How this mother of 3 self funded her studies, worked full time & at 35 qualified as a CA(SA)
- Hi, I am Asanda Ngcikiza, a Chartered Accountant from South Africa.
- I was born in a small town in Qumbu, Eastern Cape and it took me 10 long years with several detours in between to qualify as a CA(SA)!
- Here is my story of how I predominantly self-funded my studies and eventually becoming a CA at the age of 35 while juggling a full-time job and three kids as a single mother.
Passion for accounting led me to my career as a CA
When I was in high school, I was quite an average child but, I really enjoyed accounting out of all the subjects.
My mother noticed my love for accounting and advised me to study for a B.Com Accounting degree and go the CA(SA) route and that is what I exactly did.
I registered at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University and started my journey to become a Chartered Accountant.
In hindsight, I am very thankful to my mother who encouraged me to perform at my optimum and reach for the stars.
To become a Chartered Accountant from SAICA one needs:
- To have a Bachelors degree in Accounting or equivalent
- Honours Post Graduation qualification (CTA 1, CTA2)
- 3 years articles (this depends whether it is a part-time study or full time so it can vary from 3-5 years)
- Give two written board exams (ITC and APC)
Fell pregnant and converted from full time to part-time studies
When I started university, things took a turn for the worse. I was not committed to my studies, like in school. I would skip class during winter and not study every day like a diligent student.
To make things more complicated, I fell pregnant in my final year (I was only 21!). As you guessed, I didn’t do well that year and had to write supplementary exams for all my final year modules! However, I could not write them as I gave birth to my son that same month of January 2007.
Since I was a young mom, it was all very overwhelming for me. So, I chose not to write the supplementary exams and focus on my journey as a new mother. I also focussed on finding a job since I needed to be financially sound.
Fortunately, I got a job at a financial services company as a Credit Analyst and started working the same month after my son was born.
Did I give up on the CA dream? Not at all. I didn’t let this difficult period stop me though, I continued my studies part-time.
This obviously meant my CA dream would take me longer to achieve as I would do one module at a time to avoid overwhelming myself. (I was also funding my studies, so registering for all modules was expensive.)
To add fuel to the fire, I soon had a second child in December 2007. Now I had to deal with two babies while juggling my career, studies, and family life.
Completely giving up on my CA Dream
Fast forward, a few years later while working full-time (with Nedbank as a Credit Manager), I managed to finish my accounting degree part-time. This was a great achievement for me!
By now I was a mother of two and I was starting to climb the corporate ladder but my CA dream was still alive.
I struggled with managing my time but I decided to do CTA (2010). Unfortunately, I only passed two out of four subjects. (I passed Auditing and Tax and failed Accounting and Management Accounting). This crushed my dreams of becoming a CA and it felt like it was never going to happen.
At that moment, I completely gave up on my CA dream and converted my CTA to Honours in Financial Accounting. This was in 2011.
Fortunately, despite failing my CTA, my career was taking off, and putting all my energy into my job (instead of CA) seemed like the right decision.
Fighting for my dreams when the odds were against me
“Do not give up on your dreams. Just do your best all the time and the universe will respond.”
In 2015, I gave birth to my third child! During my maternity leave, it dawned on me that I had given up on my CA dream. This haunted me as it felt like I had given up on myself.
Being the resilient woman that I am, I decided to try again and this time give it my best shot.
I had the option of applying for a Master's degree, but I felt a strong urge to continue fighting for my dream of becoming a CA.
In 2017, I registered with Unisa and completed a postgraduate diploma in accounting and proceeded to complete the advanced postgraduate diploma in 2018.
When I thought things couldn’t get any worse, my marriage went through a difficult time, leading to a divorce. During this time, I fell ill and was in and out of the hospital. At that point, I thought of giving up again, but a voice inside of me told me not to give up on my dream.
I started meditating in the evenings to clear my mind and kept a journal by my bedside, where I wrote down my goals. I would read these goals every evening as a reminder of the commitment I made to myself.
Juggling my three kids, a full-time job, and CA studies
Studying with three kids and a full-time job was not easy. I would wake up before everyone to study from 3 am to 6 am daily, then get the kids and myself ready for school and work.
Around 6 pm after work, I would dedicate time to them; helping with homework, making supper, and getting them ready for bedtime at 8 pm. Work was challenging at times as I would work after hours (8 pm till 11 pm) when needed to.
Time management became a key focus in my life, and I used my annual leave to supplement my study.
Eventually qualifying as a CA(SA) after giving up several times!
“If I can do it, you can do it too.”
Through all those hardships in 2018, I passed and proceeded to write SAICA Initial Technical Competence (ITC), Accounting Professional Training (APT), and SAICA Professional Competence (APC) Board Exam which I passed the first time.
I had never done articles in my career, however, based on my 13 years of banking experience in different roles in the financial service sector, I qualified for the SAICA regulation 25 exemption.
Finally, in 2020, I qualified as a Chartered Accountant at the age of 35...a dream come true.
A complete timeline of my eventful journey
My education was predominantly self-funded. I wanted to be a CA so much that I did not mind investing in my future.
I had to sacrifice a lot of luxuries as I believed my education was important.
My undergraduate degree was funded by my mother who sacrificed profusely to get me to where I am. I am grateful to have a mother like her.
2002: Age 18
Matriculated at Morning Star Educational Centre with a matric exemption
Studied at University of Port Elizabeth
2004 -2009: 24
Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University: BCom majoring in Accounting (Part-time as from 2007)
UNISA: Honours in Financial Accounting
UNISA: Advance Diploma in Accounting Science (CTA)
UNISA: Post Graduate Diploma in Applied Accounting Science
- SAICA Professional Competence (APC) Board Exam
- Accounting Professional Training (APT)
- SAICA Initial Technical Competence (ITC) Board Exam
- Got a sign off from SAICA
- Registered for a master’s degree through Wits Business School
I would have taken a longer route to become a CA but I am happy how my life turned out. This journey has made me stronger, focused, resilient, determined, driven, self-motivated, and hardworking.
One of my mentors told me I should have a road map. I took the suggestion and now have a living document where I keep track of my career growth and personal life. This has been extremely beneficial in defining my goals and purpose. (Having mentors shaped my career and personal development, I would highly recommend them.)
Have a plan and don’t worry about how it will happen, just keep on working towards your dream. It might take you years to achieve it, but you will meet your goal as long as you are determined and focused.
I am so glad that I listened to that small voice that kept telling me to keep going. If I can do it, so can you.
Asanda Ngcikiza is a seasoned finance professional and a Chartered Accountant from The South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA). She is a hardworking, determined, self-motivated, go-getter, always willing to learn.
Now It's Your Turn...
Have you given up on a dream? What is stopping you from achieving the same? Comment below and let us know.
(Article edited by Lindy Ntuli and image edited by Ankit Lodhi)