PwC leader inspires
community

Glory Koko Khumalo comes from a poor rural region of South
Africa. She has overcome adversity and is now a partner and
director at PricewaterhouseCoopers South Africa, and has just won
the award of Manager of the Year from the Black Management Forum.
She speaks to Rob Waller about her journey.

South Africa isn’t always a country that inspires. For many
years it lived under the cloud of apartheid and currently it is
suffering from an AIDS epidemic that claims about 1,000 lives per
day. Unemployment stands at 25 percent and 50 percent of the
population live under the poverty line.

One woman who has become an inspiration to many of her fellow
Africans is PricewaterhouseCoopers South Africa (PwC) partner and
director Glory Koko Khumalo.

Last month, Khumalo won the Black Management Forum (BMF) Manager of
the Year award. She is the managing partner of the north-eastern
region of PwC.

Khumalo was born in a rural community in the Limpopo region, which
is to the north of Johannesburg. Her father owned a small trading
store. It was here that Khumalo showed her first interest in
finance.

“My father told me that when we grew up he had a trading store. He
said to me that I used to ask him questions about how he was
recording money,” she tells IAB.

An aptitude for figures runs in Khumalo’s family and one of her
cousins trained with PwC’s predecessor firm, Coopers & Lybrand.
However, what really inspired Khumalo to succeed was a desire to be
financially independent.

Self-sufficient

“I grew up and was witnessing poverty and was witnessing what women
go through in their day-to-day lives – depending on someone else to
give them money or handouts. I then took a decision. Whether I’m
going to get married or not, it’s not going to be a rich man who
will then maintain me. I’m going to be self-sufficient and
financially independent. That was a key to me,” Khumalo says.

It was this determination that helped Khumalo attain a commerce
degree at the University of Limpopo. Her first job was at the
Standard Bank of South Africa in the early 1990s. However, things
were still difficult for her. Despite the changes occurring in
South Africa in the early 1990s, discrimination was still a
problem.

“I was working on a Bachelor of Commerce degree, but some of my
seniors or supervisors only had a high school qualification. That
did not make sense for me,” Khumalo says.

It was at this point that the BMF came into her life. The BMF was
set up in 1976, but it was not launched in the Limpopo region until
1995. Khumalo found the BMF to be an inspiration.

“When [BMF] was launched a person came to share with us what BMF
was all about and it really encouraged me. As I say, it was
difficult in the private sector as a black girl. We had no sense of
belonging, but through BMF we really belonged,” she says.

“I realised there was an organisation like BMF that shared my
sentiments of saying it is actually unfair not to be considered for
your qualifications because of your colour. So I have been working
with them ever since.”

Khumalo joined PwC in 1996 and completed her articles. At the firm
she found a company that shared her ideals and desire to help her
community. She became a managing partner in 2005. During this time
she continued to work for the BMF.

As chairperson for her region, Khumalo is working to help schools
in Limpopo with financial management skills. This is so they can
better utilise often meagre resources.

The BMF also does a lot of work with local students, which Khumalo
enjoys greatly. They give talks and training to help students gain
the skills that will help them succeed in the workplace.

Khumalo says her reasons for helping her community are simple. She
explained: “When you achieve in life you then look back and say
other people have contributed with your own development – what am I
doing to contribute to others?”

PwC has also played an important part in Khumalo’s community work.
“They encourage us to be involved in the community,” she says,
highlighting the firm’s Women in PwC initiative, of which she is a
member. This initiative aims to improve the working conditions of
women through mentoring and encouraging flexible hours.

Community focus

The community work helps PwC build relationships with the local
community, which in turn helps business. Khumalo’s work encourages
talented young students to pursue an accounting career with the
firm.

Khumalo believes it is this combination of success at PwC and
community work that helped her win the BMF award. Khumalo says: “To
me, I wish I could be given so much time to assist many South
Africans. Especially African kids and women that are out there and
lost and want to go somewhere in life.”

According to Khumalo: “This is just the beginning of a new
journey.”