CFO Dawid Swart is a globetrotter at heart

When Dawid Swart isn’t travelling the world, he’s trying to save it as Wetility’s CFO.

Since being bitten by the travel bug about 12 years ago, Wetility CFO Dawid Swart has been to 32 countries on four different continents.

However, in what can be seen as a typical CA approach, Dawid notes that when considering these numbers from a percentage perspective, “I have only visited 13 percent of the world. I feel like I have barely scratched the surface.”

Dawid, who is also an avid golfer, recalls some of his travels: “I have had some memorable trips, which include a two-month rally that started in Cape Town and went through Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Malawi, and Zimbabwe as well as a family holiday that started in Istanbul, Turkey and ended with a tour of the Amalfi Coast in Italy.”

He adds, “It would also include visiting my sister when she lived in Canada and travelling to New York and Washington DC, as well as a two-month Euro Trip, which started in the Nordics, went through Germany to parts of eastern Europe, all the way to Portugal and back through France and the Netherlands to Sweden.”

Dawid admits that his travel album contains way too many highlights to mention, however there are a few that stand out like witnessing the Macy’s Fourth of July fireworks in New York City, seeing the Northern Lights in Kiruna, Sweden, meeting the “real” Father Christmas in Rovaniemi, Finland on Christmas Day, and walking the streets of Monaco just before the Formula One racing weekend.

“I have been wanting to go to South America for the longest time. I think a two-month backpacking trip starting in Columbia and ending somewhere in Patagonia is definitely on the cards,” he reveals.

Camping in the Okavango Delta and on the shores of Lake Malawi, spending a night in an igloo in Finland, travelling through the fjords in Norway; and skiing in Austria are a few other travel highlights that Dawid mentions.

“I am obsessed with nature and the outdoors. A personal favourite of mine is spending as much as time as I can in the bush or at a game reserve,” he says.

Dawid admits that he would have loved to play the Sunshine Tour “in another lifetime” although he does manage to squeeze in a sunrise golf session before work, and plays over the weekend.

Saving the globe
During his time in Sweden, Dawid developed a considerable amount of admiration and respect for the values Swedes embrace and their way of life. “The focus and dedication on building a healthy, sustainable and environmentally friendly society is at the core of who they are.”

He adds that more than half of Sweden’s power comes from renewable energy, with hydropower and bio-energy being the top two sources of energy. “Sweden has a target of 100 percent renewable energy production by 2040 and is definitely a world leader in energy transformation. What they have managed to achieve with renewable energy is just incredible.”

This inspiration has ignited his passion for renewable energy, and Dawid tries to achieve the same for South Africa as the CFO of solar solutions company Wetility. “Desite clear efforts to resolve the energy crisis as well as public sentiment supporting cleaner energy production, the adoption rate of solar solutions has been lower than expected over the past few years,” Dawid says.

In an effort to address this, Wetility has developed a user-friendly interface that allows customers to clearly understand their solar system requirements as well as what their utility savings will be once switching over to solar energy. “We have also partnered with financiers in order to provide clients with flexible finance options, which includes a lease-to-own with affordable monthly payments,” he explains.

Read more: South Africa’s move to renewable energy is inevitable

Dawid says that his role as the CFO of Wetility is “exciting, dynamic, fast-paced and challenging in the best way possible.”

He is a firm believer that the finance function needs to be firmly entrenched throughout the business. “My role demands the constant pursuit of financial and operational efficiency, resilience, and excellence through four fundamental pillars,” he says.

These pillars are:

  1. Leadership: including giving advice, providing counsel and being an effective business partner to the company.
  2. Operations: including focusing on people, processes, and technology to establish a solid foundation for growth.
  3. Controls: including ensuring compliance with applicable regulatory requirements and performing adequate assessments of risks and implementing appropriate mitigations.
  4. Strategy: including supporting strategy development, assisting with implementation, and measuring and reporting on financial, as well as non-financial performance indicators.

He adds that executing on these four pillars effectively helps the company to make the change in the power space that it needs to.

Role models and modelling
Dawid follows in the footsteps of his dad and uncle. “I have been fortunate to have several role models at different stages of my career, but the two most prominent figures throughout my life have been my father and my uncle. Both of them qualified as CAs, led a successful career in formal practice and went on to start and run highly successful businesses,” he says.

Because of his role models, Dawid knew he wanted to be a CA from a very young age. “I was convinced by the professionalism and foundational principles, the technical, challenging and ongoing competence and aptitude requirements, and the numerous opportunities that come with the designation.”

He adds that his role models have kept on inspiring him over the years by supporting him and always providing a platform for honest discussions, debate, as well as guidance.

Now Dawid pays it forward and takes time to invest in the development of the people around him. “Throughout my career I have been involved in learning and development initiatives, peer group training, as well as making myself available to the next generation of young professionals who are entering into the finance world.”

He currently provides coaching and mentorship to the Wetility finance team as well as a few university students and CA article clerks. “I was recently on a call with an ambitious and intelligent student who was looking for guidance and advice on career options, bursary options and the timing of committing to a firm for articles,” Dawid explains. “I remember being in her shoes and it makes such a big difference being able to talk to someone with a little bit of experience and perspective to help you through the decision-making process.”