AUDITING LECTURER: UNIVERSITY OF KWAZULU-NATAL (UKZN)
GIVING UP IS JUST NEVER AN OPTION FOR HLENGIWE NDLELA. SHE KNOWS EXACTLY HOW HARD FAILURE CAN KNOCK ONE DOWN. BUT SHE HAS OVERRIDDEN ‘FAIL’ MULTIPLE TIMES, REPLACING IT WITH THE STAMP OF SUCCESS. TODAY, SHE MENTORS SCORES OF STUDENTS INTO CONFIDENT PROFESSIONALS BECAUSE SHE KNOWS SOMETIMES ALL YOU NEED IS SOMEONE TO GIVE YOU THAT RAINBOW OF HOPE
Hlengiwe’s vibrant personality spills over into every facet of her life, from the students she inspires to achieve more with their lives right to the bold, beautiful colours of the African attire you will often find her dressed in. She’s a humble, yet strong woman who loves nurturing in any space she finds herself.
Hlengiwe Ndlela was raised by her mother in Amatikwe-Inanda with the help of her grandmother and aunts.
‘They were all domestic workers. I am very close to my grandmother, and I think this is because of her attitude towards educational excellence. I remember in primary school, as much as she was a stay-in domestic worker, she was always available to attend awards day and supported that part of my life strongly.’
Hlengiwe’s mathematics teacher in Grade 6 played a critical role in who she is today. Her uncle, a principal in a school in Pietermaritzburg, was also a role model for her as a youngster, always encouraging her to push for better results.
Besides her analytical abilities that steered her towards the CA profession, it was a woman who presented at a SAICA Development Camp in 2003 who drew Hlengiwe to pursue a career as a CA(SA).
‘She was elegant, dressed in a blue suit, calm and confident,’ describes Hlengiwe, thinking back.
During the second year of her studies, she fell pregnant and sought support from her family. She promised to be done with studies in 18 months to take over the parenting.
So, when Hlengiwe failed CTA for the first time in 2008, she had no choice but to start work because she had a six-month-old baby and a family that needed her support. She managed to find a job as an accounting teacher for Grades 10 to 12 and did this for years. After failing the CTA exam in two attempts too, the CA(SA) dream began fading, she admits. To make things worse, she was in an environment that had nothing to do with what she was studying.
A phone call from EY Durban changed that. They told her she could start articles while studying towards her CTA.
‘It was at this point where I wanted it again. Where I saw myself worthy of the qualification again. Being the fourth attempt, it is easy to lose confidence and self-belief. However, giving up was not an option, especially when I had someone believe in my abilities. Being allowed to study part-time and work in an environment that is relevant for and understand my studies with proper support, I was able to achieve my CTA,’ says Hlengiwe.
Today Hlengiwe is an auditing lecturer and researcher in the School of Accounting, Economics and Finance at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Westville Campus and is pursuing her PhD at the UKZN. She was also a panellist on the young academics segment of the 2019 Forbes Africa Women Leading Summit.
‘I enjoy how exciting lectures can be, how practical I attempt to make auditing. How easy it is for students to come for consultation, and sometimes not necessarily about the module but about their careers in general. It gives me a great position to give mentorship even in an unstructured or informal setting as it changes the lives of the students. Being a lecturer who is “young”, there is an element of relatability and my background gives my students hope.’
Hlengiwe is also a Thuthuka programme manager whose students have achieved a 99% pass rate in the first semester of 2019. In addition, she runs an intervention programme for African CTA students at UKZN.
‘My babies, the African and Coloured students funded by the Thuthuka Education Upliftment Fund, call me Mah or Mom due to the relationship we have. It gives me so much joy to have resources to be able to assist our babies to achieve their goals.’
A few of the many other projects she is involved is 1Woman1Girl mentorship, an NPO that she co-founded with the goal to empower women one girl at a time. She runs Grade 9 career day workshops for over 900 learners as well as collecting donations of sanitary towels for primary school girls in a drive to ‘keep-the-girl-in-school’ in Inanda North in Durban.
‘It gives my African sisters and brothers hope that they, too, can achieve their goals − not only just CA(SA) but whatever goal they seek to achieve regardless of where they come from, how they were raised, how much less they have,’ she says.
Hlengiwe sits in the KZN regional committee for the Advancement of Women Chartered Accountants (AWCA) where she looks after student chapters at UKZN.
She recently served as the secretary of the KZN region of the Association for the Advancement of Black Accountants of Southern Africa (ABASA) fostering youth development and providing support for aspiring black CAs(SA) in the region. She also volunteers at Meals on Wheels community services KwaZulu-Natal and Free State Area as finance committee chairperson and board member in light of elevating poverty through providing meals for South Africans in need. Hlengiwe sees herself as Dr Hlengiwe Ndlela in five years’ time.