- Player: Victor Sekese
- Company: SizweNtsalubaGobodo (SNG)
- Est: 1985
- Contact: +27 (0)11 231 0600
- Visit: www.sng.za.com
When Victor Sekese was appointed CEO of NkonkiSizweNtsaluba 17 years ago, what followed was a baptism by fire. The firm had been headed up by Sizwe Nxasana, an innovative, powerful, and charismatic leader who was highly respected wherever he went.
With Nxasana’s departure for Telkom however, a shockwave ran through the firm – there was no succession plan to speak of.
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Today, Sekese leads what has evolved into SizweNtsalubaGobodo, the biggest black-owned accounting firm in the country, and the fifth largest overall.
A firm of around 1 200 employees, it takes in around 200 trainee accountants each year and is a hothouse for black chartered accountants, producing the highest number of successful black accounting candidates of all black professional services firms in Gauteng in 2014.
Building an institution
“By 1998, when I took over as CEO, we were a national firm with offices in all the major cities,” says Sekese.
“I brought the executive team together and said, ‘this is what has happened, so what do we do now?’ We developed a new way forward to ensure the firm was defined by the value we bring as a team collectively, rather than by the personality of one individual.”
Redefining a firm that was in its 14th year was never going to be easy. Although the firm’s reputation was a result of collaboration, the market had to be educated that it stood on its own feet as an institution like its bigger counterparts, regardless of who was at the helm.
Part of the long-term strategy was to grow it into the biggest black-owned audit, advisory and forensic services firm in the country. By 2011, when SizweNtsaluba VSP and Gobodo Incorporated merged to form SizweNtsalubaGobodo, that goal was well on its way to being achieved.
Leaving a legacy
Animated and energetic, Sekese calls SNG a purpose driven firm. “What I mean by that is that we continue to be influenced by our founders who launched the firm in 1985, at a time when black people were excluded from the economy. They wanted to create a vehicle that would help to emancipate black people. They resigned from their careers in the corporate sector to launch an entrepreneurial business that gave them none of the protection afforded by the corporate world. That desire to create a lasting legacy is what drives our strategy to this day. The merger has enabled us to have an impact not only in South Africa but on the continent too.”
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SNG, he says, attests to the belief that there is no-one better than an African to solve African problems. “We bring authenticity to the table, and develop unique solutions for indigenous issues.”
Sekese insists that political, business and social leadership gaps in Africa can only be closed when Africans are involved in creating leadership legacies, which SNG is committed to doing.
“Central to that commitment is quality of leadership. That’s why we launched the SNG Corporate Academy, which advises on strategy, innovation and people, to help turn organisations into high performing units. Talent management plays a huge role as we focus on the competencies we need to take us where we want to go. Succession planning is taken care of because we have identified all the competencies we need at top management level, and all the way down throughout the company.”
From transactional to strategic
Sekese admits that the aspiration to be the advisors of choice is a big one. “Because it’s difficult to force change in the market when you are competing with the big four, we started to expand our areas of interest by identifying quick wins. When we get a small contract, we view it as a way into the client’s world, and we make sure we excel.”
He insists that SNG does not get business because of its BEE status.
“We live in a world where change is constant, and while BEE is an issue today, tomorrow it may not be. We offer services that are completely over and above the market and colour of the firm. Also, BEE accreditation will not bring in business from the rest of the continent.
“Historically our involvement and relationships with our clients was at a transactional level only, just providing transactional services such as auditing and forensics. We have since elevated our relationships with our clients to a strategic level , wherein we are trusted business advisors helping them with their respective strategic journeys, over and above transactional services. Our trusted business advisor approach results in clients for life for the firm and ensures we are sustainable going into the future.”