to pretend to be as tough as a man,” chuckled Nyeleti. “The truth is women are as tough as any man, if not tougher and we need to celebrate this difference by not seeing this as just that, a difference, but rather as an opportunity to make a difference”, Heidi responded.
In a world where we are judged not by who we know, but rather by the scars which we carry on our backs, we need to remember that anything can be accomplished. Whilst the lunch was predominantly about Women, the lesson to be learnt by everyone is that with hard work, determination and perseverance, we can be the change that we ultimately wish to see.
By Darron Sahayek