Family, Hard Work and Dedication – The Recipe for Success


Graduating summa cum laude is another feather in the cap of Bachelor of Business Science student, Mr Thavashalin Pillay.

The top achiever’s long list of academic achievements includes eight Dean’s Commendations, 13 Certificates of Merits, 30 distinctions and being awarded UKZN’s Malegapuru William Makgoba Scholarship and the UKZN South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) Best Business Ethics Student award in 2019.

‘My father is a mathematician and taught my siblings and I to see the world in numbers, hence my sister is in the information technology sector, my brother is in engineering and I’m in finance,’ said Pillay.

‘My family and I are extremely proud of my achievements. A lot of my time is spent reading novels, a good habit I have developed from my mother. I hope to inspire other students to achieve their goals irrespective of financial challenges; destiny will always find a way,’ he added.

Studying during a pandemic was not the only challenge faced by the family-orientated individual who also had to deal with grieving the passing of his maternal uncle (Mama) and grandmother (Nani). ‘COVID-19 opened my eyes to how unexpected life is and that we shouldn’t take anything for granted,’ he said.

‘During these periods of mourning, I had the full support and understanding of my friends and lecturers which I truly appreciated. I know that my Mama and Nani are proud that I stand as a summa cum laude graduate today.’

Pillay relocated to Cape Town early this year to take up an Advisory Associate position at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

‘I am thankful that my honours degree taught me to understand the functioning of the business world. UKZN strategically designs its modules to ensure students fully understand the backbone of each concept the “old fashioned” way before teaching the more simplified ways due to technological advancements and modern programmes. This enables me to stand out in the workplace.’

One of my fondest childhood memories is visiting the Asherville Library every week with my mother, this small act has developed the solid foundation on which the rest of my life was built; thus, I always encourage parents to start good reading habits in their children from a young age if they wish for a prosperous future society.

Words: Thandiwe Jumo

Photograph: Abhi Indarajan