Checkmate for Inge Marx

Inge has been named the top student in four accounting subjects at the University of Johannesburg.

Coming out tops in auditing, taxation, financial accounting and financial management in the final year of her accounting degree, Inge Marx has always been academic. Yet, she says, her achievements are closely linked to choosing the right career path.

“I really enjoy what I do, and it helps a lot when you – and the people around you – are passionate about what you’re doing,” she says. “I think I really excelled in the last year because of the environment that I was placed in, as well as the fellow students and lecturers that surrounded me.”

Although she’s now a third-generation accountant – her grandfather taught high school accounting and her father, Professor Ben Marx, is head of the accountancy department at UJ – entering the field was not initially part of Inge’s plans. Driven by a deep need to help others, she initially wanted to become a doctor.

“I wanted to study medicine for as long as I can remember and even selected my subjects in line with that,” she says. “When I was in Grade 11, I had to do job shadowing for school and my dad suggested I just try accounting for one day as part of the process. And on that very day I realised that this was what I wanted to do.”

While Inge never felt pressured to enter the accountancy field, she was very aware of the career because of her family legacy. “I was always wary of that impression of accountants, of simply crunching numbers. Yet, when I got to see what they do, how people-oriented they are and how you can actually help a lot of people through accounting – because that’s one of the things I’m very passionate about – I knew it was for me.”

During her studies, Inge was also struck by the work the lecturers do and how they affect the lives of their students. That’s why she’s currently dedicating the first year of her articles to being an academic trainee (AT) at UJ. “My lecturers helped me to get where I was and I thought if I could at least help one person the way one of them helped me, even in the smallest way, I’m jumping at that opportunity,” she says.

Inge’s second love, chess, has been a lifelong passion that feeds into her flair for accounting. “My grandfather taught chess as well as accountancy, so he taught me chess at one of our weekly Sunday lunches when he got tired of losing to me at cards,” she laughs. “Chess became my ‘sport’ and I was selected for South Africa’s national team.

“I’m grateful to have had that experience to be able to compete internationally since the age of nine in all different types of countries, from Mauritius to Greece to Singapore to India. Seeing the different cultures and how diverse types of people approach life gives you a new perspective and shows you the importance of respecting and accommodating people’s differences.”

Now a women’s international chess master in chess, Inge still plays recreationally and loves the way her two passions feed into one another. “People have a boring idea of accountants but the intricacies and problem solving are what I really enjoy,” she says. “Chess has helped a lot with that because it largely involves analytical and strategic thinking – understanding what’s happening, how to fix it and what’s next. That’s why, when I got into the crux of accounting, I felt at home.”

While Inge has always wanted to enter the business world, she’s not ruling out a career in academics. “Seeing how incredible it is to help shape future minds is allowing me to see a completely different side to the industry,” she says. “I’m just learning as much as possible for now. I'll see where the road takes me once I complete my articles at Deloitte.”

Inge is also busy working on her master’s degree, through which she hopes to look at the integration of technology and machine intelligence and learning with accounting. We look forward to tracking her next moves.