BACKSTORY: EY Africa’s Stephen Ntsoane
We question Stephen Ntsoane, Assurance leader at EY Africa
What’s your one top tip for doing a deal?
Ensure that you understand what the other party wants and what you want out of the deal. Understand their values and what they stand for.
What was your first job?
As a student, I worked as porter at a five-star hotel on weekends and holidays.
How much was your first pay cheque, and how did you spend it?
I was paid an hourly rate, but probably about R2,000 in my first month, including all the tips I made. I think I gave some to my mother and bought myself a new pair of sneakers.
What is the one thing you wish somebody had told you when you were starting out?
Some of the most important decisions about your life and future are made when you’re still very young. Have mentorship early in your life.
If you could fix only one thing in SA, what would it be?
Higher education funding. We need to find a solution for this issue and stabilise our higher education system.
What’s the most interesting thing about you that people don’t know?
When I was about 11, my father, who worked as a librarian for a firm of auditors, took me to his office on a weekend and introduced to me to his colleagues and "superiors", who were partners. That day I decided I wanted to be a CA and become a partner. In short, I wanted to be my dad’s boss.
What is the one investment you wish you had made, or made earlier?
I think saving in general is something we take for granted when we’re younger; I wish I’d started saving earlier to take advantage of investment opportunities.
What is the hardest life lesson you’ve learnt?
Procrastination is a thief of time and can derail your progress; never delay to tomorrow what you can achieve today.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
That you always need to move with speed to get ahead. Sometimes it takes reflection and clarity of thought to achieve the best outcome, and this can take some time.
Was there ever a point where you wanted to trade it all in for a different career? And if so, what would that career be?
I’ve been very fortunate to have worked in different parts of our firm, which has provided me with diverse experiences. I think for this reason I’ve never thought of changing my career.
If you were President Cyril Ramaphosa, what would you change, or do, tomorrow?
Allocate more funding towards education and fix our health-care system
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