Botswana’s first BICA graduate took a gamble and it paid off. She sacrificed all comforts and even took more papers than was expected and now Whitney Kalaote is in a class of her own. The world is her oyster and it would seem nothing will stop her from soaring even higher. KEITEBE KGOSIKEBATHO reports.
When she enrolled for a Botswana Institute of Chartered Accountants (BICA) qualification back in 2011, 27-year-old Whitney Kalaote had no idea that four years down the line she would be paraded before a room full of ‘very important people’ (as she puts it ) and be named Botswana‘s very own first BICA graduate. Hard work, bravery and sheer daring spirit saw Kalaote graduating ahead of a horde of other enthusiastic students who just like her vied for the localised version of chartered accounting qualification which can see one being recognised internationally. The life of a young working adult is ever busy but it’s even more hectic when one now works for an audit firm. As it was Kalaote already had her plate full, but not the one to give up on her dreams, she enrolled for the qualification nonetheless. She admits it wasn’t an easy one.
Work, school balance
She first of all had to strike a balance between work and her studies. “Although my bosses were supportive, I was afforded no exceptions just because I was studying. I had to deliver just like anybody else,” she said. But on the other hand her studies too needed just as much attention. This now meant she had no social life - the little free time she got from work she used for her studies. Her two little brothers, who are also students, were just as supportive. According to Kalaote, whenever they saw her studying they would do likewise just to keep her company. Her father was the pillar of her strength and kept on reminding her to persevere whenever she felt like giving up. Her mother had to take a lot of bullets for her whenever her absence from family events provoked one inquisitive relative to inquire about her whereabouts.
At the end of it Kalaote managed to finish her 15-paper qualification by going against what people thought was daring and risky – taking a paper more in one of her last semesters. “Everybody thought it was too risky but I did it nonetheless because I felt confident that I had done enough work to conquer,” she said. Kalaote said the challenges she faced during the course of her studying were not unique to her. Because this was a first, even the lecturers at times were not sure of what to do. She, however said through perseverance, hard work and determination she managed to hold on even when others choose to quit along the way. When she did her final paper, it was just her and another male student, and as fate would have it, she managed to graduate ahead of him.
Currently she works as a senior auditor at Pricewatercoopers (PwC) in Gaborone and will like to grow more professionally. This, she said, is the reason why she will hold back on her MBA plans for a year just so she maybe reach the manager level. With the BICA qualifications under her belt, the world is her oyster and it would seem nothing will stop her from soaring even higher. She is happy that her success not only enabled her to be a chartered accountant but gave the local financial market hope that indeed a BICA qualification was not an unattainable dream. Following the passing of the Accountants Act 2010, the Botswana Institute of Chartered Accountants (BICA) introduced its own professional accountancy qualification, the BICA qualification, with effect from April 2011.
BICA (with the support of the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning and the World Bank) entered into a twinning arrangement with one of the world`s leading professional bodies, The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), to facilitate the development of the Botswana professional accountancy qualification. The qualification aims at ensuring that all newly qualified chartered accountants have the technical and professional skills to begin their career and from which to build their on-going professional development.