An interview with Team Athena from Copperbelt University - Zambia, Winners of the 2016 maiden edition of The CFO Case Study Competition (a globally acclaimed annual show piece)

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CharterQuest
, 17 February 2017

Subtitle

Can you tell us about each of your backgrounds? 

David: I just turned 22 in December 2016, and I am the second born in a family of 3. I completed my High School in 2010 after which I decided to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in Accountancy. 

Chileleko: I am 23, the 6th born in a family of 7, and a devoted Christian. I just graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting. 

Elinah: I was born in 1993 in Botswana -into a family of 6 where I grew up until 2005 when my parents moved back to Zambia. I graduated last year with a Bachelor’s Degree in Accountancy. 

Chanshi: I am 23; from as far back as I can remember, five things always stood out for me -my competitive nature, confidence, public speaking as well as an innate desire to analyse issues and to lead.

Why did you all choose to study Accounting? 

David: I loved numbers from High School and often did well at quantitative subjects and more so in Accounting; so it became the natural choice. 

Chileleko: Accounting helps one to appreciate the complexities of running a business: as the backbone of business, I believed it was going to help me develop a great career. 

Elinah: Honestly, I chose Accounting because I was following my dad’s career –he is a chartered accountant; qualified with the ACCA. However, with time, I discovered just how much I enjoyed it; hence I fixed myself on it till I graduated! 

Chanshi: The world is run by the economy which is business. Studying Accounting helps you understand various aspects of this and positions you in terms of marketability as a graduate. Also, an understanding of business places you as a leader, refer to Donald Trump (Chuckles).

How did you form your team? (responses by David Mwanza- team leader) 

All 4 of us were members of the executive accounting association called the Zambia Institute of Chartered Accountants Copperbelt University Chapter. Through this association, working together is something that we did repeatedly in many projects -thus when the opportunity to enter the competition presented itself, we formed Team Athena and entered.

 So why exactly did you enter?

In Africa, there are rarely any opportunities to compete at a global level as a student. We have always wanted to demonstrate that we indeed have the knowledge and skills to take on complex business cases. The competition presented this package to us and much more and hence we entered.

What were the most fundamental business skill sets tested in the case study? 

There were many but prioritisation stood out. The CFO case company –MCOM; was faced with numerous challenges -all worthy of extensive board attention: it gave a real life feel to the 

challenge of allocating time and attention to the most important issues. Integrative thinking also was heavily tested: how different departments, issues, actions, individuals and markets affect the whole portfolio. You could not tackle any issue in isolation thus forcing us to find optimum solutions. We have acquired so many other skills in the fields of governance, ethics, risk, strategy, corporate reporting, investment, and leadership.

Did your degree programme provide adequate knowledge to tackle the case study or you had to investigate outside of what you had studied?

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