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Career advice from a corporate Boss Babe: meet Kate Dunjane, a tax professional working for a multinational company…

Okay, spill the beans on your career

The financial services industry is wide, with a bunch of opportunities across different sectors – think banking, corporate finance, investments, tax, auditing, etc. Kate Dunjane is a tax professional working for a multinational company in the financial services industry. “My client within the group is one of the leading (in terms of assets under management) asset management companies in Africa and I provide them with advice on the most tax-efficient structures on their investment deals,” she says.

Let’s talk about tax…

Kate studied a BCom Accounting (undergrad degree), then completed her first post-grad degree, a BCom Honours specialising in Taxation. “I studied both these degrees full-time at the University of Johannesburg. I recently completed my Masters in Commerce degree, specialising in International Taxation. I studied this part-time over a two-year period with the University of Cape Town,” she says.

After her Honours, she signed up with a few recruitment agencies that dealt specifically with financial services clients and, through one of them, she landed a contract position as a Finance Intern at Standard Chartered Bank. “That was my first official entry into the financial services market. I was only there for a few months, though, because I wanted to pursue a career in tax specifically. I was lucky to land a position as a Tax Graduate Trainee at the organisation I’m currently working at and have grown organically from there,” she says.

How can graduates get into the finance industry?

There are graduate training programmes available in most organisations, particularly with the “Big 4” banks and audit firms – Deloitte, KPMG, PwC and Ernst & Young.

Kate advises graduates or final-year students to sign themselves up with as many finance recruitment agencies as possible. “It’s in their best interests to find job placements for candidates because they earn commission from the organisations they recruit on behalf of. I would also advise them to approach organisations they’re interested in working in, even if they don’t officially offer internships or graduate training programmes,” she says. In that instance, work on your CV and write a cover letter to motivate why you’d like to join the company and how you see yourself adding value. Find an HR representative from that organisation on LinkedIn and connect with them. Take initiative and put yourself out there.

Online resources

For students or graduates interested in pursuing a career in tax, Kate recommends following this website: taxstudents.co.za. The platform is an initiative borne by The South African Institute of Tax Professionals – the official professional regulatory body of tax professionals in SA. “They host an annual Tax Students Conference, which provides students with info regarding a professional career in tax, including how to qualify as a registered tax practitioner,” she says.

The role of leadership

Leadership is the ability to positively influence people. Kate’s parents were strict when it came to academics and achievements – she has always been an “overachiever”. “I used to daydream about being positively influential in whatever space I would occupy, whether professionally or from a social-impact perspective, and that is essentially what I believe leadership is, or at least it should be,” she says.

Is Imposter Syndrome real in the job?

“It is real… I experience it all the time. I have come to accept it as normal. I honestly find comfort in knowing that even some of the people we hold in very high regard, and look up to, experience it too, so it’s not unusual,” she says.

It’s important to be aware of it and the only way to do this, she believes, is to sit with that feeling when it comes. “The more you sit with your thoughts or feelings, the more familiar you become with them and the more familiar you are with them, the better you understand why they’re there, where they come from and what informs them. When you understand that, you are better able to deal with those things at a root cause level,” she says.

Piece of advice you’d give your 21-year-old self?

“Kate, while it is common to be impressionable and to seek external validation at your age, I want you to know and believe that everything you need is already inside of you. Take a deep dive into yourself, and there you will find your greatest treasure.”

Words of career advice to young women?

The best advice Kate can give you is the same advice she gives herself: Believe that you are already a work of art. “The best version of you already exists within you and everything you encounter on your journey is a lesson that refines and chips away at everything that is standing in the way of your shine,” she adds.

What are you most passionate about?

“I am passionate about human capacity and potential and contributing to and investing in the personal development of people – especially young people and women. I have over the years invested my time and resources working with various organistions in this space to play my part,” says Kate.

Add this book to your reading list

The Neuroscience of Change: A Compassion-Based Program for Personal Transformation by Kelly McGonigal. “It comes in an audio book format and I listen to it on my drive to and from work, usually around the beginning of every year,” she says. Kate first came across this book five years ago and admits to it changing her life. “This book helped to understand myself better; taught me why it’s easier for the brain to self-critic and how to re-channel that knowledge into self-compassion. Most importantly, this book taught me how to manage my inner experiences to facilitate the outward changes I seek to make in my life,” she adds.

The importance of self-care…

“I practice self-care by allowing myself to feel how I feel without judgement. I give my feelings, thoughts and emotions room to breathe and just be. That gives me the freedom to be honest with myself and others about how I feel,” she says.

Kate believes that we often dismiss how we feel when people ask us how we’re doing. “We tell them we’re okay, even when we’re not. We show up and pretend to be okay even when we’re not. I try to not do that anymore. I honour myself and I value my peace of mind, so I tap out of situations and avoid people whose energies wear me out,” she explains.

As an introvert, she spends a lot of time alone, and that helps her recharge her batteries. “The other very important thing I do to take care of myself is sleep. I prioritise getting between seven to eight hours of sleep every day. It would be impossible for me to do all the things I do if I skimped on sleep,” she says.

Connect with Kate

Instagram: @katedunjane. They can also connect with me on LinkedIn: Kate Dunjane.

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