Chartered Accountant Graduates with Masters Degree

Chartered Accountant Graduates with Masters Degree
UKZN academic Ms Navitha Singh Sewpersardh pictured with Mr Fanle Sibisi, President of UKZN Convocation.

Chartered Accountant and UKZN’s Financial Accounting lecturer Ms Navitha Singh Sewpersadh has graduated with a Master of Commerce degree.

Singh Sewpersadh’s dissertation titled: An Investigation into Financial Distress and Corporate Governance in JSE-Listed Companies, was supervised by School of Accounting, Economics and Finance academic Dr Phocenah Nyatanga.

Singh Sewpersadh attributes a lot of her success to her father who, she says, instilled passion and a profound respect for education in her which inspired her to pursue chartered accountancy as a career.

‘I worked full time after matriculating to fund my part-time studies and for a while I thought I would never achieve my CA (SA) designation. It was thus very fulfilling when I did become a Chartered Accountant and worked at the JSE- listed Mondi Ltd.’

Her research topic stemmed from her noticing that many financially distressed businesses often retrenched workers which she believes is not a sustainable solution. Her investigations sought to establish whether there was any association between corporate governance practices and financial distress in companies.

Singh Sewpersadh’s quest to contribute to knowledge generation in the field of accountancy was another reason she enrolled for a full research Masters programme. ‘There is a growing need for accountancy research due to the vital information it contributes to industry and other academics. This qualification allows me to conduct better research into the pressing issues surrounding the industry.’

The lack of research in the area of accounting became evident when she was collecting data which proved to be time-consuming. ‘There were many research-related challenges in pursuing my masters such as data collection which was an extremely labour intensive exercise since there is no research database with corporate governance practices available in a pliable format,’ she said.

She says doing postgraduate studies while holding a full-time job and being a mother of three children was tough but personal sacrifices, family support and good time management skills made it possible for her to complete her studies. ‘I am very grateful to my mom, my husband and my mother-in-law for their continual support.’

‘I am also exceptionally grateful to my supervisor, Dr Nyatanga, for her guidance and mentoring.’

Words: Hazel Langa

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Love for Commerce Earns Graduate a Cum Laude Pass

Love for Commerce Earns Graduate a <em>Cum Laude</em> Pass
Bachelor of Commerce graduate Ms Nadia Bana obtained her degree cum laude.

Choosing to pursue a commerce degree was a no-brainer for Ms Nadia Bana.  The Westville resident who hails from a family with a strong commerce background, obtained a cum laude pass in Bachelor of Commerce at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. 

Bana’s family have been in the retail sector for many years. Her father and siblings completed degrees in commerce. 

Her passion especially for economics and finance enabled her to obtain a cum laude pass. ‘It seemed like a natural and intuitive choice. When I got further in my degree I fell in love with the field of economics and its concepts and model-nature was such an appealing way of thinking and understanding our world as well as finance for its practicality and usability in everyday life.’ 

She encourages young people to consider commerce as an area of study as she believes it not only develops ones thinking but it is very practical and usable. She said: ‘There is a variety of options one could go to in the commerce field such as management consulting, financial services, asset management or even entrepreneurship.’ 

Bana’s academic achievement was celebrated by all in her family, she said: ‘My family is very proud of me. A big part of my success is attributed to them, as they have been there for every small win as well as all the failures. They believed in me, when I didn't believe in myself.’ 

A solid foundation she received from academics in the School of Accounting, Economics and Finance has encouraged her to continue with her academic journey. She is currently studying towards an honours degree in finance. 

Words: Hazel Langa

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Never Give Up, Encourages BCom Honours Cum Laude Graduate

Never Give Up, Encourages BCom Honours <em>Cum Laude</em> Graduate
Ms Linet Kimathi graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce Honours in Economics.

Three years into her Chemical Engineering degree, Ms Linet Kimathi, knew she had made the wrong career choice. Believing in never giving up, she found herself in the field of commerce.  She graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Commerce Honours in Economics at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in April. 

