North-West University students take part in Global Challenge
Four North-West University (NWU) students and their mentor will represent SA in the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (Cima) Global Challenge in Malaysia in August.
There is pressure on South African business people to develop better forecasting skills so that they can better expand their businesses into the global market, and this type of competition develops forward-looking skills, says Cima Southern Africa regional director Samantha Louis.
She says it is exciting that SA will be represented in the international competition for the first time, meaning that SA’s students could be “benchmarked” against their peers from other countries.
Cima is the world’s largest professional body of management accountants with 172000 members and students in 165 countries worldwide.
Econometrix director and chief economist Azar Jammine says South African business expansion into foreign markets is not always a good idea, but if a business can do it successfully it will have the opportunity to grow faster than it would in the domestic market because many countries abroad, and especially other African countries, are experiencing stronger economic growth.
“Another advantage is that of diversifying risks, but they must be in control. There is a litany of South African companies that have gone overseas and botched it up,” he says.
Louis says that, in addition to showing students just how exciting a business career can be, the competition forces students to integrate various business skills, not just accounting.
“In business you need to think outside your discipline and see the impact of your decisions (before they are implemented) across the business,” she says.
SA has a definite shortage of management accountants, which Cima defines as people trained in “the process of identification, measurement, accumulation, analysis, preparation, interpretation and communication of information used by management to plan, evaluate and control within an entity and to assure appropriate use of and accountability for its resources”, she says.
“There are not nearly enough (management accountants) ... and the key absent skill is the ability to look across an organisation as a whole ... Financial accounting is historically-focused and it is important, but (management accounting is about) what you are going to do this year or next year,” says Louis.
The winning South African team — Mar-Louise van der Merwe, Thia Louw, Marli Theunissen, Ben-John Volkwyn and their mentor, NWU management accounting lecturer Rona Louwrens — will travel to Malaysia in August to present a business plan in competition with national teams from the UK, Ireland, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka, India, mainland China, Malaysia, Pakistan, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, the Philippines and Australia.
The Malaysia trip, including R1000 in spending money each, is their prize.
“It’s unreal. I don’t think we’ll believe it until we are standing at the airport in Malaysia,” said Van der Merwe, the team’s leader, moments after judge and independent consultant Michael Furber announced “Sunesis Business Solutions” a “clear winner” on Wednesday.
“I’m quite excited to see what doors this opens for each of us,” says Van der Merwe.
Passion is the team’s winning formula, she says.
“What really hit the button,” interjects Theunissen, “was that I put myself into the other’s chairs ... If I was sitting in the boardroom listening (to a presentation) what would I want to hear? We were brief, concise and we considered what grasp they (the fictitious company for which they had to find solutions) had of the situation.”
“Yes, we had to remember that the board already knew what was going on. That what they want you to tell them is how to fix it (their problem). When we had that mind set we found it easier to keep it short,” says Van der Merwe.
This article was first published in Business Day.
Published by: Pertunia Thulo
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