A young chartered accountant’s journey from Lephalale to the skyscrapers of New York
When growing up in Lephalale, Tshidiso Maduwa could never quite explain why he filled his school books with pictures of houses and buildings. Today, it all makes sense as this 26-year-old Chartered Accountant (CA[SA]) conquers the real estate market of New York.
As a young boy living in rural Limpopo with his grandmother, Maduwa spent his time staring at tree tops rather than towering skyscrapers, yet he set his sights on the top floor of these high-rise buildings when he decided he was going to be the first person in his family to get a formal degree.
‘My gran did a great job at raising me,’ says Maduwa. ‘But it was only when I moved to Pretoria to start high school that my dream of going to varsity really started to seem possible.’ It was also here, Maduwa says, that he ‘slowly fell in love with accounting thanks to an incredible teacher who made being in her class fun. The more I began investigating the career options this subject could lead me to, the more I knew I wanted to become a CA(SA).’
Having matriculated with good marks, Maduwa says he could not wait to start his studies at the University of Pretoria. Yet as he struggled to make ends meet during his first year, Maduwa worried that his dream would slip away from him. Nevertheless, this determined young man was not about to let go of his CA(SA) aspirations without a fight. So, he investigated solutions that would help him stay at university.
He found the answer, in the Thuthuka Bursary Fund (TBF) – an innovative programme of the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) that is transforming the accounting profession by opening the doors of opportunity to deserving black and coloured students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Maduwa describes the TBF as a blessing. ‘Thanks to Thuthuka, I never had to stress about food, accommodation or books. It was all taken care of. This removed a lot of the pressure on me. In fact, all I had to do to show my appreciation was to do well.’
This is exactly what he did. After completing his tertiary studies first at the University of Pretoria and then the University of Johannesburg, Maduwa was placed at Grant Thornton for his three-year training contract. It was here that he really started to thrive. Despite the repetitive work that comes with articles, Maduwa says the experience helped him gain the invaluable experience that eventually led him to the opportunity to go on secondment in Kansas City in America.
Those first four months of 2015 were a whirlwind of experiences. ‘From learning about different cultures to working long hours, I really learnt a lot about myself as I discovered how to adapt constantly. It also cemented in me the belief that I was going to make my way to the USA at some point in my career,’ Maduwa remembers.
Yet even then, he never dreamed he would be going back there quite as quickly as he did or that he would find himself working as the Senior Audit Associate of a diversified real estate department of PricewaterhouseCoopers, serving Square Mile Capital Management LLC as his main client in New York City. Maduwa is thriving in the position he took on in October last year. Every day he helps his clients to prepare financial records and reports for a variety of real estate transactions, including property sales, rentals, leases and mezzanine loan originations. The total fair value of the funds under management is around $453 million.
However, Maduwa is not content with merely helping his clients run the streets of New York: he runs them in a different way too.
A keen long-distance athlete and fitness fanatic, Maduwa can be spotted tearing up the tar these days as he prepares for the 2016 New York Marathon. When asked whether he is worried if he will finish or not, he laughs confidently. And who could blame him? After completing the seven-year marathon process it takes to qualify as a CA(SA), a 42.2km race should be easy.
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