‘I started off as a chemical engineering student, but three years in, I decided that it wasn't a suitable career path for me. It was very difficult. I wasn’t enjoying the degree and I felt like I was struggling through my academics for a future that I wasn’t even sure I wanted to be in the first place. 

‘So, after much difficulty, I made the decision to quit engineering. I didn’t know what I wanted to do after but I eventually found myself in the commerce department at UKZN in 2014, starting my first year all over again,’ said the Mandela Rhodes scholar. 

Armed with her Honours degree, Kimathi hopes to positively impact the lives of marginalised people, especially those in rural areas. She hopes to encourage people to think bigger, become change agents and problem solvers. 

‘A lot of people think economics is about finance and profit margins of companies. While that is a substantial part of the field, there is also a huge part of economics that deals with understanding the things that impact human beings and society and how that is intertwined with the economy. 

‘Issues like unemployment, literacy rates, income inequalities, sustainable development and even the natural environment are studied under development economics and other branches of economics. It can help us better understand the systems that people face, and how those systems either help them prosper or create challenges for them,’ she said. 

While her Honours year was challenging, it was a “worthwhile experience” said Kimathi. Her time management skills improved and she learned how to be productive with a limited amount of time. 

‘My Honours qualification helped me understand the aspects that affect the economy, how government policy and resource allocation can be used to promote economic growth, and how socio-economic issues can affect the economy and vice versa. I can now apply these things to the environmental context and become the best environmental economist that I can be.’ 

Kimathi is currently studying towards a master of science in Environment Economics at the University of Pretoria focusing on water and society. She has encouraged other students never to let failure discourage them, but push them to work even harder. 

‘Sometimes, we tend to think that failure is the end of the world and that it has no place in our lives. Yet, we learn the most important lessons when we fail and we get the opportunity to work towards success again. 

‘I would like to encourage people to not be afraid to fail, to be honest with themselves and ask themselves tough questions in order to make tough decisions. I would also like to encourage people to not be afraid of starting over and owning their truths.’


Words: Xoliswa Zulu

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“Rocky Road” Makes Success Sweeter for Masters Graduate

“Rocky Road” Makes Success Sweeter for Masters Graduate
Ms Shana Axcell overcame hurdles to graduate with a masters degree during the College of Law and Management Studies Graduation ceremony.

Immigrating to England, job hunting and a high-risk pregnancy were hurdles masters graduate Ms Shana Axcell had to contend with during her studies. 

‘We moved to England in January last year so my husband could take up a job offer which posed its own challenges and halfway through my studies I fell pregnant with my precious son, Dale, and was listed as being a high-risk pregnancy because of heart arrhythmia,’ said Axcell. 

‘However, with the support of my amazing husband, Mike, as well as my supervisor at UKZN, Professor Debbie Vigar, I was able to complete my studies in 18 months. The struggles have proved to be all worthwhile in the end!’ 

Axcell’s research titled: Exploring the Attitudes and Behaviour of Generation Z Students Towards Branded Mobile Applications, explored the consumer behaviour traits of Generation Z people (those born after 1994) towards brands of today. 

‘I noticed how “addicted” Generation Z folk were to their smartphones and wanted to gather more insight into their behaviour around mobile apps. Big brands are all introducing mobile apps to engage future consumers and my research aimed to gather an in-depth knowledge in this market in South Africa,’ explained Axcell. 

She says the findings of the research showed that the South African student sample enjoyed mobile apps for their convenience but disliked them for their annoying adverts. 

‘The top three most popular branded mobile apps in the sample were WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook. Family was the biggest social influence for the sample downloading mobile apps. Privacy was raised as an issue of branded mobile applications by many of the participants. This research provides guidelines to developers on how to better build an app most suitable for young South Africans,’ said Axcell. 

The very proud new mom, who also enjoys singing opera, currently lectures marketing at the University Campus of Football Business at Wembley Stadium in England. She was glad to be back in Durban to celebrate her graduation. 

