Alumni connect - Winter 2019

Winter edition

Welcome to our winter edition of Alumni connect

In this edition we celebrate Women’s Month by catching up with Shirley Machaba, our South Market Area Regional Senior Partner. We will also meet the new Class of 2019, talk ‘trekking’ with alumnus and former PwC CEO (2009 - 2015) Suresh Kana, and how we're giving back for Mandela Day.

In this edition


PwC Alumni reading a book

Latest news

CEO of PwC South Africa, Shirley Machaba

Shirley Machaba grew up in Soweto and Venda and initially intended to study medicine rather than accounting. On registration at university, however, she decided to register for a BCom Accounting after being told that the BSc classes were full. It was a fortunate turn of events, and she has never thought of changing her career because she loves it so much. She attended Venda, Unisa, and Rand Afrikaans University (RAU), and joined PwC in 1996.

Shirley has had several roles during her career, and names her most rewarding as being Chair of the PwC SA Board. In this role she had a helicopter view of the firm, which allowed her to understand the strategy of the firm, including priorities. She had oversight on the implementation of the strategy and understood the impact the firm has on clients, people and surrounding communities.

She rates her greatest career highlight as becoming a partner in 2005 and being nominated to the PwC Global Board to represent emerging markets. The best advice she ever received was that you are your own brand, but that in branding yourself you must be careful not to lose yourself.

She manages to balance her time between work and family responsibilities by multitasking, something that comes naturally to her as a woman. She says that the important thing is to plan and prioritise depending on the agenda of the day, week and month. Where possible, she integrates the two responsibilities to change the work–life balance into a work–life integration.

She comes from a family of seven: her parents, herself and four siblings – three brothers and a sister. She has a son, who is an IT engineer.

She is passionate about coaching and mentoring young up-and-coming leaders to ensure that there is a cohort of future leaders who are ready and confident. Transformation, diversity and inclusion are matters very close to her heart, and she lives by the motto ‘the sky is not the limit’.

The person who inspires her and who has been a role model to her is her mother, who she calls ‘a phenomenal woman’.

She enjoys exercising, travelling, jogging, watching movies and listening to good music in her spare time. Her favourite song is ‘Dare to Leave’, by Andrea Bocelli and Laura Pausini.

She says that the colour that best describes her personality is white, because it symbolises peace and purity, humility, innocence, light, goodness and silence – and is also a symbol of courage, desire, admiration, constancy and respect. Something she bets you don’t know about her is that she is able to start a conversation with a stranger due to her ‘go to market’ role. However, she says that she is naturally an introvert.

For Shirley, gender equality in Women’s Month means equal opportunities, equal treatment and equal pay, and her advice for PwC’s female alumni is the following: ‘Success is a journey and not a destination. There will be stumbling blocks along the way; find the necessary support to realise your dreams. When we fall, we wake up, dust ourselves and move on because we can’t give up. There’s a dire need to address the skills shortage crisis we have. Dedication, hard work and focus will guarantee the sky will not be the limit!’

Meet our Class of 2019

On 1 July, 22 new partners joined our partnership across Africa. As we deliver on our purpose and reimagine our future, we wish all our new partners every success in their new roles.

PwC partners, class of 2019

Our new partners pictured here with Craig West, Africa Governance Board Partner Admissions Chair (front centre) and Elenor Jensen (front right).


Our people

Proud moments

AWCA 2019 awards winners Busi Mathe and Anastacia Tshesane

Congratulations to Busi Mathe, the Chair of our South Africa Governing Board, on being awarded the Emerging Business Leader of the Year, and Anastacia Tshesane, our SMA Transformation, Diversity and Inclusion Leader, on being awarded the Audit Partner of the Year at the AWCA 2019 awards.

CFO Awards logo

PwC was named Gender Icon Firm of the Year at the Standard Bank Top Women Awards, in recognition of the firm's outstanding commitment to transformation, diversity and inclusion.  


PwC won The Graduate Employers of Choice 2019

PwC won the Graduate Employer of Choice 2019 in the Accountancy sector and was named the Aspirational Employer of Choice for 2019 at the SAGEA Awards.



Mandela Day – inspiring change

On 18 July, PwC offices around the country participated in various outreach initiatives for Mandela Day, including collecting new school shoes, assembling teddy bears and organising a mini sports day.

Alumni interviews

We caught up with former PwC CEO Suresh Kana (2009 - 2015) to talk about his passion for trekking.

Former PwC CEO Suresh Kana

Suresh joined PwC in 1976 and left the firm in 2015. He started as a trainee accountant in 1976 and was admitted to partnership in 1985. He served in various roles during his partnership tenure, including: Client Engagement Partner on listed clients, Technical Partner, Assurance Leader, Human Capital Leader, CEO of PwC Southern Africa and CEO/Senior Partner of PwC Africa. He also served on the PwC Global Board, Network Leadership Team and Cluster Leadership Team. 

His love for trekking started as a fascination with mountains as a child, and he became passionate about high-altitude mountain trekking in 2000. He is attracted to the mountains for their beauty, peace and serenity, and has done too many treks to keep track of. He has trekked in Nepal in the Himalayas, including Mount Everest, and also in Peru, Tanzania, Japan, Vietnam and North America.

His most challenging trek was Mount Naya Kanga in the Himalayas, because of its deep snow, menacing ice levels, challenging technical climbing and hidden crevices. After leading the team to High Camp, which was the team’s ambition, he decided to attempt the summit. He was close to summit but unfortunately had to turn back due to his summit time running out. His favourite mountain is Mount Annapurna in the Himalayas because of its absolute majesty.

He takes groups of youngsters on some of these treks, stating that leading teams on mountains is no different from leading in the boardroom: ‘You have to demonstrate leadership, passion, teamwork, excellence and authenticity – all this builds trust.’ To date he has led 58 individuals, male and female, from all walks of life and varying ages on six expeditions into the Himalayas, with a 100% destination success rate.

Clearly passionate about helping others, he says that empowering others is the best form of giving back. He spends at least six months before each expedition preparing, coaching and mentoring the team on a group and individual basis. The team is expected to display commitment and train with him every weekend: ‘The lessons imparted assist and encourage them tremendously in their personal and professional lives. It also keeps me fit!’

He has just completed an expedition in April/May of this year, and his next expedition is planned to be Mount Elbrus in Russia or Patagonia in Chile in 2021.

Suresh balances his time between work responsibilities and these expeditions by good diary management, which enables him to balance his professional, personal, family and community responsibilities. His other hobbies are reading and philately.

Industry news

Delivering Deal value

We are excited to have added a new service offering to our well-established Cape Town Deals team. The team, comprising Shannon Lourens and Nadia Brittz, has joined us from the Johannesburg office, and will be helping our clients to deliver their envisaged deal value.

Contact Shannon Lourens at, should you wish to find out more about this exciting new service.



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Contact us

Claire Heynike

Alumni Lead, PwC South Africa

Tel: +27 (0) 11 287 0566

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