CFO of the Week: Siboniso Mdluli, CFO FNB Swaziland: Mobility crucial for career development in finance
“Professional mobility is the best thing for anyone who wants to grow and develop his career both from a professional and technical perspective. It is best way to broaden your global business knowledge and accelerate career advancement,” says Siboniso Mdluli, who joined FNB Swaziland as Chief Financial Officer after 10 years of professional accounting and finance experience at PwC. Mdluli recently joined CFO South Africa as a platinum member and is keen to learn and share experiences with peers from other companies.
Born and bred in Swaziland, Mdluli, a qualified CA (SA), did his post-graduate degree through Unisa and the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa, with three years of articles at PwC in his home country. “There is nothing that quite surpasses the pride you feel when you get that Chartered Accountant qualification as it is a very hard route to follow through until the end,” says Mdluli. “I have noticed that the CA (SA) qualification is widely respected internationally. It forces one to find innovative ways of turning problems into possibilities.”
Last year, Mdluli felt it was time for a change. “It got to the point in my career where I thought I had done my part in practice at PwC and felt the need to be in business. With just over 7 years of managerial experience at PwC, I had been exposed to all sectors of the business. I had interacted both at corporate and executive management level as well as at Board of Directors level, where I had represented the firm. For my career growth and development I needed a new challenge to broaden my horizon and I needed to learn new things. I needed to run a business and to get to the coalface to become accountable for delivering results.”
Mdluli’s drive and ambition were ignited during a secondment to the offices of PwC in the United States, a period he enthusiastically reflects on. “My period in the US was an eye opener in terms of experience, exposure and cultural diversity and it was great to be working in a different business environment. From a technical accounting point of view, there are some standards you learn about during your studies that are not really applicable in an African context due to size and level of complexity of our economic landscape, so it was great to technically apply those standards in practice and to get real life business experience with them.”
“Moving to another country and applying your skills in a new context is an enormous boost for your adaptability, flexibility and readiness to embrace new ways of working,” says Mdluli. “I learnt about new cultures, customs and local business practices first hand, as well as building up a strong network of international contacts. To successfully transfer your skills and expertise into a new, international arena, you'll also need to display exceptional soft skills alongside your technical ability.”
Experiencing different countries and corporate environments has really motivated Mdluli to “always try to be the best and stay up to date”, he says. “That mobility has been crucial for my personal and professional development. These days, you need to understand and embrace the global village. The world is a small place now and for a professional from an African country it is important to understand the global differences and dynamics. It is important to bridge the gaps to seamlessly create value for your organization.”
Mdluli says he is learning a lot in his current role at FNB, where he’s been heading up the Swazi finance department since December 2013. “Joining the bank is the best decision I could have made. Operationally, I am responsible for statutory and regulatory reporting, financial and management accounting, management information systems and the capital and performance management aspect of the business. My role is in value creating, playing a strategic partner role and working directly with the CEO and Business Unit Heads to steer and drive our strategic imperatives”
Acquiring a platinum membership with CFO South Africa was a logical step for Mdluli. “For me, a successful and enduring career requires networking. This is even truer with today’s evolving economic conditions and volatile marketplace. I have no doubt that CFO South Africa will provide me with a platform to share and learn. I am always yearning for more knowledge. My goal is to grow technically, strategically and professionally.”
The membership will help a CFO to stay on top of his game, he says. “It is all about getting exposure and experience, hence tapping into this opportunity helps to fuel my growth and development, which is a powerful professional development boot camp experience for testing my ideas, honing my ability to communicate and improving my executive and strategic thinking and presence. Networking for me as a young professional is all about fun and professional advancement to stay at the top of my game.”
Siboniso is featured as a Platinum Member of CFO South Africa, if you also would like to share your ideas with the CFO Community. Join the ultimate peer-to-peer advisory network for CFOs and boost your career, company and knowledge. Become a member now and enjoy the countless benefits you will receive.