‘Right now my focus is being the best mom to my son and the best wife to my husband. I will be back at UKZN to lecture in September and I am very excited at the thought of returning to be with my wonderful students. My aim is to start my PhD in the next two years and publish my research results in international journals,’ said Axcell. 

Words: Thandiwe Jumo

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Doctoral Graduate Now Aims to Focus on Her Key Research Interests

Doctoral Graduate Now Aims to Focus on Her Key Research Interests
Dr Kerry McCullough surrounded by her family, from left, Ms Jes Green (sister), Mr Peter Green (father), Ms Gail Green (mother) and Mr Craig McCullough (husband).

Finance lecturer and PhD graduate Dr Kerry McCullough is looking forward to being able to focus on her key research interests now that her doctorate is complete. 

McCullough’s doctoral research titled: Information Transmission on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE), explores information transmission in the context of price discovery and risk transference between FTSE/JSE Top40 securities traded on the JSE. The study was supervised by Professor M Murray and Mr Barry Strydom. 

‘The FTSE/JSE Top40 market for the index, futures and exchange-traded fund were considered using both daily and high-frequency trade data,’ said McCullough. ‘I found that the Top40 market was impacted by the behaviour of  international equities and gold returns, and that more stable economic periods in South Africa attracted capital inflow to our equity market.’ 

McCullough is keen to further explore capital markets and financial instruments and the factors that constitute information important to specific securities. 

‘In education, I have done some research considering active learning techniques as well as encouraging meaningful research in group-based environments.  I would like to expand on my education-based research now that my finance-based PhD is done. Having said that, I also look forward to developing the final paper of my PhD where I used a latent variable modelling approach to determine which types of information are relatively more important than others to certain assets,’ said McCullough.

Although McCullough’s PhD is complete, she is grateful that she not only had the support of her husband, Craig, but also that of various writing and PhD cohorts where she could share her experiences with other candidates. 

‘The absolute highlight of my PhD and UKZN experience has been the opportunity to participate in writing events and cohorts. I am beyond grateful to all the colleagues that took part in these which helped motivate me to keep going. My husband and I celebrate nine years of marriage the same week as graduation, and as there is no way that I could have done this PhD without his support, it is lovely to have both celebrations in the same week,’ she said. 

Words: Thandiwe Jumo 

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BCom Graduate Dedicates Distinction to his Mom and Dad

BCom Graduate Dedicates Distinction to his Mom and Dad
BCom Accounting summa cum laude graduate, Mr Dean Adams.

Bachelor of Commerce graduate Mr Dean Adams says being awarded his degree summa cum laude is payback in part for his parents who supported him and his twin brother, Dale, who is in his last year of a Law degree through thick and thin. 

Adams, who aims to become a Chartered Accountant, said his mother, Evet being in housekeeping and his father, Moses, a small business owner, means that finances are tight. 

However, the burden of putting two children through university at the same time was made lighter when Adams was awarded a scholarship. 

Adams was ranked among the top five UKZN undergraduates proceeding from the first year to second-year study in 2016 which earned him the Malegapuru William Makgoba Scholarship and a bursary from Nedbank. 

‘I was the first one in my family to get accepted into a university and that was a life-changing moment for me,’ said Adams. ‘One of the major challenges was finding the money to pay my fees because my parents were not in a position to foot the entire bill,’ said Adams. 

‘I was fortunate to be awarded the scholarship and the bursary as it lessened the financial burden on my parents whose love and support have shaped me since my childhood. I will now ensure we all have better lives,’ he added.  

Currently pursuing a Postgraduate Diploma in Accounting, Adams looks forward to serving his articles at Deloitte and ultimately earning the letters CA (SA) behind his name. 

‘I enjoy applying myself in a way that can solve challenges and problems - this is what led me to pursue Chartered Accountancy. Business affects everybody, in either a positive or negative way, and I would like to make an impact on people’s lives in a positive way. Becoming a Chartered Accountant will give me the opportunity to do that,’ he said. 

