How Motus’s Uvasha Ragunanund used failure as a stepping stone to success

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How Motus’s Uvasha Ragunanund used failure as a stepping stone to success

Feb 11, 2024 | Interviews

Uvasha Ragunanund (née Singh) is a group finance executive at listed company Motus Holdings Limited. She speaks to Financial Minds Magazine about her career journey, what makes her tick and her definition of success.

What exactly do you do as group finance executive?

I handle all reporting requirements including consolidating financial information from our divisions in South Africa, the UK, Australia, Asia, and the rest of Africa. My office is the go-to location for group financial information for various departments including group investor relations, group treasury, divisional CFOs and the offices of the CFO and the CEO. I work very closely with the group auditors and our JSE sponsor.

I also head the team that compiles the group annual financial statements for auditing and publishing and ensure that we comply with the requirements of IFRS and the JSE. My team and I are responsible for the monthly consolidation of the group financial results and the budgeting and forecasting of the group information.  Lately we have been quite busy with the implementation of IFRS 17 for our financial services division and our auditor rotation.

How many people do you have in your team and what is your management style?

I have a team of nine including eight chartered accountants and a Hyperion manager. My management style involves being hands on but not to the extent of micromanaging my team. It is a combination of working closely with them and working away from them so that they develop the wings to fly. I also join them in the trenches; if they need to work overtime, I will also be here to help get things done together.

I love working with this young, talented, and dynamic team.

What do you like most and what do you like least about your job?

I like that I learn something new every day. In the 12 years I have been with the group, we have gone through amalgamation of companies, unbundling from Imperial Holdings Limited and separately listing as Motus Holdings Limited. There have also been several significant acquisitions which I have played a critical part in. It is really exciting, and I believe I would not get the same experience if I worked elsewhere, and I am truly blessed for these experiences. The job is challenging but exciting. It is however very deadline driven meaning we are often under pressure to deliver within tight timeframes.

 How do you handle the pressure?

I plan well in advance this enables me to be calm when the pressure sets in as I am prepared. This is something that I as a manager have engraved in my team. And this is now our culture of the team.

What other strategies have been behind your success at the relatively young age of 38?

We did not have much growing up in Phoenix township in KZN. My mother was a machinist, and my father was a carpenter. They didn’t matriculate and wanted better for their children, investing everything in our education. Consequently, I worked extremely hard with the intention of giving them a better life. I emerged as one of the top students at matric and was given academic awards by the department of education and I was also admitted to the Golden Key Society when I completed my accounting studies at UKZN. So hard work has stood me in good stead. This has been my secret for success at Motus. The passion I have for what I do, and my hard-working nature have been rewarded over the years.

How do you define success?

I believe success is having the feeling of accomplishment in both your professional and personal life. This happens when I am able to have the things I so desired and strived while growing up. I feel successful when I have the ability to support other people financially and emotionally including colleagues, family and friends.

How about failure? When have you failed and what did you learn from it?

After getting my degree, I had to start working to pay off my student loans. This meant that I pursued my honours degree part time which was very difficult. I failed at my first attempt, and it was terrible given that I had always been a top student academically. The lesson learnt is that failure is a stepping stone to success and you should never see it as the end. When I pursued my honours for the second time, I had a better understanding of things that I had come across the first time which helped me pass. I also felt very inadequate when I finished articles and the audit firm let go of many of us. I spent many months looking for a job and only got employed by AMH six months after moving to Johannesburg.  This was the best career decision I made. In my first role, I was given 12 consolidation packs to do, and I had no idea how to do it. I worked extremely hard to understand them such that today I can handle 500 packs without any issues.

How do you spend your time out of the office?

I married my high school sweetheart Ashveer and together we have two fur babies – English bulldogs. Because I work so hard, I dedicate any time I have out of the office in spending time with them. I couldn’t be where I am without the support of Ashveer; it takes a strong man to put up with a woman who is often non-existent due to her job. He has made my career progression so easy, and he has motivated me when I felt like I couldn’t carry on. We have had great highs together like our first cars, first home, first international vacation, and some lows like the deaths of my mum in 2012 and my dad in 2015.

Uvasha’s favourites

Dream car – ‘Mercedes A250.’

Restaurant – ‘11th Floor in Bedfordview is the expensive choice and Nandos the cheaper one.’

App – ‘WhatsApp because it enables me to communicate with family members both near and far.’

Hobby – ‘Over and above spending time with my boys – Ashveer and the fur babies – I listen and dance to Bollywood music. I also love to cook Indian meals which is what my sisters and I did for my parents while they worked.’

Destination – ‘I love traveling so much so that we often do two destinations at a time like Dubai and New York. My favourite destination is the Maldives, its simply amazing!’

Meal – ‘Lamb curry, rice and salad.’

TV Series – ‘Big Bang Theory. I have re-watched the seasons many times and always laugh all the way through.’

 

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