Diversity and a love of learning is key to getting ahead in business

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There are tangible advantages to having a diverse background. Vusi Mpofu (46) has worked in Zimbabwe, Lesotho and South Africa, where he garnered experience as an auditor, accountant, treasurer and now as a banker. His parents, who were in the education and medical fields, instilled empathy in him and a passion for learning.

Mpofu completed his accountancy degree at the National University of Lesotho in 1997, then served his articles with KPMG. While fulfilling various roles with multi-national companies he completed a Diploma in Advanced Banking with the University of Johannesburg before graduating with an MBA from Wits in 2010. During this time he also completed executive development programmes with Duke University.

With multi-cultural education behind him, what inspired him to chase a profession in the financial sector? His answer is simple: while growing up he and his friends were inspired by the suits and briefcases of the Chartered Accountants in his area. This is what sparked his interest in the field, which he saw as the key to a good life. Today, Mpofu is proud to be a member of the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants’ Associate General Accountant [AGA(SA)] designation. 

When asked about the much-publicised challenges the accounting profession is currently experiencing, Mpofu opines that we all should remember that institutions are made up of individuals. “The one human fallacy I’ve seen is that we inherently think or assume that everyone comes with a cupful of integrity, and that’s not always the case.”

He says that organisations must accept this fact and work to combat weaknesses in their policies and procedures to protect their integrity and interests.

As a young accountant, his advice to the next generation of finance sector professionals is to invest in hard work. “If you are already employed somewhere, put in the extra hours: arrive an hour early and leave the office an hour later. It makes such a huge impact on your work output and development.

“Young people must also take care not to waste valuable time. Whether they are on school break or vacation, they must include study time. This will help with being ahead of the pack when schools reopen, making the education load easier.”

He also preaches personal advancement through the constant acquisition of more knowledge: “Such is the nature and demand of commerce and the rapid rate of change in all industries.” Is this the reason he has attained numerous degrees in varied sectors? “Yes. I’m qualified to work as an auditor, a tax specialist and a banker. It’s all about being able to pivot at any moment, which is a capability that the financial sector, and indeed many other industries, simply demand of all their professionals.”

It’s this passion for self-advancement that led Mpofu to his current role at Nedbank, where he is the Sector Lead: Mining & Chemicals within its Corporate and Investment Banking division.        

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