Words: Thandiwe Jumo

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Cum Laude Graduate on the Path Towards Becoming a Chartered Accountant

<em>Cum Laude</em> Graduate on the Path Towards Becoming a Chartered Accountant
Ms Serena Gobindlall being awarded a BCom Accounting degree cum laude.

Bachelor of Commerce in Accounting cum laude graduate Ms Serena Gobindlall is on the path to becoming a Chartered Accountant (CA).

Gobindlall says she got a taste of what lies ahead in the career when she received an award in the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) Students Awards ceremony, an annual awards ceremony held in partnership with the UKZN School of Accounting, Economics and Finance in celebration of its top achievers during her second year.

‘Commerce is such a broad field and there are so many prospects and opportunities available,’ said Gobindlall. ‘The career has added attraction because chartered accountants are in demand in South Africa and the CA qualification is the ultimate position as it encompasses all the skills required in the business world.’ 

A top achiever who was Dux in her matric year at Maritzburg Muslim School for Girls, says she is also interested in entrepreneurship. 

‘I have been drawn to the business world since I did a market day project at high school where we were required to show entrepreneurial skills and perform all the functions of a business. The highlight was the actual market day and seeing one’s plans unfold and succeed. That really piqued my interest and I hope to one day start my own business,’ she said. 

Words: Thandiwe Jumo

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PhD Journey Similar to Running the Comrades Marathon – Graduate

PhD Journey Similar to Running the Comrades Marathon – Graduate
Dr Cliford Madondo being hooded by Mr Fanle Sibisi.

Graduate and UKZN staff member Dr Cliford Madondo says studying for a doctorate is similar to running the Comrades Marathon. 

Madondo could not contain his excitement after being capped at the Law and Management Studies Graduation ceremony in Pietermaritzburg. 

With two Masters degrees from UKZN, a Bookkeeping Certificate and a Diploma in Management Accounting and Finance to his name, he said his PhD journey had its challenges and it was like running the Comrades Marathon. 

‘In 2001, I walked the Comrades distance in a sponsored event. Since then, I can approximate the feeling of running the Marathon. I learned to set my own pace, believing that each step took me closer to the finishing line,’ said Madondo. 

He paid tribute to his wife, Ms Palesa Leuta, who is a Lecturer: Accelerated Academic Developmental Programme, in the Discipline of Geological Science, who kept encouraging him to register. Leuta is currently pursuing her doctoral studies in GeoChemistry at UKZN. 

‘I would test my ideas and thinking processes on her.  She was always available to assist me,’ said Madondo. 

He thanked his supervisor Professor Maxwell Phiri for his pastoral-care approach. ‘With my supervisor, each time we met I would leave his office feeling “yes, I can do this”.’ 

Born in Zimbabwe, Madondo’s research was titled: An Exploratory Study of the Imperatives for Endogenous Small and Medium Entrepreneurship in Mvuma, Zimbabwe. The work focused on endogenous small and medium entrepreneurship undertakings that, in practice, combine economic reward responsiveness and entrepreneurial propensities. 

‘My findings suggest that in Mvuma small and medium entrepreneurs are capitalising on alternative patterns of business processes such as self-reliance and free-riding the systems, relationship strength and management, come-forward competencies, cutting-overheads and flex management approaches,’ he explained. 

Madondo said his research initiates a new analytical compass to practical questions about managing endogenously occurring small and medium entrepreneurship activities for purposes of SME policy development in Zimbabwe. 

He said his journey to complete his degree came with sacrifices, especially his family time. ‘I had to be disciplined with my time management and reduction of leisure networks,’ he said. 

Madondo is currently working on building his academic career and his postdoctoral studies. ‘As an academic, I am interested in research-teaching methods, educational entrepreneurship, small business development, and responsible and sustainable management practices in Africa. 

‘As an entrepreneur and practitioner, I am interested and I am investing energy into African innovations, organisational development and leadership, entrepreneurship skills development, and corporate social responsibility skills development for small and medium businesses,’ said Madondo. 

