Keeping the economic boat afloat: why South Africa needs female chartered accountants

In times of turmoil and uncertainty, expertise is indispensable. At the North-West University (NWU), potential is nurtured into expertise and moulded in a form that will serve to benefit the society that the NWU serves. Few fields of study fit this description better than chartered accountancy. In a country that faces unique challenges, chartered accountants (CAs) play a vital role in setting a course to prosperity. It is a field characterised by diversity and filled with opportunity, and there is no more passionate proponent of this course than Professor Heleen Janse van Vuuren, director of the School of Accounting Sciences at the NWU’s Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences.

“South Africa has a dire need for qualified accountants, and it is listed as a scarce skill by the government. CAs are experts in business activities such as business law, taxation, finance, management accounting and the strategic direction of the business. They are not confined to only being financial leaders, as more than a third of the CEOs of the top listed companies in South Africa are CAs,” says Janse van Vuuren.

This need for CAs is a scarcity the NWU is doing its best not only to address, but to alleviate.

“We pride ourselves on continuously performing among the best in the national exam of the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA), called the Initial Test of Competence (ITC). We are mostly ranked among the top three out of 23 accredited universities in South Africa, and we were joint first in the January 2022 ITC for first-time candidates. Our sustained success is proof that our chartered accountancy programme is of the highest quality. We also have a team of dedicated lecturers who are passionate about the profession, our students and our ability to make a difference in our country by delivering top-class, well-rounded CAs.” 

With August being Women’s Month, Janse van Vuuren feels the time is ideal to put the spotlight on the difference women can make as CAs. “I believe that women have unique skills such as flexibility, perseverance, the ability to multi-task and to be authentic leaders. Chartered accountancy, as a career choice, opens many doors to becoming global business leaders, and the unique characteristics of women make them more than capable of achieving a huge success as CAs. Female CAs should play a mentoring role to create awareness of the profession in order to increase the number of female CAs.”

According to Janse van Vuuren, CAs’ analytical and critical thinking abilities make them ideally suited to play a significant role in uplifting South Africa’s economy.  “CAs are equipped to analyse critical data, evaluate and mitigate risks and provide strategic direction to grow our economy, as growth is the only way to create jobs and alleviate poverty.”  

She also believes that CAs should use their knowledge and skills to strengthen confidence in our country's economy, as well as to help businesses to remain afloat and to remain sustainable.

“I have a passion for young people and the profession, and I believe the only way to make an impactful difference is through an excellent education. Chartered accountancy as a field of study takes perseverance, hard work and dedication, as it takes at least seven years to qualify. This profession shapes and moulds you into an individual who can think critically, and it teaches you to apply your knowledge to improve the world and therefore the lives of everybody in it.”

It is this dedicated approach that will have a lasting effect, because education is not an island for the one, but a patron for the many. 


Professor Heleen Janse van Vuuren

Submitted on Mon, 08/29/2022 - 09:07