Finance in the family (Part 5): The Ntshiza squad

Thobeka and Zamani Ntshiza started their relationship over the phone. Now they have five children.

These CFOs have ignored the theory that “opposites attract” in choosing their life partners and have opted for like-minded individuals who have made their own way in the field of finance. Together, these couples have grown as leaders, at home and in business.

Both Thobeka and Zamani Ntshiza enjoyed accounting and science in school. Zamani chose to pursue a career in finance after a CA visited his high school to talk about the finance profession.

“There were not a lot of black CAs at the time and I liked the way he was presenting himself and the things he said they did as CAs,.” he says. What appealed most to Zamani was the way the visitor looked. “He was distinguished and very different from what we were used to.”

Thobeka has always been fascinated by people who had acronyms before and after their names and wanted to have a CA(SA) title after hers. She had also been told that passing the board exams and becoming a CA was impossible. “I wanted to challenge that and be the one to pass,” she says

Now, as the CFO of Avis Fleet, Thobeka is responsible for ensuring the financial stability of the company. “My focus has been around working capital management, which speaks to the liquidity of the business, and making sure we have the cash to sustain our operations.” She also has to identify and understand the risks that are emerging from the economic and trading environments and how they will affect the business.

Zamani is the country financial director of TMH Africa, a new rail company that is part of an international group from Russia. “A big part of my role is to expose the new company to the South African financial markets on top of day-to-day financial management of an international manufacturing concern.”

Thobeka and Zamani were introduced to each other over the phone during the December holidays by a mutual colleague. Thobeka was a vocational student at Sasol’s Sasolburg branch, while Zamani was working in Sasol’s Johannesburg offices, having just finished his articles.

After talking for four to five months and realising that they had similar personalities and interests, Zamani drove down to Durban to meet Thobeka, who was studying for her CTA at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

Thobeka says that, in any job, you sometimes get stuck, which is where having another CA in the house comes in handy. “It helps to be able to check in with Zamani, ask him whether he’s come across the same problem before and how he’s dealt with it.”

Zamani says the fact that they are both CAs also helps a lot when it comes to planning their family finances. “We both appreciate the importance of budgeting.”

Thobeka and Zamani consider their five children a “squad”, with ages ranging between eight and 22 years old. Their two eldest children, Mfanelo (22) and Bongumenzi (21), have already moved out of home and are “nowhere near becoming accountants”. One is serving a gap-year programme in Zimbabwe, which will help him choose a career, and the other works in a government-sponsored factory in Durban that helps children with disabilities contribute to the economy. The three younger children, twins Nkanyezi and Zamatolo (11) and Lethuzwano (8) are still in primary school.

“In the evenings we have dinner together as a family and then watch a movie or documentary,” Thobeka says. However, they also insist on spending at least two hours a week away from work and children, when they do things to relax. For Zamani, this means going to the gym or watching sport. For Thobeka, this means getting into her “zone” with uplifting spiritual music or spending some time with her girlfriends.

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