Ayanda Kanana, winner of the Public Service category award in 2017’s Top 35 under 35, is not one to be deterred by challenges and says that he doesn’t accept things as they are. Instead, he pushes himself to be better, challenge the status quo and by 26, had achieved his dream of becoming a CA(SA) – the first in the family, despite having to prove to his elders why it would be worth studying beyond a degree.
Once he completed his articles, Ayanda joined the Deloitte Learning Team, which provided him with the opportunity to influence the lives of trainees as a trainee manager. At the same time, he also become interested in the public sector.
To this end, in 2010 he became a member of the Municipal Owned Entities Audit Committees, formed in response to the Operation Clean Audit initiative driven by national government. Not only was this his chance to do work that would make a difference, it was also the start of his career in government. As such, he became passionate about finding out what was going wrong in local government and implementing solutions that would result in clean audits for governmental departments. “It was a huge task and I turned to the CA profession for help,” he recalls.
“I joined the SAICA programme that placed CAs(SA) in FET colleges in 2012. Soon after, I joined the City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality to strengthen corporate governance in the municipality group,” says Ayanda. He adds that this was when he realised the important role the private sector should be playing in terms of knowledge transfer to the public sector. He believed that by attracting skills from the private sector, the public landscape could be changed.
Ayanda joined the Group Governance Department as the director responsible for governance in the City’s municipal entities. Here he helped build the #JoburgCAs programme in the department to attract aspiring CAs(SA) to join the public service and help manage the budgets that would enable governmental departments to achieve their clean audits by 2014.
This year saw Ayanda being seconded to Metro Trading Company (SOC) Ltd as a managing executive to the broadband company. His current position is CEO of the largest fresh produce market in the country. It’s clear the City is confident in his ability to lead with sound governance principles.
“I believe that it is important for the country that we develop accountants who understand the nuances of state laws, policies and processes. In this world of social media and quick news, we run the risk of our future leaders being sideline critics rather than owners of the country’s success,” he maintains.
And while he admits he gave up the opportunity to become an audit partner in a private auditing firm, and that perhaps the job of a civil servant is somewhat less glamourous, Ayanda is very happy with his decision to serve the state.
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