Haneke Van Zyl, 34

As a young academic, Haneke lives by the saying that good leaders do not tell you what to do, they show you how it is done. She has set her mind to ensuring that she does just that – she leads by example and does not let opportunities or challenges that can broaden her horizons pass her by. It is exactly this mind-set – initially sparked by volunteering as a group coordinator − that started her on her journey from a wide-eyed Afrikaans-speaking girl from a small Northern Cape town to a respected leader who holds her own in discussions with colleagues who outrank her in experience and age.

She joined the School of Accountancy at the University of the Free State in 2015 as a financial accounting lecturer. By 2018, she had fulfilled both the roles of a year-group coordinator and Accounting subject head. In this three-year period, she obtained her master’s degree, was promoted to senior lecturer and was appointed as Programme Director: General Accountancy and Research.

In her current position, she secured two professional programme accreditations to expand the available opportunities for students. She established the school’s research committee, put measures in place to drive research activities, and is co-supervising two master’s students.

She is a lecturer who is a student of her own craft. Testament to this is her PhD focusing on students’ accounting language comprehension and her role in a SAICA-funded academic literacy project in collaboration with the School of Accountancy. She reviews and authors academic textbooks and chapters in textbooks,, serves on SAICA’s AGA competency framework development team and has marked the ITC – living the words of Scott Adams: ‘Every skill you acquire doubles your odds of success.’

As academic career can easily become stagnant, but she has established herself, at the age of 34, as a noteworthy leader. Through her willingness to learn and hunger to develop, she ensures that her voice is heard.

Haneke is the mother of two amazing little girls and proudly holds the designation of CA(SA), but she is also much more. As Wolfgang Riebe said: ‘Everyone is gifted, but some people never open their package.’ She strongly supports this statement and believes it is her responsibility to open her package by exploring all possibilities to reach her full potential.

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