Responsible leaders need to be willing to base every action and decision on their values and principles to make a positive impact on society. This was the opinion of the judging panel who selected the Top 30 university students attending the 10th annual Student Leadership Summit (SLS) of the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA).
SAICA created the SLS to remind chartered accountancy students that leadership is determined not by your title or your technical expertise but rather by your ability to uphold your values, no matter the resistance you may face.
Students from around the country are invited to the SLS annually where they apply their minds to issues of national and professional importance. They network and meet thought leaders from the business sector and have the opportunity to think about how, as young professionals, they can use their skills to help solve these issues. Students are also invited to enter the SLS essay competition, which this year focused on topics such as the following:
• How to apply ethical standards in business and ensure that your leadership style does not inadvertently encourage others to act unethically.
• How to ensure transformation and independence within the chartered accountancy profession with specific mention to mandatory audit firm rotation.
• What responsibilities aspiring chartered accountants (CAs) (SA) have in terms of building better communities in their hometowns.
Lungelo Ngobese, a 21-year-old BAccounting Honours student from Richards Bay studying at Stellenbosch University clinched the winning spot for his insightful and solution-driven essay detailing the contributions that CAs must make to improve the communities from which they come. His essay also provided CAs with a more structured and practical approach to help numerous rural communities, also suggesting that teamwork by CAs within similar communities could speed up the effectiveness and longevity of initiatives to improve the communities from which they come. Ashleigh Langton from the University of Johannesburg took the second spot, and Asanda Mhluzi from the University of Cape Town came in third.
According to Ngobese, winning the SLS essay competition is still surreal. He had been applying to SLS since his first year and made the Top 30 only in his third year. “I am still very excited and honoured. The support I have received has been extremely humbling and I didn't expect it to blow up as much as it did. I am so grateful for the opportunities that came with it, having met 29 other brilliant minds from all over South Africa and being challenged about my views on leadership and the realities of the socio-economic issues affecting the country," says Ngobese.
Teboho Moephudi, project director for SAICA's university projects, including the SLS, said that the quality of the entries for the 2018 SLS essay competition was of a very high standard; however, when it came to the winner, the judges' pick was unanimous. “Lungelo's thought leadership piece was so solution driven and well thought out, the judges knew they had found the winner upon reading his essay," says Moephudi.
Ngobese plans to travel a bit while completing his articles and hopes to foster mentor-mentee relationships with other students and those who have found success after graduating. “I believe mentorship is a great way of keeping people accountable for plans that are larger than life. Being committed to giving it your best is important, as well as trying to do the small things extremely well, even when no one is looking."
SAICA, South Africa's pre-eminent accountancy body, is widely recognised as one of the world's leading accounting institutes. The Institute provides a wide range of support services to more than 46 000 members and associates who are CAs. It also supports associate general accountants and accounting technicians who hold positions as chief executive officers, managing directors, board directors, business owners, chief financial officers, auditors and leaders in every sphere of commerce and industry, and who play a significant role in the nation's highly dynamic business sector and economic development.
Photo: Rozanne Engel