Getting to Know You – What’s Your Day Job

This is a picture of me receiving my prize at this year’s DealMakers awards

I saw a post with this title over at Jessica Bakkers‘ lovely blog of the same name. You can read it here: https://jessicabakkers.com/2020/08/07/getting-to-know-you-whats-your-day-job/. I thought it was wonderful to learn more about her outside of her blogging and writing persona. I decided I would follow her good example and tell you a bit about my day job.

I am a chartered accountant and it took me six years to qualify which is one year less than the normal time frame for this qualification in South Africa. I did my degree part time through a correspondence university and managed to do my full course credits each year as well as work as an assistant in a video shop. I used to work the afternoon/evening shift from 3 p.m. until 9.30 p.m. and study from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. every morning/early afternoon.

I was fortunate as I won a scholarship for the university after my first year and didn’t have to pay a cent for my second to fourth years at university. This was a great boon as I didn’t need to take a student loan. I was also selected for a part-time bursary at a local college and was able to attend lectures for selected courses I was taking. I really enjoyed being able to attend classes for the more complex subjects like statistics and economics. I also enjoyed being able socialise with other students.

After I finished my degree, I started my articles at a “Big Four” auditing and accounting firm in Johannesburg. I worked full time doing my first year of articles while I did my honours degree through the correspondence university. I successfully completed my honours at the end of that year and went on to take my board examinations during my second year of articles.

I met my husband during my first year of my articles, but I was very diligent and our relationship never impacted on my results or academic performance. I finished all my academics after five years and had all my core work hours by the end of my second year of articles. I was very lucky as the firm let me move to corporate finance at the beginning of my third year instead of completing another year in audit. I was not a big audit fan although my husband is an auditor.

I loved corporate finance and I have been involved in that world ever since. I love deals and transactions. It’s like doing a giant puzzle, you get the picture of what the client wants to do and once you know the end point, you work backwards to get all the pieces in place to build the financial history and the deal “story”. I am fortunate as I have an innate ability to work out what the end result needs to be and to work out how to achieve that result using the existing accounting and legal rules and regulations. Everything I do is strictly above board but I am good at working backwards and juggling the pieces into position.

During my time in corporate finance, I wrote a series of publications about investing in Africa, the African debt market and investing in Africa. These were well received and I learned a lot about writing and publishing. They were fat publications of over 400 pages and covered all the main financial markets and stock exchanges in Africa. I also did comparisons of the African stock exchanges to others around the world and gained a good working knowledge of the exchanges in London, Beijing, Toronto, Australia and New York. I have also worked with a lot of the Euronext exchanges (EU) and the rules and regulations of the SEC (U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission).

I still do a lot of work for various stock exchanges and work predominantly with London and the USA. I am currently also working with Australia which makes for some interesting working hours for me.

So that is a little bit of information about my work life and what I do for all the hours in between my blogging and writing and home schooling.

What about you? What do you do when you’re not blogging or writing? Let me know in the comments.

68 thoughts on “Getting to Know You – What’s Your Day Job

  1. Hi Robbie – thanks for sharing the details of your day job. I always like hearing about other people’s careers. I’ve had a variety of jobs, from working for a hotel company while I went to graduate school at night for my MBA, then working in finance at a manufacturing corporation. I realized I didn’t like finance that much (not like you!) so I started my own business preparing marketing materials and being a freelance copy writer. I put all that on hold while I stayed home to raise our children, and that’s when I started my blog. I returned to the working world five years ago and totally switched careers, first starting as a library assistant. Now I’m a reference librarian which fits in great with my blog. Congratulations on all your success – I can tell you are a super-focused hard worker!

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  2. Sounds like that career is ideal for you. Always good to fit into what you do so well. I may have to do a post like this,particularly since all of the bio info about me on my blog is very out of date! (It was good in 2014, but not now 😉 ). Anyway, i knew that you were an accountant in finance. Good to know more about you 🙂

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  3. It’s great to learn more about you, Robbie. I retired from social work with the State of Texas in 2010. Since then, I’ve turned into either a full-time or part-time Nanny for grandchildren. They keep me busy!

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  4. Terrific writeup, Robbie. You’ve built a successful career based on hard work and intelligence…and you do your job as any great writer would, by creating a story! I learned to “back time” when doing live TV, which involves knowing your end point and working back from there…in a live situation, you have certain things you have to “hit” – but you don’t control what’s happening in a live situation, so you always have to be thinking many steps ahead with multiple options in your mind for how to pivot “in the moment”…anyway, great to read about your successful career – the one in addition to your writing success!

