Yondie Metu appointed CFO of dual-listed healthcare investment company

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Yondie Metu appointed CFO of dual-listed healthcare investment company

Dec 28, 2023 | Interviews, News

Background

On 28 June 1984, a little girl was born in Butterworth in the Eastern Cape. Whilst her mother was pregnant, her older brother who was then five asked her to name the child Yondie if it was a girl. They made this her second name, and gave her the first name ‘Aviwe’ which means  ‘their prayers have been answered.’

Yondie Metu’s early education was at Bethel College, which she attended up to Grade 10 before moving to Union High School where she matriculated in 2001. Her mother was a banker while her father owned a funeral parlour. The family’s routines were quite unorthodox, as Yondie and her siblings were often taken to school in hearses which at first frightened her, but she eventually became accustomed to it.

Her father encouraged her to study accounting with the promise that she would make lots of money. ‘I am still waiting for that promise to be fulfilled,’ she laughs.

She attended the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal in 2002, and graduated with a Bachelors degree in accounting in 2004. She moved to Pretoria the following year where she completed a year’s internship at the South African Revenue Service, in the Value Added Tax department. She then went to the National School of Accounting to pursue her honours degree full-time, graduating at the end of 2006.

In early 2007, she joined the Auditor General of South Africa for articles. She did not enjoy the audit environment, and instead switched to Sasol Limited for a training contract which she completed in 2010. She was promoted to Assistant Manager, then later Manager in the finance department and stayed at Sasol until 2015 when she moved to Aveng Limited, taking up the role of Group Financial Manager.

She resigned from Aveng in 2018 to become an independent consultant in financial reporting. One of her clients Edcon, encouraged her to join full time which she did in late 2018, working in reporting and later the property administration division until the company was wound up in 2020. In March 2021, she joined Thebe Investments Corporation as the General Manager of Group Finance, a role she has held until 1 December 2023 when she took up the post of CFO at RH Bophelo Limited, a healthcare investment vehicle listed on the Johannesburg and Rwanda Stock Exchanges.

What have you learnt from working for organisations such as Edcon and Aveng that have had financial challenges?

It was quite the experience witnessing a breakdown in internal controls on a big scale, which is what partially contributed to the collapse. At Edcon, I knew there were problems when I joined, but I was yearning to learn something new. It was kind of exciting to do something different from just traditional reporting, which had become routine in my previous roles. My experience at these troubled companies was that, ‘cash is king’ and you need to protect it. You need to know what your expenses are, and ensure that your financial forecasts are meticulous. You need to know where and when you will get the cash, you need to know  to grow it and you need to know what you will do in instances where you do not have cash, and need to recover. At Edcon, when we started doing this, it was already too late and the gap that was left to fill from our cash shortfall was too wide to overcome.

What personal and professional challenges have you experienced and what did you learn from them?

The biggest challenge I have experienced was the loss of my dad in 2015. It is a pain that doesn’t go away, you just get used to living with it where it doesn’t trigger you as much. Loss is part of life, you only need to come out better on the other side. Some you lose, some you gain,  but the experience is what you need to take away. These experiences have taught me that life goes on and you need to be strong and ride the wave. I have realised that I should focus on what I can do better, as you often cannot change what happens, all you can do is to change your reaction. You need to just pause and reflect on what actions to take and what lessons the experience has taught you to be a better person.

From a work perspective, I have come to learn that you will interact with different personalities, and you cannot expect everyone to think like you. As long as you are aligned with the end goal and objective that needs to be achieved, that’s all you need to be a successful team.

I wear my heart in my sleeve and express myself everywhere I am including the workplace . This is one thing that I found difficult not being able to  express my point of view.

What is your career highlight?

When I qualified as a Chartered Accountant (CA) it was a real big deal. My father was so proud of me, I think he was even happier than I was..

How would you describe your leadership and management style?

I am collaborative but there is also  room and a place for being authoritative. I try and accommodate everyone, but I am aware that if you are too collaborative, you may struggle to reach your goals. After taking input from team members, I may have to say that I hear your views, but I need to make a decision for us to move forward. My leadership style therefore varies between collaborative and authoritative, depending on what the situation requires.

What do you think makes a strategy successful?

It all boils down to having focus. It is important for everyone in a company to know what is intended to be achieved. The company needs to be clear in terms of the vision. If the goal is to achieve R20 billion in revenue for example, the number is outlined from the onset, the time period is set and the steps to be taken to get there are set out. A company should also be brave enough to let go of things that are not working. The strategy should not be fluid, but it should be flexible to react to unforeseen circumstances.

What advice do you have to upcoming professionals?

I advise young professionals to always put their hand up and have a yearning for learning. They should keep asking questions, be inquisitive, be curious and absorb all that you are exposed to. They should also do the work, because  you will be caught out very quickly if you are only pretending to be working hard but are hardly working. I have seen this transpire in my own career; my progress has been the result of attestations of my work by the people I have worked with in different companies and roles.

Tell us one surprising thing about you.

I love music and listen to all kinds of music including mbhaqanga. I was driving with colleagues  and they were surprised that I was playing gospel music in my car. I am spiritual ; when I wake up every morning the first thing I do, is  read my Bible and I attend church regularly, in fact I am going for a two hour prayer meeting after this interview.

I also have a passion for enhancing and enriching education  in rural areas. I have formed a foundation that is donating books to rural schools, and when I eventually retire, my desire is to build primary schools where I come from in the Eastern Cape and other small towns that don’t have good schools. My wish is that they will have well stocked libraries that will foster   a culture of reading.

Yondie’s favourites

Favourite car – A baby blue Aston Martin. And not just any model – the DBS!

Favourite restaurant – I like anywhere where they serve good food, I am not very particular. Tang, Signature … they are all good.

Favourite meal – Anything with meat; be it sushi or mogodu… I am in.

Favourite app – I am not a social media person. I don’t have Instagram, Tik Tok or Twitter. I have a Facebook account that I opened eons ago when I was young, but I haven’t  updated it. So, my favourite app is the Bible app; I use it daily.

Favourite holiday destination – I once toured Europe with friends, and Nice in France stood out. It is a nice small beach town, the food was amazing, the people were friendly, the weather was perfect, and they had white sandy beaches with a clear picturesque blue sea. I would love to visit again!

Favourite movie or series – I don’t watch TV. The only series I can think of that’s worth mentioning is Suits.

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