Tatenda Mavasa, 3D Group of Companies: `Strive for Excellence`

We recently interviewed Tatenda Mavasa from the 3D Group of Companies in Johannesburg. Tatenda has worked with the 3D Group since re-locating to South Africa from Zimbabwe in May 2009. He graduated from Solusi University in Zimbabwe and holds a Bachelor of Business Administration (Finance) Degree.

The 3D Group is a group of companies that supply infrastructure and services to the exhibition, events and conferencing industries. Their services include full event organizing, furniture hire, designing of exhibition stands and graphic design in South Africa and Africa.

What do you enjoy the most about your job and why?
There are many aspects of my job that I enjoy in the Finance and Accounting fields - from Management Accounting to Financial Accounting. However, I mostly enjoy Forecasting and Budgeting and being able to analyze financial information (Ratios etc.), which results in being able to make proper business decisions and recommendations, especially in an environment that is politically and economically volatile. I also enjoy the challenges that come with decision making that can make or break a company in a Macroeconomic environment.


What Projects are you currently involved with and please tell us about them?

Currently I am deeply involved in implementing cost cutting measures and increasing output in order to maximize profit without compromising the standard and quality of our products to our clients. I have devised innovative methods that I have proposed to our buying divisions and am monitoring the use of materials up to the conclusion of the final product. Ultimately I am re-writing the way things were done in the past and putting in place measures to have effective Internal Control Systems. It is an exciting challenge that I was given due to my ability to analyze facts and figures and make sound business decisions based on available information.

Would you say that accurate forecasting and budgeting is still feasible for a financial department in today’s financial markets and how do you deal with the volatility?
Accurate Forecasting and Budgeting has become relatively difficult, though not unfeasible to perform in present day business operations. This is perhaps because of the various Macroeconomic factors that come into play. Having said that, I would like to point out that inflation, for example, is fuelled by factors which South African companies have little or no control over. As such, there is a need for companies, either South African or otherwise, to adapt to the challenges that arise either abruptly or over a period of time in the Business cycle. By putting measures in place it is easier to re-position and cushion against any deviations that may arise. Companies may therefore have to team up with other companies in similar industries across the globe.

How do you think political issues in a country affect the Finance industry in that country?
Being an immigrant myself in South Africa and coming from a country that has had different economic dimensions and pathways, my response to this question is one of experience rather than opinion.
The way or manner that politicians or any other Politically Exposed Persons conduct themselves has a direct impact on the financial industry as it determines how investors, both locally and internationallyrespond. This has a strong impact on how the currency of the country competes or fares with others globally. In the event of political instability the negative impact on the Financial sector cannot be underestimated as it means that investors, who are very critical of economic growth could either reduce their investments or completely pull out of the country which will have a negative impact on the economy, subsequently resulting in the weakening of the currency on the global market, which in turn effects the currency’s purchasing power, competitiveness and ultimately unemployment. Political issues need to be handling carefully for the progress of the economy. Political policies that countries implement need to be carefully thought through, with consultations in order to ensure that investment, both local and foreign, still stimulate growth, arrest inflation and decrease unemployment.

What do you see as the greatest challenge for South African companies in the global economic situation?
I think that the greatest challenges South African companies are facing is the migration of skilled or experienced workers to First world countries, and inflation. This has resulted in production costs increasing and local products becoming more expensive compared to imports. When foreign manufactured products are cheaper than local products it has a negative impact on local brands, and South African companies need to re-position themselves and adjust by implementing effective cost cutting measures, at the same time increasing productivity in order to remain globally competitive.

Which achievement or project in your business career are you most proud of?
I would say that my greatest achievement in my career so far was coming to South Africa, achieving what I have, considering the preference given to employing locals. This has not restricted my career advancement and my quest to be a cut above the rest among finance professionals. I have always believed that for me the sky is not even the limit, but is just a target. I believe the professional attitude that I cultivate from within myself has always, and continues to drive me up the professional ladder. Having worked at Barclays Bank, one of the biggest financial institutions in the world, has molded me and will help me in any industry whose financial division I work in.

Which skill(s) do you think a finance professional should master to be most successful in his work?
Finance professionals need to be first and foremost equipped with the right education to provide them with the principles that lead to understanding good business practices, corporate governance, real financial management knowledge as well as strong analytical skills. Over and above that, the passion and commitment of an individual has to come from within one’s self desire for success, integrity and honesty. Lastly, I think Finance professionals need to keep up to date with financial legislation across the globe so that they can make informed business decisions based on current information.

What is the best advice anyone ever gave you in life?
The best advice I ever got was to “Strive for Excellence”. In this I learnt that doing “good” alone is never enough - we have to strive to do our best in everything we do, whether under supervision or otherwise. By doing this, we find ourselves moving from “Good to GREAT” as God will always reward accordingly.


Who is your role model in life and why?
My role model is my country (Zimbabwe)’s current Finance Minister, Tendai Biti. Although he is a lawyer by profession, he has, since becoming minister in 2009, managed to turn around the economy by arresting inflation to reasonable – ie. single digit figures from the 6.5 sextillion percent (Nov 2008) before he assumed office. His policies have resulted in the general improvement in the lives of ordinary Zimbabweans, economic growth and bringing back investor confidence that had dropped to an all time low. I think Tendai has surrounded himself with people of good financial knowledge and integrity and to me that’s a sign of strong leadership qualities. His ability to listen, deliberate and implement sound economic policies and oversee one of the most crucial portfolios in that country makes Tendai my role model.

What vital piece of advice would you give young ambitious finance professionals?
My advice to young Finance professionals is this: Finance professionals are needed in any form of business and industry. This means that opportunities are available in a wide range of different platforms. One needs to position oneself well in order to take advantage of this virtue and exploit these opportunities. As such, I wish to encourage all young finance professionals out there to take the bull by the horns, to equip themselves, get educated, get into the industry with positivity and, let the sky not be the limit for you, but just a target. It is an exciting industry, a lifeline of all industries that is filled with opportunities and challenges together. A country that does not have knowledgeable finance professionals will find it very difficult to achieve any meaningful positive growth - and as a profession of high integrity, you should never allow that to happen under your watch.

If you also would like to share your ideas with the CFO community, please get in touch with us to arrange an interview with you.Please contact Jurriën Morsch on [email protected].