Helesha Naidoo

The month of August is dedicated to acknowledging and celebrating all women. We pay special tribute to more than 20 000 women who marched to the Union Buildings in August 1956.
In acknowledgement, we interviewed a few of our Mazarian trainees across the country. They spoke to us about their inspirations, how they got into the field and much more.
Meet Helesha Naidoo, Trainee Accountant from our Durban office.

We are always interested in learning more about our trainees. Tell our readers more about yourself and the journey in your particular field. 

“When the going gets tough, the tough get going” is an expression that perfectly sums me up. I am a third-year trainee working towards making my CA(SA) dreams a reality and eagerly awaiting that final sign off. I started my articles with Mazars in 2018 whilst completing my CTA through Unisa. Working full-time and studying was definitely a huge adjustment and meant a lot of late nights and early mornings. This has undoubtedly helped me fine-tune my time management skills and helped me understand the importance of having a work-life balance. I successfully completed the ITC in 2019 and will sit for the final APC in December 2020. I was extremely fortunate to have a supportive team, not only at home but also in the workplace, who always encouraged me to push beyond my limits. My articles experience thus far has been such an amazing ride and has built strength and resilience in me that I will carry throughout my career. 

 What attracted you to Mazars? What stood out about the firm? 

To me, the Mazars brand has always been synonymous with respect and diversity. Not only diversity in our people but also our clients. Serving my articles at Mazars has afforded me the opportunity to work with people from all walks of life whilst gaining exposure to larger clients as well as owner-managed businesses. Through this exposure, I’ve taken on new challenges and learned invaluable life skills which have helped me grow both professionally and personally.  

 From your perspective, what makes a great leader? 

I believe that the true mark of a great leader is in her ability to inspire the people around her to be and do better. This can only be achieved through leading by example and diligently motivating growth in others. I think it is important to remember that great leaders are not born, they are made, and it is a role that requires constant learning, being intentional in your decisions and actions, and being open to stepping out of the box when needed. 

List some of your favourite “she-roes” (a female hero) 

There are so many great women who I respect and look up to, but my stand-out she-roe is definitely Michelle Obama. She uses her platform to advocate for worthy causes including poverty awareness, education and women’s rights. She stands firm in her beliefs and uses her position to make a difference in the lives of others. 

Another inspiring she-roe is the Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg, who at just 17 years old has managed to make incredible headway in the world climate crisis. Greta embodies all the qualities of a strong woman and reminds us that no matter how little we think we are, we can still make a huge impact on this world, so long as we are willing to speak up for what we believe in. 

From your experience within your career thus far, do you have any messages for future female graduates heading into the same field? 

Follow your own path, at your own pace, and remember that you are on your own timeline. The road is not always easy but remain focused and committed to your goals and you will surely achieve them. It may seem daunting at first but articles truly are such a great and interesting experience. It is the golden opportunity to gain knowledge in so many different areas of study including audit, accounting, tax and advisory. It allows you to learn a little bit more about yourself and your preferred direction after qualifying. Make the most of it and most importantly, enjoy every step along the way! 

What is the best career advice you have ever received? This could be from a colleague, relative or a lecturer.  

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you will know when you find it.” – Steve Jobs 

My brother shared this quote with me many years back and it has resonated with me ever since. I like to take a step back when making career and life decisions and think about whether I am following the path that will make me content in the long run, or am I just ticking a box.  Never settle! 

Share some of your favourite highlights since starting at Mazars. This could be work-related or even everyday interactions with your office colleagues.  

During my second year of articles, I was asked if I would be interested in joining the Mazars Voice team. Naturally, I jumped at the offer! Being a part of the team has allowed me to make a positive contribution to the well-being of my fellow Mazarians, and countless others through the charity work the firm is involved in. I am very grateful to be able to assist the Mazars Voice team with the organising of charity events and projects that ultimately makes a great impact on the community around us. 

I have also been lucky enough to meet so many wonderful people and form strong friendships at Mazars that makes each day a little brighter.  

Do you feel the COVID-19 pandemic has changed your view on the general work environment in any way? 

The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has given me a greater appreciation for the value of technology in the workplace and has emphasised the importance of effective communication with my peers and clients. It has given me a better understanding of how my peers can support me even in the most difficult of situations. I believe that over the last few months every Mazarian has displayed the ability to adapt to the most extraordinary circumstances and still perform in a manner that produces quality output, and this is an achievement that we, as a firm, can be very proud of. 

How have you maintained focus and motivation in the face of changes brought by the pandemic? Highlight something important during your day-to-day, that helps you cope with certain challenges. 

Working from home definitely comes with its own set of benefits and challenges. It was very important for me earlier on, to structure my day in a way that ensures a work-life balance. I have been supported by my team members and I take comfort in knowing that my seniors are always available when coaching is needed and that junior trainees can be trusted when work has been delegated to them. Admittedly, it is very easy to get caught up in what you’re working on so I take regular 5-minute breaks to make sure that my work responsibilities don’t overshadow my personal well-being.  

Something that has really helped me is having set up a separate workstation at home that I work from during the day. At the end of the day, I am able to close my laptop and leave work-related issues at that desk and mark a close to my workday.  

What do you think the future of audit, tax and advisory looks like in South Africa?  

It is safe to say that the only constant in life changes, and it is no different for our profession, as technological breakthroughs are expected to be a major disruptor in our industry in the near future. I believe that the only way to meet this inevitable change in our industry is to prepare for it. Individuals in our profession have proven, now more than ever, that we are capable of moving away from traditional methods and reinventing ourselves by forming new and innovative ways to provide efficient services to our clients.  

The COVID-19 pandemic is a clear example of our ability to adapt almost overnight whilst continuing to build confidence in society by remaining consistent throughout these uncertain times. We will continue to adapt, reinvent and grow and this will ensure a new and promising future for the profession.