Onke Binase from Sage on being CEO one day

Highly motivated and a pursuer of excellence, Onke Binase talks about her career and future goals.

Cape Town-born Onke Binase showed a knack for numbers from an early age and when it was time to choose a degree, accounting was the “next logical step”. But it was only when she started working that she discovered a passion for management accounting.

She then pursued financial planning and analytics, which lead to her current role as a financial planning & analysis manager (FP&A) for Africa, the Middle East, and Asia Pacific at Sage. Sage is a market leader for integrated accounting, finance, HR, and payroll systems.

As an FP&A Manager, Onke’s responsibilities include financial reporting, strategic planning, provision of insights that drive decision-making, finance business partnering, data consolidation and variance analysis.

“I have my finger in almost every jar at work and we are currently busy with a process improvement drive. Our main project right now though, is called Einstein. It is a very exciting time as we are transforming the business from a traditional “on-premise” software company to a Software as a Service (SaaS) business and introducing and embedding SaaS relevant key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics into the organisation.”

She enjoys the diverse nature of her job and says that Sage offers a dynamic space for its employees.

“No two months are the same because the business faces different challenges and opportunities and needs answers to different questions throughout the month. I love the ‘above and beyond’ approach of the executive committee to make Sage a great place to work and the knowledge that the work we do helps this business to not only meet, but exceed its KPIs, whilst maintaining a strong competitive advantage in an ever-changing space such as technology and software engineering.”

Their chief financial officer (CFO) is Jordaan Burger. Onke is the second in command and they enjoy a close working relationship. Says Onke:

“I have learned from Jordaan how important it is to get out of our ‘number-crunching’ brain and to tell the story, that way we provide useful information that lands and has an impact. Jordaan likes to ensure that we grow our brand within the organisation by continuously building credibility and positioning ourselves as trusted advisers and partners to the business.”

Workplace values
Onke believes in building solid relationships in business and she feels strongly that one should not always pursue perfection (as that is not always attainable), but rather excellence. “Excellence is non-negotiable, and we should be proud of the work that we do.

“Pursuing excellence has always been my motto in life. One should stay true to who you are with your integrity intact. If you want to have a long and successful professional life, you should always maintain your integrity, associating and working with companies that share your values.

“As a leader of a team, I am a very big proponent of collaboration and building unified teams that highlight the strengths of every individual contributor.”

CFO? No, CEO
Being a CFO would be a career-defining moment for Onke, but it would only be a step closer to her end goal. “With my love for the commercial side of business and making decisions that propel the organisation and its people forward, I have more of an inclination and goal to one day be CEO. CEOs are often initially CFOs. I think that a CEO with a strong financial acumen to supplement his or her solid business and commercial operations knowledge is a force to be reckoned with.”

Mind and body
Onke is very health conscious and enjoys exercising, whether it is hiking outdoors or lifting weights indoors.

“I am generally a cardio gym fanatic, but I have recently picked up weightlifting, which is challenging but enjoyable. I find building physical strength does wonders for one’s mental strength, which is a plus when navigating the multinational corporate space. I enjoy swimming, the occasional golf session and just making memories and spending time with loved ones.”

She believes in a mind-body balance and is a fan of motivational books. “I also listen to a lot of podcasts and corporate content, especially on how a woman can successfully navigate the corporate space. I recently read Indra Nooyi, the former CEO of PepsiCo’s autobiography My life in full. She writes candidly about the challenges and sacrifices of women in the corporate world.

“I like to build up my toolbox to be able to manage challenges in the workplace without losing myself and my femininity, while trying to tackle the world of tech, which has been predominantly a male run space from big tech with FAANG (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and Google) to other large and medium enterprises across the globe.”