There a lot of people out there who regret their career choice. Whether they were forced into it by their parents or they felt it was perfect at the time, dedicating four years and a whole lot of money for a degree you don’t even want anymore will surely leave you in a deep pit of regret. But what if you realised this early? What if you know right now that that is not the path you want to be in? Career or personal? Will you make that change?
Nelao Hamunime, a Manager in the Advisory Department at an audit firm, shares her story on how she made the change she is most proud of today.
The two career options available to me at the end of high school were, something in the field of science, or accounting. I wasn’t keen on sitting in a lab all day, or dealing with sick people, so I chose to study accounting. I had the marks for it, I was good at it, I loved it, and I was determined to become a CA (FYI I actually wanted to become a writer).
I entered university with a bursary from a big four audit firm excited at the prospect of leaving with my Honours in Accounting in four years’ time, but the reality was far different from the dream. It wasn’t long before I realised that accounting was not for me, the love I had for the subject in high school had suddenly vanished. It became a tedious and quite frankly uninteresting subject, and I dreaded those 07:30 classes.
It wasn’t long before I realised that accounting was not for me…
Afraid to be labelled a failure, and even more afraid of what my parents would say, I ploughed through the first year of the course, determined to scrape my way to an increasingly elusive 50%. I wish I could say I made it, I didn’t. I entered the next year determined that this time, I would get it right, how, I wasn’t sure, I still had no passion for what I was doing, but grit and hard work would get me there (I thought).
One day, I while studying with a friend, I caught sight of one of her text books, a subject I’d never heard of before “Internal Auditing” I asked her about it, and after she explained it to me, I knew this is what I was meant to be doing. I’ve always been a timid person, never took risks, and never did anything potentially dangerous or seemingly reckless…until then.
I don’t know where I found the guts, but I immediately told my parents I was changing courses, accounting was not for me and I didn’t want to waste any more time on it. It would require me to go to Summer school during the December holiday, to catch up on the one subject I needed to make the switch, I would be one year behind my peers, but I wouldn’t be starting from scratch. Thank God for understanding parents. Summer school was a breeze, I aced my make-up subject (with very little effort) and that step started my journey to what was (at the time) a relatively unknown career.
I don’t even remember the next three years, when you’re doing something you love, it doesn’t feel like work, no matter how many sleepless nights you endure, not matter how much socialising you give up, no matter how early you wake up, how many tests you write, everything just feels…easy. I walked out of University with two degrees and (relatively good marks) and started my career as an internal auditor in 2010. Eight months later, I had completed all four of my board exams, and was well on my way to becoming a Certified Internal Auditor (CIA).
It wasn’t easy, many people were convinced that I had simply flunked out of accounting and trying to grasp at straws (maybe I was). In 2012, after completing my mandatory training, I became the 25th CIA in Namibia, and one of the youngest, who knew? At the time I qualified, I didn’t realise there were so few of us, I had become a professional with a highly sought after qualification.
It wasn’t easy, many people were convinced that I had simply flunked out of accounting
But that’s not the best part, working as an auditor has taught me many lessons, exposed me to many industries and different people, opened the most unexpected an unusual doors for me. I spend most of my time analysing information and writing stories about what I’ve observed, and helping people identify solutions to problems. The skills I’ve gained as an internal auditor led to me joining a project which had never before been undertaken in Namibia, our first ever TEDx event (TEDxWindhoek). During that time, I learned I had another skill, live tweeting (which at the time was honestly not a thing). It lead to more live tweeting events and even running social media marketing campaigns for other projects with some of my friends and close family.
Auditing also allowed me to write, something which I have always loved and wanted to do (finally), I wrote so much, I managed to convince my friend to allow me to contribute to the Namibia Weddings Magazine, in a segment called “The Wedding Circus”.
Since starting as an auditor back in 2010, I have changed jobs twice (a very common occurrence in my profession) and moved up the ranks. I’ve learned that my place is definitely in consulting, speaking to people and learning their stories is a humbling and gratifying experience. The most gratifying is when you see the positive impact your work has on your clients and their employees/customers. I’ve developed social skills I previously thought myself incapable of, and I’ve worked with some of the most brilliant minds I’ve ever met. Let’s not forget travelling, I definitely love the travelling.
Anyone who knows me knows how much I love my job and my profession, given the chance to make this choice again, I would, with no hesitation. Sometimes doing something different and stepping out of the ordinary seems daunting. You will face criticism, people will talk about you, and you will have many moments when you doubt yourself. But I also believe that in order to achieve greatness, in order to grow, one has step into the unknown, walk through fear and try something new.
Sometimes doing something different and stepping out of the ordinary seems daunting. You will face criticism, people will talk about you, and you will have many moments when you doubt yourself. But I also believe that in order to achieve greatness, in order to grow, one has step into the unknown, walk through fear and try something new.
– Nelao Hamunime