The University of Venda’s Mavis Madzhie talks about goals and giving back


Despite her rural upbringing, pure grit and determination helped Mavis to reach her goals.

She grew up in Vyeboom, a small village in Limpopo where unemployment was rife, but Mavis Madzhie had a dream to study and to be successful. Today she is the director of financial management and reporting at the University of Venda.

Mavis has had a passion for accounting since school and can still recall the time when they started with accounting in secondary level.

“I immediately liked the subject, and it sparked my interest in accounting and business economics. I always loved numbers and it motivated me to register for a degree. I went to the University of Venda where I obtained a Bachelor of Commerce in accounting and furthered my studies with Unisa, obtaining postgraduate diplomas in accounting science and applied accounting sciences,” she says.

She is also currently busy with her final exams to be a qualified CA and would like to complete her MBA afterwards.

It was not an easy journey, though, and there were times when she doubted if she would be able to study and finish her degree.

“When I passed grade 12, I was not certain whether I would be able to pursue my studies because no one at home was working. My father was unemployed, and my mother was a domestic worker. It was difficult to get financial help at that time and my parents had to borrow money from relatives and friends for my registration. The first year was a struggle as I had to work and study hard to get a merit pass. Things got easier when I received a full bursary. I received a sponsorship from the United Nations,” she says.

Career trajectory
Her career kicked off with an internship at the Development Bank of Southern Africa and it was followed by a position as a trainee accountant at the Auditor-General South Africa.

“I did my articles there and got a job as an internal auditor at the Department of Correctional Services in Pretoria. I later worked for municipalities and spent 11 years as the CFO of Thulamela Municipality.

“It was not easy when I started, since there were many legacy issues that required my intervention as the CFO. The municipality got disclaimers for years and I had to put a lot of processes and systems in place. I am proud of the work that I did there. When the municipality performed much better, I knew it was time to move on.

“I worked at the Gauteng provincial legislature for a couple of years before I got the opportunity at the University of Venda.”

Although Mavis received other offers at the time, she was keen to work at the university as she has always felt that she should give back. “I wouldn’t be where I am today if I didn’t get the opportunity at the University of Venda all those years ago,” she says. “I remember what a struggle it was to even pay the administration fee and I see the job at the university as an opportunity to plough back. This is where I got my junior degree, and I just love investing in the place where I started off.”

According to Mavis her role at the university is similar to her job at the legislature as she is responsible for financial planning, which is budgeting and reporting for the institution. “I love this part of my job because that is where one makes an impact in terms of financial planning or budgeting. When the university has a strategy there should be finances to support the strategy. My role gives me the chance to make an impact in supporting the core of the university.

For Mavis, it is a huge motivation that students are their main stakeholders and that these students will one day make an impact in their fields and in the country. Her future goals include making her own impact at the university and to see a lasting result of her hard work.

“I am on the eve of becoming a CA and it will be great to write those four letters after my name. One day I would also like to be on different boards of directors and committees to have a broader impact,” she says.

Mavis mentions that it is fortunate that she has met a wide variety of people throughout the years who mentored her and contributed to her career and life. “I have learnt so much from so many people regardless of their level or age. I have learnt to respect everyone because everyone’s role is important in an organisation. Everyone should work together to reach the organisation’s goals,” she says.

“It is important to see people’s value. I have learnt how important stakeholder management is. It is key to provide support to other departments. I need to know what my stakeholders need and strive to help them better. It drives me to do my best.”

Mavis at home
Her husband unfortunately passed away in 2016 and Mavis is now a single mom of three children. “It can be challenging at times,” she admits. “I do try to do my best to be there for them so that they don’t feel unattended. I try to have a healthy balance between my professional and personal lives.”

Mavis loves relaxing at home with the children and going on holidays with them. Her eldest son is 16, his brother is 14 and she has an 11-year-old-girl.

The eldest is interested in accounting and would like to follow in Mom’s footsteps. His younger brother would like to pursue engineering one day and their sister sees herself as a future lawyer and lecturer. And with an ambitious and hard-working mom, they certainly have the inspiration to achieve their own goals.

Related articles

From small-town beginnings to the C-suite

CFO Barbara Makhubedu learnt the value of support, determination and relationships from a very young age, and uses those same values as she leads finance at Liberty Two Degrees.