Dr Modi Hlobo: A trailblazer in accounting and business leadership

If there’s someone whose inspiring journey and dedication are breaking barriers, you cannot look further than Dr Modi Hlobo.

Dr Modi Hlobo

Having grown up in Rockville, Soweto, Dr Hlobo always knew she had a story to tell. Her parents are originally from Limpopo Ga-Marishane, and moved back there years ago, where they have since been.

She studied BCom Accounting and became a Chartered Accountant. She then did her articles at ABSA and joined the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) post articles. She said this was where her interest in boards and being a board of directors began. She shared that her journey through her studies was not easy, but she picked herself up continually.

“What happened at the DBSA was that the companies that they had invested in would need someone to sit on the board as an observer to see what is happening in a particular business – more like someone monitoring the asset,” she explained.

After doing her articles, she started sitting on government municipal boards, particularly Johannesburg Municipal entities.

“I had a very good idea in terms of how boards run and what to expect.”

She said Chief Justice Raymond Zondo inspired her topic for her PhD as he always questioned how board members ended up in certain boardrooms, and that was where the topic started.

“He always questioned this. While some of them (board members) are qualified, ethical issues are a challenge. So he made me revisit my journey and I could see there’s something to be looked into here,” she added.

In her study on competencies and qualities of Board of Directors for State Owned Entities, she looked at the best process internationally to develop her framework for screening South African board members before they are shortlisted for appointment.

Making history at UJ’s School of Accounting

The UJ seasoned academic researcher and chartered accountant made history in March when she graduated with a PhD in Accounting.

Dr Modi Hlobo is the first black staff member of the UJ’s School of Accounting to graduate with this degree.

“I may not contribute to the Zondos but I’ve got a story to tell. As South Africans we complain a lot but we’ve got information that we can assist with. I felt that I needed to use what I have seen in both the public and private sector and contribute to making this country a better place,” said Dr Hlobo.

Dr Hlobo, who now sits on the boards of JSE-listed companies, says she wants to continue to teach and empower young people.

“There is a child out there who is struggling with their studies and they think it’s the end of the world when it’s not. If I can do this, so can anyone,” she said.

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