In his first half-year as CFO, Polani has been tasked with transforming the AGSA’s strategy.
Polani Sokombela has been the CFO at the Auditor-General of South Africa (AGSA) for seven months now, and explains that it has been a baptism of fire. “The AGSA plays a huge role in South African society and in strengthening the democracy of the country through auditing and I am proud to be making a meaningful contribution to this,” he says.
He stepped into the role on 1 March, during its financial year-end, and at the beginning of the AGSA’s strategic transformation.
“It was quite hectic at the time, but it was exciting to be given the opportunity to oversee the finances of the organisation and to ensure its financial sustainability,” Polani explains.
At the end of April, the AGSA announced that it would be rolling out a new strategy, and Polani’s role is to develop a finance strategy and funding model that will ensure the regulator is able to fund that “bold” strategy.
“The key to the strategy is to ensure our auditors have the tools they need to do their jobs,” he explains. “Our audit software and ERP system are quite outdated, which means a lot of our processes are still very manually intensive. My focus is to ensure the digital transformation of the office, to take it to a new trajectory of embracing technology and investing in tools that will allow our auditors to work more efficiently.”
Along with ensuring that the AGSA teams have the capacity to support the strategy transformation, Polani has also undertaken to develop their skills to deliver value in this new operating environment.
Along with being in charge of the organisation’s finances, he was briefly responsible for overseeing the chief technology officer role until June, when a new CTO was appointed.
Polani has been with the AGSA since 2007, when he joined the regulator as an assistant audit manager. He has climbed his way through the ranks, serving as technical audit manager, senior manager and business executive before taking on his current role.
“It was such a defining moment for the office to have appointed someone that was a product of their training,” he says. “It’s also very inspiring for young people, both in the AGSA and in the country.”
Polani has stepped into the shoes of Bongi Ngoma, who was crowned the 2021 CFO of the Year for her work as the AGSA’s CFO. “Bongi has done an amazing job for the AGSA, and while it’s a lot of pressure to take over from her, it’s also a blessing,” Polani says. “I have spent a lot of time learning from her during the handover process, and I can still draw from her experience and insights today.”