Marileen says the route to where she is today started when she was still in grade eight and she just fell in love with accounting. Even at that young age, she dreamt of being a chartered accountant and made a conscious decision to make this her goal and to work towards it
If the vision is clear, the how-to will be invented
MARILEEN PRETORIUS, a chartered accountant and registered auditor, is an external audit associate director for KPMG Durban, and is part of the leadership team. She maintains responsibility and oversight of the external auditing division leading a team of audit professionals, providing assurance to shareholders, financiers, and third parties.
Marileen says the route to where she is today started when she was still in grade eight and she just fell in love with accounting. Even at that young age, she dreamt of being a chartered accountant and made a conscious decision to make this her goal and to work towards it. "In the end, lots of hard work, perseverance, and dedication were required, as the road to becoming a chartered accountant is a long and hard one, involving studies and articles that many give up on," she reflects.
Along the way, Marileen received significant input into her professional life from 'the great leaders' at KPMG. Since it is a learning environment, she can always discuss issues with fellow professionals. Marileen is grateful that she has benefitted from the mentoring and coaching she received from people who had crossed her path.
Marileen admits KPMG has gone through tough times, but she is committed to working with the leadership team to rebuild the firm, showing the world who they really are and restoring their public image.
Since moving from East London to the Durban practice during 2018, Marileen has been embraced by the partners like a family member. She added, "I would not have been able to achieve what I have without the support of my family - a committed husband and my two children - as well as my circle of amazing friends." Marileen also gives credit to her team for helping her to function effectively.
Marileen's biggest inspiration in life came from her parents who have been married for 49 years. "They are an example of what can be achieved when a couple works together." Her father was in the SA Defence Force, and he taught her to work hard, be loyal and persevere. She values his professionalism and 'can-do' attitude. He taught her: 'If the vision is clear, the how-to will be invented', and she often reminds herself of this mantra.
Her mother was 'a stay-at-home mom' and the backbone of the family. They often moved between cities due to her father being transferred, and her mother always supported him, ran the household, and raised the children. Her mother has been helping people in the community as long as Marileen can remember and her mother's unwavering faith has helped the family through difficult times, keeping them all close to this day.
Supporting people's progress
In reflecting on the approach of men and women to business, Marileen does not believe that there should be differences. The accounting profession has been male-dominated in the past but has recently grown and developed into an environment where men and women can be successful. "The diversity brought by different genders strengthens teams, and the different qualities of the genders, if used together, contribute to overall success," she explains.
However, Marileen enjoys supporting the progress of women in business. She was involved with the Business Women's Association in East London, providing businesswomen with professional support. She played an active part in the "Coca Cola 5by20 project", mentoring and empowering women entrepreneurs working in rural communities. Most of the women did not have accounting knowledge, and it was fulfilling for Marileen to share her knowledge, teaching them about financial records, bookkeeping, and general financial principles. She enjoys KPMG as a training environment where coaching and mentoring are offered, and finds it fulfilling to help people learn and grow.
Being more than your job title
Marileen is happy with her accomplishments and where she is, yet adamant that it is far from the end of her journey. She believes, "A job title does not reflect who you are, or what you have accomplished. One's values are more important". She tries to leave any place better than it was when she found it.
One of her aspirations is for her teenage children to grow up anchored in their faith, able to handle life's challenges successfully and become responsible adults contributing to society.
She comments, "A work-life balance is becoming increasingly difficult in a fast-paced world where immediate results are demanded." For her, the quantity of time available to spend with the people you love and doing things you value is less important than the quality of such time and being present in the moment.
As a family they have regular breakaways and participate in Parkruns over weekends, helping them to stay connected. She feels fortunate to have a good circle of friends, and they have an annual 'women only' event. She believes it is important for her as a woman to make enough time for herself, do something she loves and get recharged to be the best she can be.
If she could give advice to her younger self, it would be not to take life so seriously and stress less. She would encourage herself to take more chances and constantly look for ways to diversify, innovate and be prepared for changes, "the only constant in life". She would implore herself to value every day and spend it doing the important things with the people who matter most to her.