DEON FREDERICKS - CFO of Telkom SA, compares the impact of CA (SA), CIMA and Honours qualifications on his career (Interview)

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By CharterQuest, 04 November 2019

In every edition, we feature eminently qualified and successful CFOs, people with a career track record worthy of emulation –yet with remarkable commitment to grooming future financially qualified business leaders, to share with our readers, today –The Future CFOs, the lessons and tips -to inspire their own journey! This time, our Managing Editor –D. Valentine Nti, had the privilege of hosting Deon Fredericks of Telkom SA, and Chief Judge of The CFO Global Case Study Competition 2016. 

Thank you for speaking to us Deon. 

The pleasure is mine!

You are an Honours graduate in Business Management, a Chartered Accountant South Africa and a Chartered Management Accountant qualified with CIMA - It doesn't get any better! You could have just done one qualification - Why was it critical to do all 3? 

The first and the key one was the CA (SA). In the financial environment within Telkom and in South Africa, you are expected to be CA (SA) especially to get to FD or CFO position – that prepares you in terms of financial reporting standards, making sure you can manage the company within that framework. For me, what was important also was the practical side, if you look at CIMA, the focus is on strategic management. CIMA's curriculum and approach exposes you internationally. Ultimately, the honours in Business Management is all about doing business; one can have all the qualifications but if you can’t apply it, it counts for nothing!

Interesting! Can you elaborate a bit more on the distinction between the CA(SA) and CIMA?

CIMA is very focused on management accounting and the day-to-day operations, how to manage your costs and how you strategically put the whole business together. The CA (SA) is very much on the financial reporting side, it will address tax for example and auditing so it has a lot to do with your control environment; it gives you some insight in terms of business but ultimately, it’s good to have both because they overlap whilst addressing each other’s weaknesses. 

I guess our readers will like to know: which is the more challenging one/s to obtain?

Look if you take the CIMA and CA(SA), I think it’s more challenging than doing an Honours. With the CA(SA), you need to be well prepared as you know after five times, if you haven’t made it, you have to go back and do your honours again but I would say each has its own unique challenges. 

How did you obtain these qualifications: did you study fulltime or part-time?

I did part-time; if you are not dedicated, don’t even try studying part-time because you will have certain work pressures and that will always come first. If I could do something over again, I would probably try and finish my studies first and then go into business. 

Why do employers always expect the part-time student to put work first? 

From an employers’ perspective, there is only one customer, you can’t tell the client “I am sorry my employees are studying; there is no time to produce a product or provide a service.” Ultimately, you have to find that balance and also you have to study from the first day -not in the last month before exams -it doesn’t work that way! 

Are we as a country doing enough to produce financially-qualified business leaders? 

Computers are taking over the numbers, so in business, it’s much more about value adding –the CFO being a strategic partner to the CEO. Similarly, accountants need to be business partners for their respective areas because it’s always about what’s behind the numbers and how to  manage that better. I think this is where the development of future leaders will add the most value!

What key competencies or mindset do our readers need to get to where you are? 

To continue reading this interview, subscribe to the FREE February issue of The Future CFO Magazine