NDAPANDULA Tshitayi (NT) is a celebrated Chartered Accountant (CA), who became the first Namibian black woman to be a Partner of Grant Thornton – Neuhaus; a member firm of the sixth largest accounting and advisory organisation in the world – Grant Thornton International. But her road to becoming one of the most admired accountants in the country has not been an easy feat. In fact, Ndapandula narrated that as an accountant student at the University of South Africa (Unisa), she failed her Certificate Theory of Accountancy. However, she did not give up on her dreams of becoming a CA, pushing herself to become just that. Her story is one that proves that no matter how hard you fall, your rise is all that matters to get you where you want to be. MN: Briefly tell us about yourself and background.
NT: My name is Ndapandula Tshitayi. I am a first child of seven (three girls and three boys). I have five nieces, a nephew, four spiritual daughters, two guardian sons and two special kids. I am currently based in Ongwediva but consistently in Windhoek. I am from a very loving, supporting, loud and fun family.
MN: Tell us about your education and career path.
NT: School for me was a walk in the park. I could get an A without studying and little did I think that this jolly ride will come to an end. I remember failing my Grade 6 when I changed schools from Hashiyana Combined School to International Primary School with only a pass in Mathematics (88 percent). I loved numbers to bits. At this stage I however did not know anything about any form of career in accounting, it was just an interesting subject with lots of numbers. During high school at Concordia College, accounting and mathematics continued to be my best subjects until I joined UNISA. In 2003, I joined Grant Thornton Neuhaus as an Audit Clerk. I was the first black girl at the firm. I was given the best news that the firm will also be paying for my studies. Unisa turned out to be my worst nightmare. I failed my Certificate Theory of Accountancy (CTA/ Honors degree) beyond human imagination. I got four percent in my auditing tests and the highest was accounting with 14 percent. I knew at the bottom of my heart that I was cut out to be a CA. During my second attempt of CTA, I applied to Rhodes University. I got accepted and was granted unpaid leave by the firm for two years. The Managing Partner now, then my trainer Mr. Tom Newton, motivated me beyond boss employee- relationship, his words of encouragement continues to echo in mind. I passed my first year at Rhodes with flying colors but I did not obtain the minimum required marks in my final year. I was so devastated by the news so much so that Mr Newton sent me home to sleep off my unsatisfactory results. I still remember how everyone feared that I was going to give up but to everybody’s surprise, I registered with Unisa once again. I was quite positive that this time around I would pass. I can do it all over again and not change a thing. My CTA years were years of humiliation but this did not make me waver. It was during those years that I revived my faith. I knew that I could not do it alone and that I had to lean on My God, who promised me prosperity and to meet all my needs. During this time my need was to be a CA and he fulfilled it when I least expected it. In 2010, my dream finally came to a reality when I qualified as a CA. I was super excited and to this very day I continue to praise God for this prestige honor. This is a career that has no limit.
MN: What triggered your interest in accounting?
NT: My love for numbers triggered my interest in accounting. My accounting teachers were quite passionate about accounting and their passion made me hungry for more. I wanted to be a Medical Doctor as a little girl but it turned out I hated science subjects. This however changed in Grade 10, when my Mathematics used to tell me about her CA husband. She planted the seed which I never turned away from nursing to this very day.
MN: Tell us about your partnership with Grant Thornton and what your duties entail.
NT: On 2 December 2016, the official announcement of my partnership was made to the entire firm during our end of year function. I became the first black female partner at Grant Thornton Neuhaus on the 1 March 2017. My functions ranges from assurance and non-assurance services, drafting of financial statements, team management, training, sourcing of clients, consulting, finance advisory and has branched the firm out to the northern regions.
MN: What key contribution to the organisation are you most proud of?
NT: The successful of opening our northern branch into an envi ronment that is heavily flooded by fly by nights who pose as Ac count ing Officers and Auditors. An environment that is not used to pay professional fees has been my challenge over the past three years.
MN: What advise do you have for little girls, youth keen on pursuing a career in accounting?
NT: At this occasion, I would like to dedicate this achievement to so many young women in Namibia, who have lost hope in themselves. May this achievement rejuvenate your dreams in becoming productive citizens of this beautiful country. May this achievement be a reminder that your background should never limit your inherent desire to be the best in your life. I know you have all heard how difficult this course can be, but if you want it whole heartedly nothing can stop you. You just have to want it, pursue it and believe that nothing is impossible. Once again, let me seize this unique opportunity to thank the Confidente newspaper for giving me the space. Thank you for the warm recognition and for allowing me to motivate future young women to break the barrier of the impossibility. I recognize and admit that I have reached the top of the mountain just to realize that there are many more mountains to climb ahead of me. As the Nelson Mandela once said “We are only resting for a while for the journey will be long”.
MN: What don’t people know about you?
NT: People believe I am so career driven and I don’t have time for what makes life worth living. Here it is my people, I love “love and family”. I get goose bumps when someone starts telling me about their love story and I wish I could meet people like me every day so that I can share my love story.
MN: Just what do you do for a little fun?
NT: Dance, more dancing and giggling non-stop with my loved ones.
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