Group FM Busisiwe Nteyi explains the quest from zero to competence

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Group FM Busisiwe Nteyi explains the quest from zero to competence

Mar 12, 2024 | Interviews

Raised by a teacher who enforced academic excellence, Busisiwe Nteyi boasts a flawless academic record, never faltering in any academic course. It was during her mother’s time pursuing a master’s degree at the University of Western Cape that Busisiwe decided to pursue her educational journey at the University of Cape Town (UCT). Initially, she was set on pursuing engineering because she had secured a bursary from the renowned company Murray and Roberts for this field.

However, Busisiwe’s plans took an unexpected turn when her accounting teacher introduced her to the concept of becoming a chartered accountant, a profession previously unknown to her. ‘I researched and discovered that most directors and CEOs of listed companies in South Africa are CA’s. This convinced me to swap my career choice, and I enrolled at UCT for a Bachelor of Business Science (Finance) in 2003,’ she recalls.


Although she has always excelled academically, Busisiwe encountered difficulty obtaining her driver’s license, but she finally succeeded on her fifth attempt. The struggles resulted from teaching herself to drive because her mother believed Busisiwe was smart enough to figure things out independently. She only got the licence after accepting she needed help and went to the driving school at UCT to learn K53.

Busisiwe encountered similar despair later in her career when she was twice retrenched, first at South African Breweries (SAB) in 2017 and then at Eazi Access two years later.

‘Retrenchment is a difficult process, and I have experienced first-hand what millions of South Africans endure. In my case, having the CA (SA) qualification gives me comfort that I will eventually get another job. Many South Africans may not be that fortunate; losing a job can sometimes mean the end of their careers, and they still deal with the pressure of providing for themselves and their families,’ she laments.

Busisiwe lost her job at SAB when AB InBev acquired the company. This eventuality saddened her because she loved everything about being an executive assistant at the company.

‘SAB changed the trajectory of my life. It was the ‘FMCG university’ where I could develop leadership, communication, and team management skills in a dynamic, complex and often exciting environment. It was an excellence-driven organisation where we had to pursue the best or nothing. There was never a dull day; you could be at a sales conference in Johannesburg on Wednesday, then sweeping the floor at a depot in the Free State the following day and at a strategy session in Cape Town on Monday,’ Busisiwe explains.

Complexity and autonomy

The psychometric analysis that Busisiwe underwent at SAB revealed two things about her. Firstly, her sense of achievement comes from becoming a better version of herself. For this reason, her work needs to have a level of complexity that challenges her. Secondly, she thrives in an environment that affords her autonomy. This is one aspect she enjoys in her current role as group finance maanager at Merafe Resources.

‘The financial director, Ditabe Chocho, is a leader who explains what he wants and lets you deliver it on your own. Problem-solving on my own is something I thrive at,’ Busisiwe says.

Gary Cope was another of Busisiwe’s previous bosses who used a similar approach. He was the financial director at Nautic Africa when Busisiwe was head of finance for eighteen months until November 2014. After pursuing her articles at Deloitte and doing two separate secondment stints in the United States, this was her first stint in an environment outside financial services. Between these stints, she worked as a trainee equity analyst for Kagiso Asset Management.

‘Working in asset management was not for me. A career in that space would have been financially rewarding, but I preferred working in industries where I could see and touch real products. Being able to explain to you the process of how an FMCG product gets to market excites me,’ Busisiwe says.

Zero to competence

Working at Nautica Africa gave Busisiwe this opportunity. It was a new company at the time, and she took part in establishing the finance function from scratch, including putting in place processes, systems and controls.

‘Seeing things through from inception to maturation is where I thrive. Going from zero to competence is a metamorphosis that gives me a sense of fulfilment. For instance, I didn’t know how to ride a road bike, but I recently trained myself to do it and cycled from Centurion to Sun City. Setting a goal, figuring it out and then achieving it is my personal and professional approach to life,’ Busisiwe explains.

Busisiwe continues to pursue the academic excellence envisioned by her mother by tackling a Master’s degree in taxation at the University of Pretoria. This will be her second post-graduate qualification after obtaining a Masters in Management from Wits University in 2022.

Busisiwe’s favourites

Car – ‘BRABUS G-Wagon

App –Strava

Pastime – ‘I run marathons, cycle, swim in dams, and am now looking for time to do trail running. I participate in a few race events during the year.’

Holiday destination – Paris


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