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Youth in accountancy series: Cobus Grove

To celebrate international youth day, The Accountant and International Accounting Bulletin asks professionals aged under 35 to share their thoughts on the profession: why they qualify as accountants, whether it was challenging and, now that they are in, how they see the profession and where it is going.

Cobus Grove
Senior vice president of sales and execution

Q: Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am currently fulfilling the role of the senior vice president of sales and execution of a company called Inseego listed on Nasdaq based in San Diego in the USA.

Previously I served as the CFO of DigiCore Ltd when I was 32. I was responsible for the development and selling of the Ctrack fleet management solution globally. I was part of the management team that lead the share price to increase by 225% and then lead to the delisting and sale of the company to Inseego in October 2015. I was then promoted to the General Manager of Ctrack globally looking after operations expanding to over 56 countries and with over a thousand employees.

I have a passion for technical accounting and at the age of 28, I was appointed as a senior lecturer at the University of Johannesburg lecturing accounting Honours. This love for technical accounting led to being appointed as an associate director at Ernst & Young specializing in the application of the principles of International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) and in the banking and insurance industries.

I was also a member of the accounting practise council for six years, which is the technical accounting committee of the South African Institute for Chartered Accountant (SAICA) and I am currently a standing member of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange financial reporting investigations panel.

In 2015 I was awarded the CFO South Africa award for Corporate Governance and Compliance and won the award for the South African Institute for Chartered Accountants Top 35-under-35 award in the corporate category.

I have a beautiful, understanding wife and two wonderful kids. A daughter aged three and son aged five. I love playing tennis and spending time with my family.

Q: Why did you pick this profession?
I was exposed to the business world at a very young age by my father. I realised very quickly that the most recognised destination within the business world in South Africa is to be a CA (SA) and all my schooling choices were based on achieving this goal.

Q: How you qualified (which institute? course? was it easy/hard? where you well supported?)
I obtained my degree (three years) and Honours (one year) in accounting science at the University of Johannesburg. I obtained my degree Cum Laude and initially thought the course is challenging but with hard work could do very well. Then my honours year hit and it was a bit of an emotional rollercoaster, a year when you started doubting yourself and to learn some crisis management skills. It is this year when I learnt the most of the skills I apply in my day-to-day life and none of it related to actual course material.

I then did my three year training contract through Deloitte where I gained some valuable business experience.

Q: Now that you are in how do you see the profession?
The profession is still in my opinion the benchmark for business qualifications in South Africa. The qualifications process of such a high standard that newly qualified accountants are ready to understand the business landscape and enter an organisation and just a higher level.

Q: What are some of the difficulties you encountered as young professional coming in?
Holding senior positions at a very young age always placed a bit more pressure to perform at a high level. You are always watched a bit more carefully by the more experienced.

Q: Do the professional institutions cater effectively for prospective young accountants?
I believe the professional institutions provide many opportunities for young accountants including committees and events to join and attend. I unfortunately also believe that most young accountants do not take these opportunities to grow and develop as individuals.

Q: How do you see the profession evolving in the future?
The profession is being regulated more and more and I believe we will see more specialisation at a younger age. With this move to more regulation, utilising available technology is becoming more important.

Q: How do you believe will your generation impact it?
Traditionally an accountant was seen to be office bound and to wear grey suits- those days are now over. My generation evolved the position of an accountant into a dynamic business professional that could be applied in any part of the business from accounting to sales.

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