Thandeka Meslane, Acting CFO at EPPF, discusses gender equality in Finance

Thandeka Meslane, Acting CFO at EPPF, discusses gender equality in Finance

Written by Staff Writer

Aug 16, 2021

By Charndré Emma Kippie

 

Born in East London, Thandeka Meslane – who is the Acting CFO at Eskom Pension and Provident Fund (EPPF) – holds a BCom Honours degree, and is a Professional Accountant registered with SAIPA. She is an experienced Risk Specialist, with a demonstrated history of working in the financial services industry, and is highly skilled in Mutual Funds, Risk Management, Investment Management, Derivatives, and Financial Analysis. 

With her new role, she has established herself as a strong finance professional with an Advanced Diploma in Accounting Sciences, from the University of South Africa (Unisa). 

 

What got you into the field you’re currently in?

Accounting came naturally to me, I loved working with numbers. It’s something that I was just good at from a young age. So, it was the obvious choice for me. I’m also very passionate about developing and motivating people; I have also wanted a career that will allow me the opportunity to achieve that hence advancing my career towards people management and leadership.

 

What excites you the most about your role?

It’s the diversity, no day is ever the same. You are tackling different challenges every day from investment accounting, procurement, risk management, team dynamics as well as strategic engagements with the executive team. The engagements with various external stakeholders in various industries like banking, investment service sector, and engagements with regulators make my role exciting. There are ample opportunities for learning and impacting change no matter how small.

One of the most exciting things for me is the rapid speed of technological advancements in the finance industry, we are shifting towards technology. It excites me to be part of the finance revolution. Having to consider the various opportunities in the market for process optimisation through investments in IT.

 

In what ways do you think your organisation is enhancing the South African economy?

Our main aim is to ensure our members retire comfortably. EPPF is the custodian for savings, we get to allocate capital to infrastructure investments and other industries that have a positive impact on SA’s growth and employment. We also get to empower the financial industry by allocating to asset managers.

  • EPPF has been instrumental in driving transformation in the asset management industry, in fact, this is one of the drivers in everything that we do.
  • EPPF plays a role in skills development through our internship program; we also offer learnerships and we’ve been running a SAICA training program since 2017.

 

Do you think your field is diverse in terms of gender equality? 

I don’t think we are there yet, even though progress has been made there is still a lot to be done to bridge the gap between the genders. Research still indicates that males tended to occupy more senior positions within organisations resulting in them performing more complex, challenging tasks, and earning higher salaries. It also shows males earned higher salaries than females, even though they worked similar hours.

However, it was exciting when Ms. Tsakini Maluleke, was appointed to hold the position of Auditor-General of South Africa, the first woman in the organisation’s 103-year history. That sent a very strong message that things are moving in the right direction regarding gender equality in finance even in the public sector. Women are increasingly getting executive roles in Finance.

 

What are your top 3 tips for ensuring the success of women in your field?
  • Always leave a personal mark, whatever task is in your hands. It must tell a story about you.
  • Discover your true potential early in your career. Never stop learning, be intentional about furthering your studies; be clear about what you want the qualification to do for you.
  • Play to your strength, do what comes naturally to you. Never forget your potential lies in the arena of your God-given talent.

 

What have been some major obstacles in your career, as a woman, and how did you overcome them?

My biggest challenge was to find my voice in a male-dominated environment. I never felt I knew enough about myself so the negative voice in my head was so loud. I had to learn to silence it.

walking into a career without a clear vision and plans. The fact that I was in Finance and I was not pursuing the CA SA route at some point it felt as if I’ve reached a dead-end.  With the help of my coach, I realised that the CA route is not the only path to success in Finance. I can still have a fulfilling career without it.

 

What are your goals for the future?

To build world class investment and finance operations at EPPF, using the best technology like blockchain and RPA. It’s good to keep pace with technology and automation which will assist us in delivering member centricity through operational excellence.

To drive and deliver on some of the cost-saving strategies and deliver a clean audit in the next 3 months or so.

On a personal level, one of the key goals is to complete a Master’s degree in finance in the next 18 months.

I’m planning to start a mentorship program for young people entering the corporate world, in the next 12 months. This I’ll do privately during my spare time; I already have people I’m mentoring. It’s a matter of formalising it.

 

What important books have you read?

As a woman of faith, the most important book I’ve read must be my Bible. Besides the bible, the following three books are the ones that had the most impact on me.

  • Good to Great – James C. Collins
  • Seven Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen Covey
  • Equal But Different – Dr. Judy Nxasana

 

What advice do you have for young women entrepreneurs who aspire to work in your field?

The industry is small, it’s important to have a strong personal brand. The field is broad with vast career opportunities, find your sweet spot and be an expert in your chosen area of specialisation. Be curious, never be complacent, it’s important to keep learning. Find a good mentor, it’s a tough industry to navigate.

 

Do you have a special message for women across South Africa as we celebrate Women’s Month? 

It’s a quote by Marian Anderson “You lose a lot of time, hating people.” There’s always a connotation that we are our own worst enemies. This Women’s month let us be intentional about being kind to one another, finding joy in supporting each and lifting other women.

 

 

*For more, check out our bumper 16th edition of the Standard Bank Top Women Leaders publication on Issuu – Digital Publishing Platform – here

*Stay up to date with all the latest on Top Women in SA, by signing up to the Standard Bank Top Women newsletter – here

 

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