NAEEM ASVAT CA(SA) joined SAICA in 2007 as the regional executive for SAICA Eastern Region, based in Durban. He is responsible for all SAICA’s activities in the region, which comprises primarily KwaZulu-Natal. Prior to joining SAICA, he held the position as senior manager in the Accounting Advisory Services division at KPMG, where he worked for ten years, and trained and qualified as a chartered accountant.
Asvat’s experience includes external and internal audit, forensic investigations, tax compliance and tax consulting as well as various consulting assignments. His career has included a short-term assignment in KPMG’s Manchester office in the external audit division, which comprised conversions from UK GAAP to US GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Practice). He has undertaken International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) conversions in South Africa and Namibia. During his career, he was appointed as a curators’ agent of a transport business, which was seized by the Asset Forfeiture Unit (Scorpions) and was appointed as a chief financial officer for an associate of a listed cellular company.
Asvat believes that his career is successful because of three things: integrity, passion and stepping out of his comfort zone. “To me, integrity is a mark of a man; without it one’s character is left undefined. In light of the changes in the profession, I am going to have to say that integrity holds true for me, as it should for every other profession, and is the most important aspect that I have learned. Second, my passion, for without it, you cannot succeed. And third, I am willing to step out of my comfort zone in order to attain the unattainable.” He added that he is absolutely dedicated and committed to the work that he does, has an immense passion for work and a great desire for making a difference to society within his sphere of influence. Asvat says that his inspiration comes from “savouring the sweetness of success of someone whom I have helped and inspired, be it a member, a stakeholder, a university student or a learner”.
During his professional journey and in the early stages of South African democracy, he, as with other previously disadvantaged individuals found climbing the corporate ladder a serious challenge, having to constantly prove oneself beyond reproach. He commented: “I thrive on challenges and making the impossible possible.” However, having made his way to senior manager, Asvat was head hunted and joined SAICA. This was challenging in the sense that he was catapulted into a leadership position. He was the first non-white person to be appointed in the 99-year history of the Institute, which also had its own set of challenges. “Suddenly, I was thrust in front of 2 200 members, business and government stakeholders with whom I started engaging. We now have more than 4 400 members.” In this regard Asvat says, “My personality profile has been somewhat defined as a catalyst and I am driven to achieve and persevere.”
Establishing the first independent SAICA office in KwaZulu-Natal, and helping to build the SAICA and the CA(SA) brand to be a premier recognised business designation, have been highlights of his career. In addition, Asvat has spearheaded a significant transformation project with the KZN Treasury and guided them to becoming a SAICA Accredited Training office. A major forthcoming project for him is to see SAICA playing a more significant role in shaping economic policies within KwaZulu-Natal.
Asvat comes from a family of five siblings and is happily married and the father of three sons. He credits much of his success to his wife, Fatima, and his mother, who have played very supportive roles in his career. In his free time, he says: “I enjoy the adrenaline stuff – I have gone skydiving (jumping out of a plane at 12 000 feet) and did the highest commercial bungee jump in the world at the Blaukrans river.”
He concludes: “Regardless where you come from, hard work and perseverance will bring you success. I believe that if you knock at the door long enough the door is bound to open.”