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    1. Thank you, John. Your comments about live TV are fascinating. I can imagine it would be exactly as you describe, you have to think on your feet. Things will often take a different direction from what you planned. Even C-19 has resulted in a need to be innovative and creative in all industries, but especially in TV and movies.

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  5. Like a fish to water! How wonderful that you found a career that suits you AND that is helped set you up for your writing career as well. Interesting that you were able to get that far with correspondence learning. Most impressive.

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    1. I think my habit of self study set me up for this, Annette. I have never really enjoyed attending technical updates during my working life. If I want to know how to do something, I prefer to study it up by myself. I learn better that way.

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  6. I know I’ve said it before, but you really are an inspiration, Robbie.
    Hmmm what do I do outside my writing and blogging persona? I love making/designing promotional images and book covers. Some people know that. What I haven’t talked/blogged about is that I’ve been a tarot reader since the mid 1990s.
    Have a terrific Tuesday. Hugs on the wing!

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  7. After 42 years of working in a variety of technology positions, I retired late last year. Maybe of interest, I spent six years in two different Big Four firms (KPMG – PriceWaterhouseCoopers) in their consulting practices. When I was at KPMG (Then Peat Marwick) I was in charge of what we called the “Audit Assist” practice, analyzing computer security, policies and procedures at companies on whose computer generated statements the auditors relied.

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  8. So interesting to learn a little more about you Robbie and read about what you do during the day. In my job I don’t deal much with finance – it is what my husband does though.

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  9. You always amaze me Robbie. I think many jobs involve working backwards to make what you have fit what you want. People don’t consider the creative aspects of business, but you have succeeded well with them. (K)

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    1. Hi Dan, thanks. I never really thought about it until I wrote this piece and then I suddenly realised that I did finish in 6 years instead of 7. I do enjoy my job but sometimes the overtime creep frustrates me when it eats into my writing time.

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  10. You have a fascinating and incredible background, Robbie. It was so great tp learn more about you. Congratulations on all of your accomplishments.
    I work in the real estate industry and have for thirty plus years. I fully plan to retire to continue until I retire!

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    1. Hi Mae, thank you for your comment. I remember that you are in real estate. Property is one of my industry specialisations and I have been involved in the listings on the stock exchange of a number of Real Estate Investment Trusts. So interesting. I helped develop the listings requirements for property companies and also the guidance for the audits of property forecasts. It is still one of my favourite areas of my job.

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  11. You have a very impressive professional background, Robbie! I’ll confess that when someone sends me an Excel spreadsheet at work, I first experience blind panic, and then I have to ask the sender to tell me what it means. (I can’t do anything with this! It’s just a bunch of numbers in little boxes.) I’ve been in nontraditional higher education my entire careet except when I became very disillusioned and took a job as an assistant director of a senior center. I lasted for two years before going back to higher ed. My current position is assistant dean of curriculum and assessment for Champlain College Online. I’ve been teaching online since 2009, and I love it. I thought critical inquiry for a number of years, and then was able to return to my first love: teaching the writing process.

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    1. Interestingly enough, Liz, a career in something relating to writing never crossed my mind when I started university. Even though I always wrote poems and descriptive pieces, I just never thought about it as a career choice. My sister, on the other hand, studied English at Uni and she is a copy writer for an advertising company. She is a creative director now. Her job is just as stressful as mine though. Thank you for sharing a bit about your background and career. I find it so interesting to learn more about people.

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  12. So fascinating to read about your day job. You are either the most efficient sleeper on the Earth, or you function on just a few hours of sleep with all of the irons you’ve got in the fire. You’re like one of those guys who keeps a bunch of plates all spinning at the same time.

    I was an obsessed elementary teacher who could never say no to anybody, but now my life is in a much better balance. I’m not giving that up anytime soon. Imagine being able to volunteer with the organizations that you are passionate about without being pressed for deadlines all the time. That’s where my head is at.

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    1. Hi Pete, it is not always easy keeping everything together. I need my writing and baking to stay happy and smiling. Stress wears you down and makes you tired. Hobbies lift you up and make you happy. They balance each other. I am not yet close to retirement age but I think its wonderful that you are now able to do all the things you want to do at a lovely leisurely pace. One day I will get there too, but I’m not in a hurry to retire.

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      1. You should work as long as you enjoy your job. The only people I’ve seen unhappy in retirement are those who don’t have enough to do. I doubt that is ever going to be a problem for you, Robbie.

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  13. Oh my God, Robbie! You’re a bean counter 🙂
    Wow, so much respect, my friend. Me and numbers DO NOT get along. In fact, I hardly know any writers who are number people, and visa versa. Kudos! Thanks for sharing this, I think it’s wonderful for us ‘gang’ to get to know each other a bit better!

