The world of high finance is not the only option for accounting graduates. Teaching has its own rewards as CA(SA) and Top 35 Under 35 finalist, Elton Pullen (33) can attest.
Elton grew up in the Cape Town suburb of Belhar and matriculated at Settlers High School. His dream to become an accountant began while he was still at school. He went on to earn a BCom and BCom Honours in Accounting from the University of Western Cape and a Master’s in Financial Management from the University of Cape Town. After graduating he worked as an audit manager and a financial manager before deciding that lecturing was his passion
He returned to the University of the Western Cape where he is currently a senior lecturer teaching Management Accounting and Finance (MAF). Of all the accounting subjects, he believes MAF is the most crucial for business leaders as it teaches the fundamental principles for decision making… in any industry.
Elton is considered a true academic by his peers. As a lecturer, his heart is with his students, which is exactly where it should be. So much so, that he has been nominated as Teacher of the Year in the commerce faculty for four out of the five years he’s been working at UWC.
His love for teaching was inherited from his father who has been an educator for more than three decades. What he loves most about teaching is his ability to change his student’s futures, given that many of them are first generation university students. He lives for those ‘light bulb’ moments when students suddenly grasp a difficult concept. As a teacher, he reveals, you live for those moments.
Elton is passionate about developing black CAs. “There is still a significant shortage of CAs in South Africa,” he says. While he was a student there was a perception, he says, that CAs from the University of the Western Cape were not as good as those from UCT or Stellenbosch and he’s delighting in changing that mindset.
Elton was the first staff member in UWC’s accounting department to have been promoted from lecturer to senior lecturer in under three years, a notable achievement. He is also the deputy section head, which enables him to play a principle role in the transformation of the MAF discipline within the university’s accounting department.
His thesis, which was entitled “Factors that impact on performance in Advanced Management Accounting” was presented at the 2015 Southern African Accounting Association International Conference. As a result of this paper he’s been playing a crucial role as part of a SAICA task team formed to look into the performance of candidates in Management Accounting and Finance at ITC level.
A career as an accountant, he maintains, is an important one, particularly at a time when the world needs more accountability. However, accountability requires more transparency, and transparency, he insists, is at the heart of accounting.
He concedes that it’s not easy to become a CA – which is why it’s so important to know why you want this career. The going will get tough, he reveals, which is when you need your own ‘why’ to push you through.
His advice: stay humble, be a lifelong learner and always be willing to give back.
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