We searched high and low for Ayanda Sepamla’s contact details and were absolutely determined to have her feature on this platform! Ayanda embodies everything The Corporate Canvas strives for – women who are ambitious, well-versed in personal finance and who possess an unwavering desire to succeed! Meet 29-year-old Ayanda Sepamla, a qualified Chartered Accountant and the Business Manager for the Head of ABSA Business Banking at Barclays Africa Group. With a B.Com in Financial Accounting under her belt, Ayanda was recently chosen as one of the Top-35-Under-35 Chartered Accountants in South Africa for 2015 and was also recognised as a “Rising Star” at the global Barclays Diversity Business Awards held in New York this past October. Continue reading below as Ayanda offers insight into acquiring wealth, the true meaning of “investing” and what it takes to work closely with top corporate execs…
Full name: Ayanda Sepamla
Current title/company: Business Manager for the Managing Executive of ABSA Business Banking at Barclays Africa Group
Educational background: B.Com in Financial Accounting, University of Cape Town; Honours in Financial Accounting, University of Johannesburg; Qualified CA(SA)
Current city: Johannesburg
Ayanda, at present you are the Business Manager to the Head of ABSA Business Banking South Africa at Barclays Africa Group. This is a highly significant role as it requires a strong individual who is responsible for running the business of their respective Executive, provide support to an Executive on day to day business deliverables, investigate and research business issues and of course, think strategically. This has become a highly sought-after role and it says leaps about you and where your career is going! Take us through the journey of what brought you to your present role?
My personal mantra is to always learn something at every opportunity or circumstance. Therefore I can say that my career started at the University of Cape Town on the basketball first team where I learnt teamwork, the importance of networking and shared trust.
I have always had the community at heart, so another role was as an elected member of the Commerce Student Council. My role as a representative for the commerce student body gave me an opportunity to represent my fellow students and be their voice on commerce-related issues. I understood that being elected to this body was a great privilege and responsibility.
Moving on to my formal career as a Chartered Accountant, I chose Ernst and Young for my articles who, whilst being the smallest of the big four accounting firms, is renowned for servicing global, complex and high profile clients. My tenacity, drive and willingness to take on responsibility afforded me access to some of the biggest clients on our books as well as partners even as a junior, thus accelerating my learning process. I was given accountability very early on in my career and rose through the ranks. As time went on, I had management oversight and the ability to make decisions that had far reaching consequences and liability. This exposure and experience made me realise that I thrive in high pressured team environments.
My current position is working as the Business Manager for the Head of ABSA Business Banking at Barclays Africa Group which certainly has been the highlight of my career. The job specifications were stringent and required extensive banking experience; however I demonstrated a fresh approach to banking, intellectual curiosity, the ability to assimilate into new environments, with an aptitude for communication which resulted in me getting the position.
As someone who works closely with an Executive at one of the major South African banks, you must learn a great deal on a daily basis. What major tips on business and leadership can you take from your role so far?
I have learnt that it’s ok for a leader to show vulnerability, to show your humanity – it brings you closer to your people.
It’s also important that you move around through the lenses of the people around the table because even if you are right, there is always a better way.
You are known amongst your peers as someone who is passionate about personal finance mastery. What would you say is the key lesson every woman needs to take into consideration when building their individual wealth?
Women need to start having a customised, goal-based and integrated approach to building wealth. Too often, women that are already investing and/or saving for their future don’t actually know whether their current investments/savings will enable them to achieve their goals. Their investment/wealth plans need to be clearly articulated in writing, in this way, it is a constant reference point as to whether or not they are achieving their goals. Also very key is to be vigilant of how much debt they accumulate as this ultimately affects their NET worth.
For those that haven’t started planning for their wealth, the advice is start NOW, working with a financial partner that will hold your hand through the process!
The reality is that all persons come from different financial backgrounds – while some are fortunate to have parents who pay for their education, others graduate from university having student loans to pay off and family members to support financially. As a result, repeating the mantra that one should save their income on a monthly basis is not necessarily easy in practice for some! What advice would you give to women who find themselves in situations where money is tied to more persons/family members other than themselves, yet wish to build their savings and wealth?
For most of us, it’s really about understanding that family is important and by investing in them, you are investing in those that have helped you along the way. The challenge is assessing what you need to assist with and knowing when you can’t afford to help. This relationship also needs to have rules and boundaries.
My advice is that no matter what, stick to your financial plan (mentioned above), incorporating the family commitments. Continue to save, maintain that discipline, even if it means that at certain stages of your life you manage to save more and then at other stages, less.
Do you feel positive about SA’s economy? What effect do you think our current financial climate has on women?
We certainly do have our challenges (education, currency fluctuations, political etc.) however, being in the business banking space exposes me to the colourful spectrum of businesses we have in our economy. From start-ups all the way up to growing and fruitful businesses, it’s exciting to see the innovation, drive and commitment that young people and women have. The challenge is around the sustainability of those businesses and ensuring that private and public sectors lower the barriers and create opportunities for access to funding, access to non-financial support and access to markets.
As a Business Manager, what does a typical work day look like for you?
In all honesty there is no typical day! Every single day is different; one day I could be in an EXCO session making key decisions that impact customers, risk and the community and the next, I am at a conference cheering on my Executive as she addresses hundreds of women. That’s what keeps it exciting.
Advice for aspiring accountants and businesswomen?
Firstly, be very aware of the concept that the only ceiling to your dreams is the self-imposed one, and that we create it because of a lack of confidence or a lack of application. Have belief in yourself and your abilities!
Secondly, never be afraid of failure and never give up, knowing that opportunities may not come to you, you must chase them as well.
I would also encourage accountants to think outside the box. Accounting and personality are not mutually exclusive.
And lastly, once the aspiring accountant or businesswomen makes it to the top, always remember that “A candle loses nothing from lighting another.” Always lift others as you are rising to the top.
Morning or night? Night
If you could have lunch with any woman, who would it be and what would you order?
The mighty and resilient, Dr. Joyce Banda. I met her earlier this year where she gave a keynote address, speaking about her life and journey. She was charming, extremely funny and absolutely inspiring. I would have a cheesy bacon, feta and avo pizza!
I wish I knew how to… shut out negativity (hope this comes sooooon with age)
African women… are the backbone of this continent!
South Africa is… full of passionate, smart and driven young people, they need to start to realising their full potential
Worst money mistake… Taking up too much debt! When you take up debt, you make the assumption that you will be able to pay this back in future. A change in personal circumstances can lead to you falling into difficult financial circumstances.
Best investment… travel, travel, travel.
Motivation in 3 words… boldness, resilience, passion