On 1 October 2021 Vincent Motholo started day one as chief financial officer (CFO) at the University of Cape Town (UCT). It’s been almost nine months since he packed up his home and left the Jacaranda City for the Mother City – and he’s loving every minute of it.
“I must say, my onboarding at UCT has been exceptional. The way I was received by the vice-chancellor, the chief operating officer and the executive ensured that my transition to UCT and to Cape Town was seamless,” Motholo said.
This welcome reception, he said, made it a lot easier for him to hit the ground running and focus on the business of day. Being captain of the university’s finance ship – a fundamental function within the institution – is no mean feat, but it’s a job he executes meticulously and with great pride.
A mighty task
As CFO, Motholo is responsible for managing the university’s finance function by enforcing the necessary processes and policies and ensuring that UCT’s funds are managed in a responsible manner. An essential part of the job is to identify new avenues to help the university grow its revenue. He’s also tasked with reviewing finance decisions made in the past and to establish whether they remain relevant, fit for purpose and in line with the university’s strategic objectives.
“I am very excited about this appointment. Positions like this in an industry like ours are seldom occupied by someone who looks like me.”
“I am very excited about this appointment. Positions like this in an industry like ours are seldom occupied by someone who looks like me. And by that I mean from both a race and age perspective. I understand the impact my appointment has on society, especially as we are trying to achieve transformation,” he said.
Prior to joining UCT, Motholo was a director and partner at SNG Grant Thornton – the South African black-owned member firm to Grant Thornton International – the seventh largest accounting firm in the world. There, he worked on a plethora of clients across multiple sectors including mining, higher education, manufacturing and logistics.
Mostly highs than lows
He’s taken to his new role like a fish to water and despite being in the job for a mere nine months, he could reflect on a few highs and lows with ease.
“Cape Town is absolutely beautiful. So, a personal high has got to be the outdoors – cycling, hiking and early morning runs with my two sons. It’s been wonderful and we are in awe of this city,” he said.
On the work front, successfully raising a fair amount of funding to address the ongoing student debt challenge has been a “definite high”. But he maintains that it would be a lofty, near impossible task without his outstanding team. As for the lows, having little control of his diary has got to be it, Motholo quipped.
His vision for the department is underpinned by its strategic objectives, which is to ensure that the university remains financially sustainable and retains its spot as the top university in Africa. Added to that, he said working hand in hand with faculties and professional administrative support and service (PASS) staff departments to achieve their financial goals forms part of it.
“Our vision is to ensure sustainability and excellence through transformative actions and partnering.”
But it doesn’t end there. Providing staff in the finance department with a platform to grow and develop in their roles and ensuring that everyone’s voices are heard is one of his primary objectives. This, he added, is also a cornerstone to ensuring that staff reach their human potential to create a fair and just society, which forms part of UCT’s Vision 2030.
Motholo, who is passionate about staff development, believes that it’s also important that colleagues in his department lend a hand and offer their expertise beyond the university. These opportunities will help them to learn and flourish further in the industry, he added.
“It is so important for staff in the department to occupy strategic positions in the sector outside of the university, where they are able to lend their expertise and learn from others,” he said. “That’s another way of unleashing our human potential – whatever we have within, it’s crucial to be able to share it with the rest of the country and the world.”
“I understand the responsibility that comes with both of these appointments, and as much as I derive excitement from it, I also take it very seriously.”
And Motholo leads by example. Earlier this month he was reappointed as chairperson of the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA). He considers the reappointment as both an honour and a privilege and looks forward to sharing his expertise with SAICA’s various structures and to making a meaningful contribution to the organisation.
“I understand the responsibility that comes with both of these appointments, and as much as I derive excitement from it, I also take it very seriously. I’d like to think that when a young child in Khayelitsha sees me in these roles, it ignites a flame in them and shows them what’s possible and what they can achieve with hard work,” he said.
Motholo was initially appointed as executive director for finance. However, in April 2022 he became the university’s first chief financial officer owing to the ever-changing landscape of the higher education sector nationally.
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