CA and entrepreneur Christiaan van den Berg is working to bridge the gap between the unemployed and potential employers through JOBJACK.
Christiaan van den Berg is the co-founder of JOBJACK, a platform that is committed to bridging the entry-level unemployment gap by connecting job seekers and employers through a streamlined digital solution.
Having been born into a family of chartered accountants (CAs), Christiaan found the accounting field to be a natural foundation for his journey, and his unwavering commitment and passion for people positioned him for success in his current role.
Faced with a choice to study accounting or drama, an interest sparked by his film producer father who started his career as an accountant, Christiaan followed his affinity for numbers first.
“Knowing what opportunities CA would have for me and my inclination for numbers, that was at the forefront of what I thought would set me up [for the future],” he says.
|CFO South Africa has partnered with CAConnect/Milpark Education to bring you a special instalment highlighting the chartered accountants (CAs) who are making an impact in their respective industries and the country. Find out how they are leading change in this monthly series of interviews.
Christiaan studied accounting and finance at the University of Stellenbosch. He completed his articles at PKF Cape Town, where he obtained his CA(SA) qualification.
The initial concept of JOBJACK started when Christiaan realised the need in the entry-level space for an easy-to-navigate system, which ensures that everyone, regardless of their background, has access to quality employment opportunities.
He adds that what started as a dream between him and his partner, Heine Bellingan, quickly became a reality after he completed his articles at PKF Cape Town in 2018, where he spent three years gaining accounting experience.
Fresh out of his CA article training, Christiaan shares how he had to put to work the skills he garnered during his time at the accounting firm by managing his time. He adds that keeping himself knowledgeable and managing budgets and forecasting made way for the company’s launch in 2018.
“Articles ingrained in me, from a budgeting and deadline perspective, to manage my time super well. This in-turn helped in figuring out that the company was something we could see succeeding (budgeting) and we could work hard enough to make it happen (time),” he says.
JOBJACK provides an easily navigable online platform, empowering entry-level job seekers to effortlessly explore job listings, submit applications, and establish connections with prospective employers.
“This not only streamlines access to job opportunities but also significantly influences the younger generation, bridging the gap between them and potential employers, ultimately paving the way for a more promising future,” he shares.
For Christiaan, the path he has taken towards entrepreneurship was a brave one, because “nowhere during studies or articles did I find any drive or motivation to start my own business. It’s not something that was taught or even encouraged, during school – it is just not touched on at all,” he says.
He adds that his passion for motivating people was the driving force behind his journey towards entrepreneurship. JOBJACK, operational for five years, currently employs almost 50 people.
His passion for people earned him the Influence Award in the 2022 SAICA’s Top-35-under-35 list – a competition that acknowledges and promotes CAs(SA) under the age of 35 who are making a remarkable difference.
“What led to the recognition and winning the influence category was due to the impact that JOBJACK is making. We are placing over 1,000 people per month into opportunities, we have helped sign up and expose more than two million job seekers to opportunities,” he says.
He adds that the recognition by SAICA motivated him and his team to continue doing the hard work they are doing to continue being part of the unemployment solution in the country.
JOBJACK has recently also been awarded the Future of Work Startup of the Year by Startup Club ZA and has just closed a fundraising round of R45 million to expand its growth in South Africa.
Eager and willing
Christiaan says the experience taught him to enjoy the process involved in becoming the professional that he now is.
“I recall reminding myself that my current circumstances (during his articles) were an essential stepping stone for my future success. I consciously tried to embrace my present and excel in it fully."
For about three or four months, he started each day by affirming: ‘Today, I’m going to excel as the best accounting clerk in the world.’ Surprisingly, within just a month or two, I began to feel this way genuinely. Although in all honesty, I certainly was not the best clerk by a long shot."
“I found immense satisfaction in my work because I wholeheartedly immersed myself in it, whether it seemed mundane or challenging. I recognised that every task had a personal significance, contributing to my growth and progress,” Christiaan says.
Christiaan proudly shares that not only has he overcome the challenges of launching and growing his company, but he is also achieving remarkable feats such as recently successfully summiting Mount Kilimanjaro. This experience not only tested his physical endurance but also challenged his mindset, resulting in an adventure he thoroughly enjoyed.
While work-life balance is not always possible, “it’s all about time management and prioritizing” he says. When he is not working, Christiaan enjoys spending time with his family and has a passion for the outdoors, including surfing and hiking.
This CAs Leading Change Series interview is proudly brought to you by CAConnect/Milpark Education.