My story: Yamkela Makupula

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Yamkela Makupula at a conference

Partner, Advisory

Anything is possible at PwC

In 2011 Yamkela Makupula had gotten her ‘dream’ job with a global IT firm and was enjoying the challenges and learning it entailed. Just three months into her new role, however, a curve ball came her way when PwC approached her for help setting up a division in its East London office.

“Everybody advised against taking the PwC job,” she says. “My family and colleagues all pointed out that I was an IT project manager, not an auditor; and that I would be giving up a permanent job for a two-year contract. Basically everybody felt that I wouldn’t cut it in the auditing world.”

Yamkela Makupula image collage

The firm she was working for made her unbelievable counter offers, but she decided she was going to prove to herself that she could do it. She took the job and started as an assistant manager in PwC’s East London office in January 2012.

“I loved PwC from the outset, thanks to the amazing atmosphere. The one person who made a special impression on me was a senior partner and head of the Eastern Cape region. When we were introduced to him as new joiners, I expected him to nod and continue working,” she says. “Instead, he got up and shook our hands and welcomed us. I walked away from that encounter knowing that I would enjoy this firm.”

"I’m in a firm that keeps encouraging my growth and continues to prove to me that I can reach my full potential if I am determined to do so."

Yamkela Makupula, PwC Partner

But then came another curve ball. “The senior manager with whom she was to set up the division was thrown into a family crisis and returned to Port Elizabeth. Two weeks went by without anything really happening,” she says. “I was starting to wonder whether I’d made a mistake after all.”

She quickly remembered why she’d made the move, though, and began researching how to tackle the job on her own. “I told my colleague that I was going to approach some clients and he said that I needed experience in business development before I could do that,” she explains. “When he realised that I was determined, he explained everything to me. It took a huge amount of teamwork, but we won our first client - what an exhilarating feeling!”

Although Yamkela was doing really well, she knew that she needed a mentor. “I asked the senior partner – Jacques Eybers - who had impressed me so much on my first day with his sincerity and wisdom,” she says. “I have grown so well over the past few years, but a great deal is due to the fact that somebody was interested in getting to know me, guide me and walk my journey with me.”

Yamkela pauses for a moment and pays tribute to her parents.

“They laid a solid foundation with the right values, especially instilling the importance of leadership, integrity and hard work in me.”

Yamkela’s growth has indeed been astonishing. She became a manager in 2013, a senior manager in 2014, then an associate director in 2015. She was asked to move to Gauteng in 2016 and made partner in 2017. “I’m in a firm that encouraged my growth and has proved to me that I can reach my full potential if I’m determined to do so,” Yamkela says.

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