Sometimes I ask myself, was it happenstance that I ended up in tax? Maybe it was! But let me tell you my story. After graduating, I gravitated towards a career in financial accounting because it was what came naturally to me. I worked for a private mission hospital and it was great. I did accounting for the hospital, Government funding and Donor funding yet I still got bored. The fear of boredom is the only reason I didn’t go back into banking after my old boss asked if I was interested in returning to the bank.
Thinking back, I was always drawn to tax. I remember the days I anxiously asked my tax lecturer about doing tax when I returned home. His answer was simple, the tax systems are similar. That gave me some form of comfort but I soon shelved the idea. I never understood half of what my tax lecturers taught, yet I seem to remember tax definitions and sections from the South African tax law. How awkward! In 2014, I attended the Tax Week hosted by the Institute of Certified Tax Accountants. Many delegates were sponsored by their employers and they found it eerie that I had sponsored myself for the entire week. The funny thing though, I knew very little about Zimbabwean Tax at that time so for me, I had come to school. I took notes like a student and enjoyed the experience.
Me being me, I went out on a limb to gather as many contacts as I could. I met amazing tax professionals and I kept in touch with those who responded to me and grew my network. I understood the power of networking from the little bit I learnt back in University.
Fast-forward to December 2014, I tendered my resignation and moved to Harare. I had enough savings to cover rent, food, and transport for dropping off my CV for 2 months. One thing I can tell you is that I applied to every accounting firm that appeared in my Google search results, even the dodgy ones. Guess what, after all that effort I got one interview and one job that didn’t work out. While jobless, looking at my savings running low, I got countless calls to attend interviews for accounting jobs and this is where I gambled. I rolled the dice even though I knew I might lose. But what if I won!
I politely declined the interviews and kept my eyes on the prize. I had no experience in tax and it only made sense to get an accounting job. In that moment, I threw reason out of the window. As people say nowadays, “If I die, I die”. That was my stance.
After my one tax job didn’t work out I made a plan. I started a tax blog which led to running a small tax practice and the rest is history. All this while, I had to learn Zimbabwean Tax on my own. That meant I read anything and everything and translated it to what I thought it meant. Thankfully, I fell in love with reading straight from the Legislation and had a tax guru to guide me through my thoughts and interpretations. This was a person I met back in 2014 at Tax Week, and they opened their wealth of knowledge to me. Thank you Mr. Simon Gwenzi for answering all my questions even ones that didn’t make sense.
In the second half of 2016, I wrote my first tax guide and the only job I had was my self-employment. I published the tax guide in January 2017 and by then I had a job. Let’s track back to January 2015 when I applied to more than 20 firms and no one took a chance on me. That didn’t stop me from pursuing my dream. Also, that was the last time I applied for a tax job. The tables turned and now it is the jobs that find me. I have taken only three opportunities out of more than ten significant ones that came to me, including international ones. I wish I could share the endless list of companies and firms that approached me. My friends even thought I was crazy not to take most of those interviews and opportunities. I thought so too but I had a goal, and I am getting there. I love what I do and now they call me Tax Bae. Who would have guessed 5 years ago that I would be Tax Bae?
After all is said and done, my goal is to inspire just one person to go after their dreams. Allow yourself to dream and dream big. Someone once said, “The possibility of the dream gives strength.” Mine was a gamble but I made it!
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Be inspired to your ultimate emergence!Nonhlanhla Nyathi