By Charndré Emma Kippie
Lerato Pule is a highly motivated energetic individual who is driven by passion to sustain and create value through making a difference in people’s lives, business world, and overall community. A qualified Chartered Accountant (CA(SA)) with a BCom Honours in Accounting and over 16 years’ demonstrable experience in Financial-Business Management experience at Operational and Strategic level in various organisations.
Lerato’s skills and knowledge include embedding commercial business management for strategy execution and performance improvement, exposure to various operating models and a deep understanding of integrated business models from strategy, finance, business process and risk & compliance perspective. She believes in the new age of innovative housekeeping of the finance arena keeping process digitisation and automation of the business at the forefront of execution.
Lerato has Industry exposure in the following: Financial Services, Oil and Gas, Retail Banking and Telecoms & IT, she has the ability and experience to lead and manage multi discipline teams, departments and multiple functions in challenging and diverse environments and still yield the desired objectives. She is a proactive team player with excellent multi-level communication and strong problem-solving skills. Her value systems are rooted in integrity, authenticity, growth and sustainability.
Lerato loves investing her energy in family, passionate about coaching and mentoring and playing a significant role towards sustainable businesses. She leads her day to day based on simple principles: Being impeccable and authentic in her word, never taking things personal willingness to constantly learn and evolve with care, trust and love anything is possible.
What got you into the field you’re currently in?
My first exposure to the profession was via my aunt who was a mathematics and accounting teacher at the time. She was advancing her studies towards the CA(SA)profession. She told me that there were only 10 Black (CA)SA in South Africa and out of the 10 only 2 were female. Knowing myself and how I thrived in situations that are considered impossible by most, I then decided that’s the career that I wanted. Also, I was very good in Accounting, Economics and Business Economics at school and that gave me the confidence that this career is for me. Not forgetting to mention that at the time the career guaranteed for a black person at the time financial security, as I was taught from a young age, “…a black child’s future is only guaranteed to be better if they are equipped with the right set of skill and knowledge…”, as some of us didn’t have access to some of the privileges, that others had.
What excites you the most about your role?
I’m able to touch all areas of the business and be the financial enabler for the operations to execute and deliver on our strategy. Also building teams that are formidable and sustainable ensures that they have the right tools to execute even without me as a leader being present. I also enjoy the different characters that I meet along the way, some help me grow in ways that I couldn’t have imagined through testing my resilience as a woman and a professional. I see my role as the financial strategy executor and keeping the governance process in place to ensure that we are never found wanting as an organisation and this gives me meaning and fulfilment when I rise every morning.
In what ways do you think your organisation/business is enhancing the South African economy?
We are at the heart of the economy via connectivity and digitalisation of businesses and households. With what we have experienced in the past 2 years, if you are not considering automation and digitisation as an individual or business, you will really be found wanting competitively. I believe we are striving to bring simplicity in the day to day of doing business by just utilising technology and connecting people in different parts of the world.
Do you think your field is diverse in terms of gender equality?
We are not where we should be, but I think we have made quite significant gains. With forums such as African Women Chartered Accountants (AWCA), we have really made the profession easy for women to access but more than anything for women to stay within the profession as we had challenges also earlier on in this journey with the women “brain-drain” in the profession.
What are your top 3 tips for ensuring the success of women in your field?
I have 4 and they are from a book that I have recently read – The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz:
- Always be impeccable in your word
- Don’t take anything personally
- Don’t make assumptions
- Always do your best, not matter the circumstances
What have been some major obstacles in your career, as a woman, and how did you overcome them?
There have been many, but the one that I want to highlight is the pressure that as women we put ourselves under that we can do it all. That I found out only now in my later years that it is impossible. As women we need the help, we need the connectors, we also need time-out just to breathe and prioritise self-care. We are natural caregivers, and we should not lose that at the expense of wanting to be great against all odds.
What are your goals for the future?
To move into a much bigger portfolio than what I oversee and to create a legacy for upcoming women in my field. Also to positively contribute in building our country as we really strive for consistent excellence in all we do.
What important/life-changing books have you read?
I have read so many books but with the current COVID-19 pandemic and being under lockdown I took up a book by Robin Sharma – The 5am Club, this book is revolutionary. It’s a hard read but as I read through it, I discovered that some of the principles I’m already applying, I just need the structure but more important the self care to execute on it. After this read, I have never looked back.
What advice do you have for young women entrepreneurs who aspire to work in your field?
Anything is possible but be ready for the work and discipline, this field really requires a lot of resilience, self-awareness and just do it attitude. It’s a long journey but mostly worth it.
Do you have a special message for women across South Africa as we celebrate Women’s Month?
My Aunt , who has been a house-executive for most of her parenting life, always said “ the best ideas and relationships are built under a good shade of a tree”, therefore take time to reflect and feel through things. The principle of “the fullness of time” is not a myth it holds true in all aspects.
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