Brett Tromp CA(SA) CFO of Discovery Health: Advocates a deeper incorporation of Entrepreneurial Leadership Development in the CA(SA) training programme
The Future CFO Magazine Managing Editor –D. Valentine
Thank you for speaking to us Brett!
Thank you for the opportunity, and thank you for the great work you are doing, and your passion to drive finance professionals to become great business leaders!
At only 31, you became CFO of Discovery Health and by 39, CEO of another subsidiary –a feat many of our readers aspire to. Clearly, you have prepared yourself for Leadership beyond just finance –what has your journey been like?
I joined Discovery Holdings in 2003, serving in various roles, including providing support to the co-founder and Group Executive Director on strategic projects as well as also working in group Finance. In 2007, I was appointed to the CFO role, a role I still currently occupy; and more recently in 2015, I was appointed CEO of the Discovery Health Care Services subsidiary –so effectively today, I double as CFO of the largest Health Insurer in Africa and CEO of one of its subsidiaries! A dream come true for me.
Over these years, I have built up experience in treasury, due
Are you suggesting if you had a chance to return to varsity or redo your CA (SA) training programme, you will like to learn more about business and leadership
Certainly! I think the skill sets we learned on the programme from university right through, even till today, equips us to some degree but it does not provide all the critical skills necessary to become entrepreneurs or great business leaders: Such skills I would like to have been taught would have been debating, public speaking, persuasive communication, negotiations, stakeholder relations, dealing with pressure, conflict management and cross-cultural sensitivities –what I would call Emotional Intelligence or EQ. In fact, some of these are skills I was fortunate to learn from the University of Oxford Leadership Development Programme.
You cannot lead a business just by knowing the numbers, so if I had to go back to University, I would love to be taught what entrepreneurship is –how to identify and actualize business opportunities, strategy, how to overcome risk and adversity, how to make a sale, how to build a brand, get on with people, how to work in and motivate a team, how to submit to leadership, and how to lead; i.e. balance the formal training between the numbers and the EQ component of business and leadership development. I believe we need a far more encompassing skills approach in training young CAs as they move into business!
Except for the financial services sector where CA SAs find it easier to get past CFO to become CEO, it is difficult for CAs to become CEOs. I commend your achievement in this regard; but again, Discovery is in financial services. Are CA SA’s too risk averse? What is it in the Accounting training that makes it difficult to produce many really great entrepreneurs or CEO’s outside of financial services?
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