CA Nokuzola ‘Adrenaline’ Morata hopes to change the tides of the profession

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Having made her own way into finance, Nokuzola hopes to make it easier for those who follow.

Nokuzola Morata’s career journey is a testament to when the system works. In grade 10, her accounting teacher, Mrs DuCroq, inspired her passion for the subject. In grade 11, she already knew she wanted to become a chartered accountant (CA) and Dr Janni Zaaimain, founder of the Mzansi Youth Choir, arranged for her to do some vacation work at a small accounting firm.

When Nokuzola completed her matric in 2008, she received a bursary to study for her Bachelor of Accounting Science degree. After passing both her Initial Test of Competence and Assessment of Professional Competence qualifying exams, and completing her articles at EY South Africa, she was seconded to the Coca-Cola headquarters in the US.

In 2018, Nokuzola returned to South Africa and joined ABB as the general accounting and accounts payable oversight manager for 11 sub-Saharan African countries. However, when the company sold its PowerGrids division to Hitachi in 2019, she was recruited to join the new entity, which had changed its name to Hitachi Energy South Africa. She was appointed the general accounting manager for southern Africa in January 2020.


Paying it forward

That same year, she founded Leadfluence, a non-profit organisation that helps to mentor and improve the employment prospects of new entrants into the workforce with a focus on young and inexperienced black individuals. “The plight that women and children face in South Africa is what keeps me up every night,” she says.

“It saddens me to see the weakest and most vulnerable in our society disdained.”

Fast forward three years and Nokuzola is also the trust administrator of the Power Grids Education Trust, which contributes to the empowerment and upliftment of black women in STEM, and a member of the African Women Chartered Accountants (AWCA). She also sits on the Power Spaces sub-committee, and is an external marker for Advance Auditing CTA levels at Unisa. “As a professional and most importantly a South African citizen, I believe there are many opportunities to lend a hand in building the future of our nation.”

She adds that all of these roles are her way of giving back to the future of CAs in South Africa.

“I am able to positively impact communities within my reach,” Nokuzola says. “I am able to impart my skills, knowledge and experiences of the corporate sector, making their corporate journey easier to navigate.”


Not as easy as it seems

Nokuzola explains that, while her own journey might have seemed easy, her experience of the profession has shown her that barriers to entry still exist for black women. “Self-doubt and imposter syndrome have been one of the hardest battles I have had to wage.”

In fact, it was the hard work she put into addressing these challenges that saw her take her journey with grace. “Among other things, I continuously invest in myself through leadership programmes that accelerate my exposure and reinforce my confidence,” she says.

She is currently doing the Executive Development Programme with the International Women’s Forum of South Africa, in partnership with Duke Corporate Education University.

“Through this programme, I am learning how to become an authentic African women leader.”


It takes a community

Nokuzola’s passion for advancing and empowering people is evident in her professional life, and in her community at home. “My dream is to one day open a community centre where young people can upskill themselves by learning more about art, sport and basic life skills,” she says.

She explains that the aim of the centre is for it to be an outlet for young people to get away from the sombre and enervative realities of life. “Chief among this is that we will be providing opportunities to the youth to make a success of themselves, breaking the cycle of crime, poverty and hardship in our communities.”


A thrill-seeking, family woman

When she isn’t empowering the people, Nokuzola spends time with her husband and two children. She also enjoys spending time in the kitchen, and calls it her sanctuary. “I find so much solace and comfort while trying new dishes or creating my own dishes. It’s therapeutic for me.”

And when her sanctuary gets a little boring, Nokuzola jumps off bridges. “My middle name is ‘Adrenaline’,” she laughs.

“I enjoy travelling and the outdoors, and every now and then I am fuelled by the urge to jump off a 700 foot high bridge.”

She boasts that she has bungee jumped off Bloukrans Bridge, the world’s highest bungee bridge – a feat fit for fearless people like her.

However, her proudest achievement thus far is still being able to be a present wife and mom to her family, over and above all the work she is putting into helping the young finance community.

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