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      1. That always helps!

        Many years ago, when I was doing my MBA, we had a guest lecturer who was an actuary. He told us that actuaries were people who found accountancy too exciting. That was 40 years ago and it clearly left a mark in my memory!

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    1. I am glad you enjoyed this post. It is a big irritating at the moment as I am working with Australia which is ahead of us and the USA which is behind us so the calls feel like they are all day and all night.

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  14. Hi Robbie, I know you’re a chartered accountant, but I was glad to read some more about your studies and took 6 years instead of 7 years to be certified. You were very focus and even dating didn’t distract you from your academic goals. You worked also while you studied. You must be good at your performance to get the scholarship. It was very impressive and you’re such a goal oriented person.

    I had a long career and never stop studying. I taught preschool for two years, then worked as a rehabilitation counselor for two years but was studying for my multiple subject credential at the same time. Then went back to teach in elementary school. After getting the teaching credential, I went on to study for the school administration and got my preliminary administrative credential. All the studies were done in the evenings while I was working during the day. After teaching for fourteen years. I went back to school to get the permanent administrative credential and at the same time got promoted to the administrative position at the school district. I could have studied two years to get the credential or studied for one additional year plus writing the dissertation to get both credential and the Ed.D. (Doctor of Education). I decided to go with three years. Most people finished three years of course work, then write the dissertation, but about 2% of the students wrote the dissertations during the third year of full time course work. Two classmates decided to do that and I joined them. So I finished my dissertation during the third year plus working full time. I was burned out after that. For the following 10 years, I only worked and did a lot of report writing, assessment of student learning, presentations and teaching to parents. But I took an online children’s writing course during these years.

    The above doesn’t include the years I worked in Hong Kong. I taught Chinese as a Second Language in two universities for two years, and worked in a literacy organization for two years and wrote four children’s books in Chinese.

    I’m a lifelong learner. After I was retired, I became a member of a program for the retirees and studied for fun. Now I’m just blogging, writing, and learning for fun.

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    1. You have a very impressive academic and work history, Miriam. I think people like us are addicted to work and learning and we drive ourselves on all the time. I can understand why you had burnout. I am glad you are making the most of your retirement and still learning and enjoying life.

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      1. I think you and I are high achievers, Robbie. We have the intelligent and ability to do things. We can’t stand still.
        When I was sick, I couldn’t wait to get better so my mind could think.
        I remember I was good in several major areas, just didn’t have enough hours to do them all.
        Yes, I’m mostly doing things for fun in my retirement.

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      2. Yes, we are very similar, Miriam. I have also noticed it. It is nice that we can relate to each other so well. I also hate being sick. Sickness slows me down and it drives me crazy to think of the lost time.

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      3. Haha, exactly, Robbie. I hated it when my brain is not alert. But now when I get older, my blood pressure is higher. I can’t drink too much or strong coffee. So I have to settle with a slower life.

        Enjoy your younger life when you can, Robbie.

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  15. Very cool and interesting – I never knew what a ladder the finance world had/has! I know it’s way different form my little corner of the world. And look at you getting an award!

    I just make drugs in real life.

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  16. I ended up being practical and got an Associates Degree in Assistant Teaching and had several jobs in that area. Then when my own children came I worked part-time evenings and weekends to supplement our income. I worked in offices, restaurants, card shop and even the bakery of a grocery store. Then I watched my grands while my eldest worked. I’ve been semi-retired for years… getting to travel with my husband when he goes to areas good enough for me to join him. I have always been a poet and writer, but not professionally until I actually won some money in Carrot Ranch contests. I’ve also sold some of my smaller handy-crafts. So I’m an artist of sorts as well as dabble in photography. I’m just either not brave enough or willing to spend the time to make my art or photos into a business. (Same for my writing which I mostly do under a pen-name.)

    I am now more than less retired so I have more time to do what I like as well as the things that need doing (house and domestically wise) as well as volunteering for transportation for an elder neighbor. Blogging and returning visits takes a good chunk of my time as well as reading for pleasure. 😀

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    1. It sounds like you have a lovely life, Jules. I will slow down in the future when I can, but it won’t be yet because my kids are still school and are being educated which is very expensive. I love blogging and really enjoy my friendships on-line and I try to carve out as much time as possible for it.

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      1. I think once we get to retire, we feel we deserve it. After I stopped working for pay I took care of my grands for about 7 – 8 years. So I’ve done raising young ones twice round. Luckily I won’t have to do that for teenagers!

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