Words: Sithembile Shabangu

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Masters Degree a Step in the Right Direction for Academic

Masters Degree a Step in the Right Direction for Academic
Mr Tarish Jagwanth with his supervisor Dr Rajen Rajaram.

UKZN academic Mr Tarish Jagwanth says graduating with a Master of Commerce in Accounting degree is a step in the right direction as his goal is a long career in academia. 

Jagwanth’s research topic, Financial Accounting as a Determinant of Success in Financial Management (ManFin) and Auditing at UKZN, focussed on the design of the accounting curriculum at the University, specifically whether Financial Accounting serves as an effective prerequisite for Auditing and ManFin.

Expanding on his reasons for this research, Jagwanth said he had been passionate about the topic throughout the duration of his study. 

‘Being a previous accounting student at UKZN, I am aware of the rigorous nature of the accounting programme.  Therefore I felt if my study findings contributed to new knowledge in the field, which could aid in possible curriculum redesign for the better in the future, this would assist in improving student throughput at the University, which is our goal as tertiary accounting educators.’ 

Jagwanth of Pietermaritzburg said his study was unique as ‘students’ perceptions of the accounting programme comprised a large portion of the findings, as they were in the best position to answer questions regarding the courses having been there themselves’. 

He said his studies were challenging as he had to manage his time effectively and balance work and studies. ‘I found that forming a writing cohort with other academics within the discipline really helped my progress. We would study together in the evenings and on weekends and invest time in our research until late in the night on almost every day of the week. This was extremely tiring after a full day's work but proved to be worth it in the end as it helped me to finish in nine months.’ 

Jagwanth thanked his family and also his supervisor Dr Raj Rajaram for their constant support throughout the duration of his studies. 

Jagwanth has registered for his PhD in which he hopes to explore an additional avenue of research following on from where he left off in his masters degree. 

Words: Sithembile Shabangu

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PhD Study on Drain of Doctors from Public Health into Private Sector

PhD Study on Drain of Doctors from Public Health into Private Sector
Human Resources Management Specialist, Dr Joyce Ayeni.

The movement of medical doctors from the public to the private health sector is a major challenge facing South Africa as it leaves many citizens without quality health care.

This is what prompted UKZN Human Resources Management Specialist Dr Joyce Ayeni to embark on research investigating the root causes of the situation and possible solutions for it.

Ayeni received a Doctor of Philosophy degree for her thesis titled: Migration of Medical Doctors from the Public to the Private sector: A Case Study of Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Hospital and Life Healthcare Hospital Group, Durban.

She worked with School of Management, IT and Governance academic Professor Sanjana Brijball Paramasur.

Ayeni’s study revealed that the public health’s employee relations policy was the main reason for the migration, also identifying the moratorium on employment identified as another cause.

Her research also identified monetary and non-monetary rewards as factors exacerbating the problem together with the general dissatisfaction of medical doctors in the public health sector.

Ayeni recommended various retention strategies for the public health sector to consider including strengthening communication and the involvement of employees in decision-making procedures, quick resolution of labour disputes, embracing a total reward approach, talent management planning, succession planning, and clear alignment of personal values with organisational values and the lifting of the moratorium on employment.

Ayeni said the shortage of medical doctors in the public health care sector impacted on her during the data collection stages of her research as doctors were not always readily available to contribute to her study due to a heavy workload and long hours.

After receiving her doctorate, Ayeni said: ‘I am elated but at the same time humbled by the opportunity to contribute to the improvement of something as significant as human resources for health.’

Ayeni has already shared her research with other scholars through presentations at the International Conference on Business, Economics, Management and Marketing at Oxford University in England as well as at the 4th Academic International Conference on Interdisciplinary Legal Studies at Harvard University, United States.

Ayeni intends doing further research on human resources in the health sector as well as other sectors of the economy as the importance of human capital to the growth of the economy is vital.

She said her husband Dr Olasunkanmi Ayeni, a medical doctor by profession, and their two children Moyinoluwa and Rereloluwa are delighted with her achievement.

Words: Hazel Langa

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