How this CA went from a shy & conservative girl to a successful leadership coach and speaker

  • Hi, I am Dineshrie Pillay a Chartered Accountant and Leadership Coach from South Africa.
  • After becoming a CA, I joined the corporate world. In a few years, I was offered the opportunity to become an Audit Partner however, I left that opportunity to join a large corporate in an FMCG.
  • After 6.5 years in that position, I left my well-paying job to start my own venture of business coaching and leadership training.
  • Over the past 3 years alone, I have been blessed to have coached just over 300 people either in an individual or team coaching capacity.
  • Here is my story.

Tracing Back Roots – How I Began My Career In CA?

I was born and raised in Durban, Kwa-Zulu Natal in South Africa.

Growing up, I did not consider myself to be a “bright” student until Grade 7 when I changed schools due to our family relocating to a new suburb. It was at my new school that I was surrounded by more supportive teachers and friends that were more collaborative than competitive.

My grades started improving and I eventually matriculated with an “A” Aggregate. This experience taught me that everything can be achieved when you are surrounded by people who believe in your ability.

I enjoyed accounting in school and helped my parents file month-end invoices and payments from age 14. (I am not sure why they gave this task at that time – perhaps to teach me to be responsible with money.)

Also, my friend’s father was a Chartered Accountant and I became intrigued with the career – it did help that I loved finance, numbers and reconciling things.

At the time when I matriculated, South Africa was a new democracy. In addition to my love for accountancy, the profession was also considered to be a secure career to pursue and I was accepted at the University of my choice – it all just worked out. And here started my CA journey.

Contrary to what I had expected, my CA journey was not a straight road. 

I failed multiple times. Facing failures developed a never-give-up attitude in me. Critically, it made me strive for more. I also started studying towards the CIMA qualification.

In hindsight, I feel grateful that I went through these challenges early on in my career.

Leap Into The Corporate World & Re-evaluating my life

Knowing that my father and my brother ran their own business inspired me to do the same for myself. But I knew that I needed to gain more life experience and corporate knowledge before I started my own business.

After qualifying, I spent 1.5 years in the audit profession as a Forensic / Internal Auditor / Audit Manager; followed by a 6.5-year stint in FMCG.

In my last position working for a corporate, one of my roles was to organize the annual CPD event for all the qualified finance professionals in the company. This role gave me the opportunity to put a 2-day training event together; to source the best speakers and industry experts to speak over the course of these 2 days.

In putting the event together, I gained a sense of fulfillment, knowing that every person who attended was inspired by the content and could now be more productive in their finance roles.

When I was the MC at this event, I saw the speaker that I could become. This entire situation got me thinking!

I have to mention, growing up I struggled with my personal identity. I often acted in a way to please others or in a way that was considered to be “normal”; “respected” and “cultured”.

At some point in my life, I did not recognize the person in the mirror. I felt stifled, controlled and limited.

I remember soon after this, (I was in my late 20’s), I made a decision to live my life according to my own terms!

Also Read

This 25- year old CA quit an MNC job to be a Partner at a CA firm & simultaneously running startup

From a shy girl to a great speaker & coach while working full time

Changing beliefs is easier said than done.

I had to re-evaluate the people I associated with and the way in which I spent my time, resources and energy.

I started living life authentically and it was the sense of freedom that my soul long yearned for.

Around 2007, I recall purchasing a health magazine and the feature article was about the work that Dr. John Demartini was doing in South Africa as a Human Behavioural Specialist – I was hooked.

Fast forward 3 years later, I was so moved by Dr. Demartini’s teaching and process of healing that I later became a facilitator in his method

At that time, I had a full-time position so I used to work and coach people in my spare time on weekends.

It was during these times when I worked with people that I realized that my love for making a difference in people’s lives meant more to me than being a Corporate Finance Professional.

What next?

Taking a leap of faith and going the Entrepreneurial route

For a few years, I continued fulfilling my full-time position and coaching professionals over the weekend.

And in all my interactions I realised that there are many other people like me: technically brilliant and yet lacking leadership skills of dealing with teams; business acumen and presentation skills to help them become greater in their positions.

I knew that If I could find a way to develop programs to deal with these challenges, there would be many more inspired leaders in business and in society.

But I also knew to achieve all of this I had to quit my corporate position and focus 100% on my vision.  

That is when in September 2010 – in my early 30’s – I decided to quit my corporate finance career and start my own consultancy firm focusing on leadership training and business executive coaching. My company is called “Neospectives Consulting”.

My decision was sealed and there was now no turning back.

