Master’s in Accounting a Stepping Stone Towards an Academic Career

Ms Sithandiwe Mdhluli.
Ms Sithandiwe (Stha) Mdhluli.

With aspirations of pursuing a career in academia, South African Revenue Service (SARS) Finance Business Partner, Ms Sithandiwe (Stha) Mdhluli is taking her first step towards that goal by graduating with a Master’s in Financial Accounting. 

‘As a teenager, I was torn between becoming an accountant or a teacher as both my parents were teachers and I look up to them. I chose accounting because I love it but haven’t given up on teaching because I know that I am destined for an academic career. This is what motivated me to pursue this master’s degree as I want to contribute to the academic space as far and much as I can,’ said Mdhluli. 

Through her study titled: Accounting and Finance Professionals’ Perception on the Current State of the Accountancy Profession in South Africa, Mdhluli explored the negative impact the recent accounting scandals had on the image of the accounting profession. Professor Msizi Mkhize supervised the study, which found that the majority of accountants and finance professionals agree in general that they perceive themselves to have a strong knowledge of ethics. 

‘These professionals also perceive their fellow accounting and finance professionals to be ethically responsible. The research also found that being a member of professional accounting bodies also influences the ethical behaviour and professional conduct of accounting and finance professionals,’ explained Mdhluli.

She added that a majority of accountants and finance professionals agree in general that they face a considerable amount of pressure to compromise on ethics. 

‘All the recent accounting scandals have not only negatively affected the profession but have caused a lot of unstableness in society. Therefore, more and continuous research needs to be done in this area as it has a huge impact on the societal perception of the finance and audit profession.’ 

As a wife and mother of three with a demanding full-time corporate job, pursuing this qualification was challenging but also rewarding for Mdhuli. 

‘I was fully focused on my research and my studies for the 18 months which was extremely difficult as I am a mom and wife who is fully committed to these roles… the sacrifices were worth it however. This qualification is already providing more insights into the corporate space where I am. It also involved a lot of reading and research; this experience will carry me through the academic journey I have undertaken to embark on. I am looking forward to also fulfilling my dream to teach students with all the experience and research knowledge gained (through my professional experience and studies).’ 

Words: Thandiwe Jumo

Photograph: Abhi Indrarajan 

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