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 If there is one lesson that you take to heart as you embark on your career, let it be this: success doesn’t come easily, but if you are prepared to work at it, the result will be worth it. Of course, our individual journeys are all unique, as are our definitions of true success, so we will all reach our milestones at our own pace.

To show that success is, in fact, possible and at a young age – and to act as motivation for you on your own trip up the career ladder – Accountancy SA magazine hosts its annual 35-under-35 competition. It recognises the most outstanding young CAs (SA) in the country, all of whom are selected for not only their career achievements, but also for how they are choosing to improve the communities that they live and work in.

Siyabonga Gugu Nxiweni, more commonly referred to as Gugu, is one of these inspiring young leaders, and was one of the finalists in the 2014 35-under-35 competition. Gugu currently serves as the Executive Chairman of the Improvate Group in Port Elizabeth, but he earned his stripes doing his articles at KPMG.

Following the completion of his articles, Gugu took up the position as head of multi-sectoral HIV-focused NGO Emmanuel Haven, originally started by his mother. During his tenure, Emmanuel Haven was awarded a World Leadership Award in 2007 by the World Leadership Forum - which is just one of a slew of local, national and international awards that Gugu has won.

He was further named one of the Top 4 industry rising stars in South Africa by the Human Capital Institute Africa and one of the Top 40 under 40 professionals in Nelson Mandela Bay in 2012, as well as being awarded the SAICA Honours Tie in August 2013 and honoured as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in 2014 – a recognition of outstanding leadership and a commitment to improving the world they in.

One of Gugu’s passions lies in tutoring and working with students to drive transformation in the industry. He was involved with tutoring students before he even qualified as a CA (SA), and is actively involved with NMMU Thuthuka students, giving talks and offering advice on leadership. “I find motivation in making a tangible difference to the lives of others, being the best I can be and recognising the sacrifices made by my family and others to help me realise my dreams,” Gugu said on winning the Top 40 under 40 accolade

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