Success can be measured by a number of different markers, but in the CA (SA) sphere, true success lies in being an all-rounder – doing well both professionally and personally, and contributing to the community they live in. This is why Accountancy SA hosts the annual 35-under-35 competition to recognise and celebrate individuals who are doing well in terms of leadership, career achievements and CSI initiatives. In this post we shine the spotlight on Donald Fisher-Jeffes, a director at Webber Wentzel.
As a boy, Donald Fisher-Jeffes dreamed of being the next Stefan Edberg, the professional tennis player. But after reading The Firm by John Grisham, and with various family members’ passion for law, he set his sights on becoming a criminal lawyer instead.
He entered university intent on pursuing a career in commercial law, with the initial objective of gaining an undergraduate degree in commerce. Based on the advice of an array of people, however, he decided to pursue chartered accountancy instead as it appeared to open up international opportunities and provide a better opportunity to cut across different industries.
“I thought that was sage advice at the time as I have always enjoyed travelling - and I am glad I followed it,” he says. “Ironically, I am now working at a law firm in tax advisory.”
During his first four years at Ernst & Young, his focus was on financial services and treasury operations, and after that he moved on to transaction tax advisory. He was seconded to Mumbai, India, as a manager for four months, where he was primarily involved in structuring inbound and outbound investments into African jurisdictions. “At the end of 2012, I moved to Webber Wentzel’s tax department, where I have had the opportunity to work on some of the biggest private equity deals in South Africa and where I was promoted to director,” he comments.
His advice: “Don’t seek to move too quickly into managerial positions. Ensure that you have mastered your technical expertise and gained valuable, in-depth technical experience first before getting into management.”
Education is also a great passion of his and has led to his involvement with Central Johannesburg College, a public TVET college with more than 10 000 students. This has provided him with the opportunity to work towards improving the level of education in South Africa. In 2014, Donald was elected vice-chairperson of Central Johannesburg College’s board and chairperson of the finance committee.
He and his wife Anne are parents to three teenage boys aged 14, 16 and 17 – Donald got involved with the St Nicolas Children’s Home near Sophiatown almost eight years ago and that, together with Anne’s idea to adopt, was the catalyst to the couple becoming parents.
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