Also Read

I Started my own Consulting Business and Turned a Job Loss into an Opportunity

Bootstrapping my coaching business

My start-up business was all self-funded. I had a reserve of funds to cover my expenses for 6-9 months.

I also took on a part-time position as a Lecturer teaching the final stage of the CIMA examinations. This part-time income provided me with some level of certainty whilst I experimented with my initial service offering and started to build my client base.

At some point, once my business revenue and clientele became stable, I resigned as a part-time lecturer to focus on building my business.

First clients 

Starting a business is tough. Approaching clients and proposing services and then being rejected requires a tough skin.

I had to learn quickly and adapt to the market and the needs of my customers. This meant that I had to constantly review and re-evaluate my business model; my service offering and the type of clients I attracted.

The hard decision I had to make along the way was to cut my losses on investments I made into products or service offerings that no longer made sense for my brand or my business model.

This decision also meant that I had to lose some clients along the way in order to gain new ones in alignment with my adapted service offering.

Also Read

Meet this CA who went from extreme poverty to becoming a Partner at PwC, South Africa

Growing the venture

I hardly did any direct marketing. My new clients all approached me mainly through my existing delegates.

I learnt very quickly that in order to build my client-base I needed to treat each client like 'Platinum'. Every delegate was and continues to be a gift.

Every opportunity to teach was my opportunity to reach more people through referrals and that is how I primarily grew my business over 11 years – through word-of-mouth.

Courses offered

I believe that in order to be a leader in business you first need to lead yourself before you lead other people. This concept is the foundation of my first book that is available on Amazon called “The contract with yourself”

Once you learn how to lead yourself, you then need to learn how to present and communicate your message as a leader in business. This leads me to my second book and online course on presentation skills that I will be launching in the last quarter of 2020.

Finally, a leader in business needs to know how to work with people and lead within their role. As an Executive Coach, I offer online coaching programs for leaders in business.

My e-commerce store includes the following options:

  • Online Self-Help Coaching Kits;
  • Presentation Skill Training;
  • Webinar Training;
  • Personal Leadership Brand Assessments;
  • Interview Skill Training; and
  • Live Training Events.

Clients can work directly with me as their Executive Coach by choosing one of three coaching programs:

  • Succession Coaching; or
  • New Leader Coaching; or
  • Performance Coaching.

Summary of my 11-year career in the business of coaching 

2010: Commence services with University Workplace Readiness Programs

2011:  Conduct 1st Induction Group with 3 delegates

2012: Public Engagements as MC of Corporate Events commence

2013: Conference Speaking Engagements commence with audience size +250 Pax

2014: Launch 1st book: The contract with yourself: Sold over 5000 copies

2016-2018: Mass Training on Presentation Skills and Leadership Development Programs to Senior Management: +/- 3000 people trained

2019: Launch of 2nd Edition of Book: The Contract with Yourself


This has been a transformative time for me and my business. Lockdown has afforded me time to be at my creative peak.

  • August: Launch of my online e-commerce store and DIY-Coaching Services and Online Training Solutions related to Individual Coaching and Leadership
  • September: Launch of my book on presentation skills and online training courses on presentation skills.
  • Lockdown Motivational Video Link:

The question I get asked often:

"How to become a better speaker?"

My advice to anyone who is seeking to improve their presentation skills is to 'just start speaking'.

There is no such thing as 'perfection'. You will grow your skill as a speaker, the more you get up and speak.

Embrace failure, rejection embarrassment and shame; you will have those days when you will have “awful presentations” and this is good.

Every time you “fail” as a speaker, you have the opportunity to learn from it to become even better. When you say yes to speaking, you say yes to growth.

Wrapping Up…

My advice is to follow your intuition: it will help you to lead authentically.

Use time wisely. Time is a blessing and time is also finite. Use your time to play the game of life full-out and fully embrace every experience. When a door of opportunity opens up for you, walk through it and see where it leads.

Tittles are just that: titles. What is more important is how you use your education to serve a need that is greater than yourself – this is my philosophy on life.

Why be sad when I can be grateful and smile at my blessings. Why get depressed by things that I have no control over. I choose to focus on matters that I have control over, everything else: I let go off.

Dineshrie Pillay is a Chartered Accountant – CA(SA) and Fellow Chartered Management Accountant (FCMA) by profession. She is also an Associate Certified Coach (ACC) registered with the International Coach Federation (ICF); and a Distinguished Toastmaster. is a coaching platform with several courses both free and paid. We also help in delivering a motivational speech at your next conference; Developing a leadership development programme for your staff; Conducting an individual or group coaching session for your team.

Now It's Your Turn...

Do you need to build your speaking skills or need coaching to be a better leader? Here is a 15-minute free consult with Dineshrie:

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