CFO Jessogan Chetty: the finance heartbeat at Bestmed

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Bestmed CFO Jessogan Chetty has spent the bulk of his career working in the education and health sectors, where he knows he can make a difference.

Bestmed Medical Scheme CFO Jessogan Chetty spent almost eight years at private schooling company ADvTECH and saw the company evolve to become more encompassing of students across the economic spectrum before moving to Bestmed Medical Scheme in August 2016.

He says:

“My experience covers the education and health space, and my career thrives on people, because I am focused on adding value to everything that I do.”

Having studied at the Stellenbosch Business School Executive Development Programme, following his BCom honours degree, Jessogan did his articles at PwC before moving into various positions across financial services and government ahead of finding his niche.

He has always been excited about numbers and knew he wanted to be involved in the finance arena. He took the plunge into a world he had elementary knowledge of at the time, and after commencing his academic path, found that it was the right opportunity for him. In fact, he was the only one in his immediate family to delve into mainstream accounting, as he is surrounded by academics. His father, for instance, has a doctorate in business administration.

He started out working in financial services at Nedbank and says his career would have been very different had he remained in the sector, as it faces its own unique and different challenges.

Instead, he transitioned into sectors where he acknowledges he can make a difference: education and health.

Finding his purpose

Before moving to Bestmed Medical Scheme (Bestmed), Jessogan spent several years in the education industry and joined ADvTECH for the first time (Jessogan rejoined the education company again later, holding three different positions there) as group project accountant. This gave him an opportunity to show his mettle and he was later offered the position of CFO of the School division. “At the time, they were growing organically because there was a trendiness to the private school sector.”

Jessogan then headed up Group Projects and was the procurement executive, where he was involved in the education company’s deals.

In between his time at ADvTECH, Jessogan also spent some time at Transnet, which was then under Maria Ramos’s leadership. “I took a leap of faith into the public sector, and I ended up executing from remote places in the country as I — together with my other senior and executive management colleagues — was responsible for the eastern corridor, which transports coal to Richards Bay.”

Among his responsibilities at Transnet, Jessogan looked at how to introduce operational enhancements, such as improving train driver efficiencies during trying financial times by observing, documenting, and recommending adjustments to their remuneration so as to encourage improved turnaround times.

“Those difficult challenges didn't kill me; they made me stronger.”

Jessogan has been CFO at Bestmed since August 2016. He says being employed in the medical aid environment necessitates the collective effort of his colleagues and himself – fondly referred to as “heartbeats” — in ensuring that members have access to quality healthcare. This has been evident in the numerous accolades earned by Bestmed, with the most recent award in March 2024 being News24 Medical Scheme of the Year.

Dealing with disruption

In health, the developments with the National Health Insurance Bill awaiting President Cyril Ramaphosa’s signature — expected before the National Elections on 29 May 2024 — among others, lend to an extraordinary time in the healthcare sector, adds Jessogan.

Another disruptive moment in history was Covid-19. The pandemic was, he admits, a condition that impacted everyone as it has been statistically proven that there probably isn’t a single person in the world that somehow wasn’t impacted by it, knows somebody that was either infected, or who unfortunately died from it.

“Being involved in the health sector at the time resulted in us dealing with the unknown, because no actuarial or financial model could fully predict the uncertainties and the outcomes we had to deal with,” says Jessogan. This, he says, assisted him from a change management perspective in terms of working in a space of disruption.

Nurturing a growing family

In his private life, Jessogan engages with his children’s school and keeps abreast of changes in the environment. “The principal is wary of me because he is aware that I know a bit more than I should, and that I am able to keep the process honest,” says Jessogan in his light-hearted manner.

What he has found is that private education of late has a stronger corporate prevalence, given the competition, which it shouldn’t ideally be. Instead, says Jessogan, it should be focused on giving children the “best opportunity at their future”.

At home, he’s married to Devenee, who is also a CA. They met at university. Devenee works in the tax space and is generally more academically inclined, according to Jessogan.

His family also has a pet Yorkie, Chloe, a situation in which he could never see himself before, because he didn’t grow up around pets, apart from the hounds on his grandmother’s plot. However, Chloe has become vital to Jessogan and his family.

“Devenee grew up with animals and, one afternoon, I was coerced into accompanying her and the children to a Yorkie breeder in the west of Johannesburg, to “simply have a peek” they said. I was then informed en route – and much to my discontent – that I was outvoted, as they had already decided on returning with a puppy. Upon arrival at the breeder and despite my having preference for a male, Chloe migrated to us with a cute smile, and the decision was instant. I can tell you, I’m besotted. I never thought I could love an animal like this. She brings a certain calmness and stability into our home.”

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