Interview with Hylee Choto CA (SA): Head of Finance/Finance Manager
Today we speak Hylee Choto – a Chartered Accountant CA (SA) in the Africa market – about the African economy and we gain some insight from him about the Africa Finance Markets. We also find out from his how it is to work and study concurrently and the challenges he faces as a Zimbabwean national with South African permanent residency.
What industry do you work in and what skills do you have?
I work in the financial services sector. My skills include and are not limited to financial planning, financial modelling, capital raising, investment appraisals & deal structuring, financial statements preparation and review, interpretation & application of IFRS, US GAAP, & Sarbanes Oxley (SOX), working capital management, cash flow modelling, stakeholder engagement, staff management, cost rationalisation, tax planning, strategy formulation, business performance monitoring, contracts preparation & interpretation, budgets preparation, monitoring & projecting and designing & ensuring adherence to set procedures & policies.
What inspired you to get into the finance industry?
The financial services sector sets the tone for good performance of the organisations operating in an economy. The more developed the financial service sector, the more prosperous the companies operating in the economy are. My passion is to make the economy develop by ensuring that I give the best financial advice to companies and assist in the turnaround strategies through using of practical financial solutions.
Tell us about your experience and the qualifications you have obtained.
I am a qualified Chartered Accountant (CA) with more than 10 years of experience including 6 years post articles experience; 5 years at management level. I am currently an MBA student with Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS). My experience spans across the financial services, mining, manufacturing and telecommunications sectors hence with exposure to all those sectors and ultimately positioning myself in the financial services sector enables me to understand various sectors of the economy resulting in giving relevant advise to various clients and the business at large.
What salary can a Trainee Accountant expect to earn?
Between R120,000.00 and R150,000.00
What salary can a CA (SA) with about 10 years of experience expect to earn?
Between R1 200,000.00 and R2,200,000.00
What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
The industry is highly regulated and there is need to understand a lot of legislation affecting the African market which you have to take into account when devising strategies.
How do you manage to overcome these challenges?
I ensure that I understand most of the regulations through giving myself time to study them, I consult with legal and compliance teams and my subordinates and also I consult with other players in the Africa industry whom I network with.
What has been the highlight of your career?
The highlight of my career was when I had to enroll for the MBA program considering its pressures on time management. This had an impact on setting priorities between time I had to study for the MBA program, work, having family time and leisure. This came with financial and social constraints on my part and had to compromise on some aspect. I am glad that I managed to create a working routine but it was tough in the beginning. I guess this will not be my last highlight in my career.
What advice can you offer people who are considering working in the finance industry?
My advice is that there is nothing that beats career capital accumulation and putting your all in the things that you cherish most. You need to ensure work-life balance and develop yourself as you develop the organisations that we work for. We all need to embrace inclusive diversity culture in our lives and businesses.
What countries in Africa have you worked in?
I have worked in South Africa, Malawi and Zimbabwe.
Which country within Africa do you think will be the next “hot spot” for investment and why?
Its been just over a year since I have been in South Africa. I would like to pursue my career in South Africa and Namibia due their strong financial services sectors. The culture is easy for me to adopt. Considering that I have a family it would be ideal to raise my children in those countries due to good education systems.
Who is your role model and why?
My role model is Strive Masiyiwa (Founder and Chairman of Econet). He is a down to earth man who has worked himself up the ladder regardless of the challenges faced. Though he is considered to be rich, he gives back to the community through various charity organisations. He has a page on Facebook where he finds time weekly, to impart knowledge on various business issues which are relevant to various generations.
What motivates you to work this hard?
I believe in myself. I believe in change. I am motivated by success. I am motivated by the challenges that I face on a daily basis and that’s makes me a better person.
What is your outlook within your industry over the next 5 years?
Though I have a finance background I foresee myself being more involved in finance but to a greater extent in operations management and strategy formulation, assisting with driving the vision of dynamic and growing organisation.
We LOVE Africa! Tell me why do YOU believe in Africa?
I am a Son of Africa. I believe in its uniqueness to other continents. Africa has vast deposits of mineral resources which haven’t been exploited. Look at Zimbabwe for example, it has the Great Dyke which spans from Kariba to Beitbridge with a lot of platinum resources which haven’t been exploited due to low investment in the mining sector. Look at the diamond deposits in Botswana and Namibia, the Copper in Zambia and DR Congo, the platinum-rich area of Polokwane in South Africa among other PGMs that can be found underground. This gives hope and belief that should I work in the financial services or mining sectors on the African soil I am able to advance the progression of Africa!
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