UJ student: Rèzanne Neethling reflects on prestigious international competition

Rèzanne Neethling who competed in the 2015 KPMG International Case Competition shares her experience.

Rèzanne Neethling and three other University of Johannesburg (UJ) students from the Accountancy Department jetted off to Dubai to compete against other bright minds from 27 countries around the world. She, together with Klaus-Peter Gӧbel, Sicelo Joja and Chad Prins represented South Africa at the 2015 KPMG International Case Competition finals. They were the only African students to take part in the competition.

Rethinking and reinventing business strategies, innovative ideas tackling complex real-world business issues and well-executed presentations have won the four member student accounting team the National Round of the 2015 KPMG International Case Competition, earning them a ticket to Dubai. KPMG is a global network of professional financial services firms that provides Audit, Tax and Advisory services.

At the 2015 International Competition, the Accountancy@UJ team was evaluated on their level of insight, innovation and enthusiasm when they were presented with a case study on which they needed to provide strategic intelligence. For each round of the competition, the participating teams had three hours to carefully review, identify and analyse key business issues in order to develop gripping recommendations in a professional presentation to the judges of the competition.

UJ spoke to Rèzanne, from Fairland, Johannesburg, about this life changing experience.

UJ: How would you describe your individual contribution to the team?

Rèzanne Neethling (RN): I am a confident individual and I believe one of my strengths is critical analysis and the ability to extract the essence from a vast quantity of information. I also believe that I am a strong leader and I often played the role of consolidating and dividing up the work that had to be done.

UJ: You won the national round in the competition – this must mean that you are good – what did you do differently to outshine the locals?

RN: I think we distinguished ourselves from other teams by not having a weak link in the team. Often one can see that one or two people carry the team and the other members are merely present. Our team, however, consisted of four individuals each pulling their weight equally. I also believe that our innovative ideas and the well-organised structure of our presentation impressed the judges.

UJ: Competing on an international stage: What did you learn from that?

RN: I definitely learned a lot about international standards and what it takes to really be successful in the “Big Pond” of a global work environment. The judges were representative of almost all 28 countries competing in the event, and they constantly encouraged us to think bigger and better, as well as being able to present material in a professional manner that can be held to the standards of the international business world.

UJ: If you had to compete in this competition again, what would you have done differently?

RN: I think our team had the potential to make it to the top; some skills just needed a little bit more attention. We could have simplified our analysis of the case, as we tried to incorporate too much detail instead of focusing on one element. I also think we could have spent more time on including a comprehensive quantitative analysis (the “numbers”, as one would say).

UJ: You must have learned a few things from competing in Dubai: What do you think you gained there that you will apply to your career going forward?

RN: I think this question can be answered by a single quote from Mrs Rachel Campbell, KPMG’s Global Head of People. She gave the following career advice in her closing address: “Don’t chase the position, chase the opportunity.” I will definitely try to apply this piece of advice and wisdom in my career going forward.

UJ: How would you rate the quality of UJ Accountancy education standards compared to other international Accounting institutions?

RN: I think our education can definitely be held to the highest standards. I could easily engage in conversation with other students in subject matter like Accounting, and some students (from other countries) were even a little surprised and impressed when hearing about the way our lectures, qualifying exams and so forth are structured.

UJ: How has UJ contributed to your academic growth?

RN: UJ has, through quality education, given me the confidence to showcase my knowledge on an international stage and engage in conversation with distinguished individuals from the Accounting and Auditing profession with eagerness and curiosity.

UJ: What are your future plans regarding your career?

RN: I aspire to qualify as a CA (SA) within the next few years after completing my articles with KPMG. Thereafter, I hope to pursue a career in forensic auditing, as this has certainly become an appealing career path for me over the past year or two.

UJ: What would you say to upcoming or current students that are inspired by your success?

RN: Use the inspiration from my success story to create your own story… someone else’s success is only the “kick-start” and your success story should incorporate YOUR dreams and YOUR own unique abilities and strengths.​

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