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Young accountant braves countless challenges

Herman Thlako

Herman Thlako’s journey has inspired many. Born in Limpopo, Thlako grew up in Tembisa and knew that, with unemployed parents, getting any sort of education and career was going to be an uphill battle. But, while completing his matric in 2007 at Bokamoso Secondary School, Thlako put his head down and focused on achieving good results in the hope that it would open doors.

Speaking at the College of Economic and Management Sciences (CEMS) auditing day, Thlako said that Altimax, an accounting, business advisory and training firm, approached Bokamoso Secondary School, offering a bursary to one learner with exceptional results and the opportunity to pursue a career in chartered accountancy. Thlako received this honour and was also offered employment by the firm. Without any prior experience or higher education qualification, he enrolled for a Bachelor of Accounting Sciences degree at Unisa. “It was not easy and I struggled to juggle work and my studies,” says Thlako. “However, I persevered.”

It was a great achievement when Thlako completed the degree in 2010 without having failed a single module. But the struggle continued, and once again he needed to step up to the next level – the daunting Certificate in the Theory of Accounting (CTA). “The CTA is challenging, but at the same time opens up many doors,” says Thlako. During this time he was offered employment by Unisa’s Department of Auditing and it all came together when his results were released in November 2011. “The day I found out that I had passed the CTA examination was one of the best days of my life,” he says.

His drive and passion have earned him a position at Deloitte, one of the leading professional services firms in audit, tax, consulting and financial advisory. He’s now a trainee accountant based in Johannesburg, and recently passed the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants’ Board Exam 1 (QE1).

Thlako is a shining example of what commitment and resilience can achieve. “As a student one will always encounter obstacles, be it emotional or financial, but one has to push to succeed in life regardless of one’s situation. Look at me, I took a giant step and enrolled at Unisa. That took courage. And yes, there were and always will be challenges, but it will be worth it forever,” concludes Thlako.

Written by Kirosha Naicker

104 comments to Young accountant braves countless challenges

  • cta student 2013

    I finally got CTA after 3 attempts ayoba!!!

  • Cruise

    You are truly an inspiration.

  • Malunda Black Accounted Seroka

    Goodlife and high earning is not about luck,hard-working and scoring of good marks compensate in future term….ayoba Herman Tlhako o berekile morwa

  • bless

    Great story,coming frm a poor background is challenge on its own,your a worrier,l lack career guidance on my programme,lm studyng Bcom Financial Mgnt,this programme gt two ways: the accounting related modules and the investment related modules,very few people take investment modules,with my lack investment information lm undecided,l need help, plesae help

  • Future CA

    Wow, so inspiring. I also hope to become a chartered accountant, preferably CA(SA) one day soon. I have undertaken to score good marks for my BCom(pt) as from this year. I know I will do it in Jesus` name.

  • Sega

    Hi Herman

    You are an inspiration to all of us. As graduates in Applied Maths, Pysics, Acturial Science, we voluntered to provide Saturday classes in Maths and Science at Cosmo City for the past 2 years.I wonder if you can help in Accountancy.You are a role model to the learners.072 296 1337

  • Well done! You are a true inspiration, it is stories like this that motivate young South Africans especially the “black child”, as we can relate to similar hardships/challenges. When the son of the soil take such great strides in such a short period, it indeed reminds us that the sky is the limit. Keep it up my Chief…

  • Emmanuel

    A perfect example of greateness. Those who do not quite always get their breakthrough. Keep moving brother…

  • Lunga

    You have just inspired me, and i struggle with accounting, May g
    God continue to make you a blessing to others. Your parents must be the happiest. Thank you for sharing your story with us, i will share this with my cousin.

  • Tobias Simeon

    very inspiring young man.

  • shoni

    well done and keep inspiring young africans.

  • Mighty Gololo

    Inspiring indeed. U really make ur parents nd african fellows proud. Keep it up moisa

  • Grant

    He was very lucky! I’ve been with unisa since 2009 and still struggling to complete the second year! God open doors for him and no one can close them! Congratulations

  • Bongani Gordon Ndlovu

    Herman Thlako, You really are an inspiration to all the youth out there. Your footsteps hold a value of the road. KEEP SHINING

  • samuel Legare

    Yes it is chllenging but all possible. i love Herman story as many from same backround still feel is not possile. Amandla

  • Alick Murombo

    Great inspiration indeed, UNISA helped even me to get a degree! I salute the young man and the institute. Keep up the good work.

  • Makoena Mangoato

    u r such an inspiration. May God be with u throughout your journey

  • Makoena Mangoaoti

    Well done my brother, work like a slave in order to live like a king. i am speechless your story has touched me a lot. Wishing u Gud Luck whereever u r going.

  • The whole story highlights the concept of passion irrespective of the obstacles. May UNISA help us get our Engineering Mathematics IV results the subject we paid for because struggling to get the results on its own is mental blacmail by UNISA,we cannot even register for MTech as one is still unsure of the results.

  • Ndifelani

    what an inspiring story,i wish young people can read this,may be they can learn a lot.keep the good work up,the sky is a limit

  • Tumelo


    Bless you in all that you do,all the best.

    Patience does indeed go a long way

  • Evah

    Such an inspiration! I’ve also enrolled for BAcc and work at the same time. Totally relate… Difficult but possible. Big ups man. It is such stories that carries us through when the tough gets going. SUPER INSPIRED!!!

  • kaMahlase Dlomo

    Well done well done the indeed, you couldnt expect anything better from the story, its important to note that it is mentioned that he had obstacles but what I think is more important here is the role the young man played in working hard towards achieving his goals, whether or not there are obstacles getting to your destination is pretty the most important thing, stay focused young man, its determination that has got you where you are today. Well done indeed!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • I would like to applaude the young man in this article and as seen from the above comments he has inspired a lot of us. However I would like to draw attention to what Langton has just mentioned. He hit the nail rght on! I am one of those students who have struggled with in finding proper career guidance and so have hopped from one course to the next trying to find my niche. So I would advise those who are still battling to take Langton up on his offer!

  • lutendo simethi

    that was a brave step he took to study at unisa.

  • Tshidiso

    Really truely inspirational, well done my brother, I too am frm ekasi, Alexandra township to b exact. Iv jus completed a Btech: Mechanical Enginnering and I must say,tho it hasnt been easy juggling a job and 7 subjects al in 1 year, Id like to give credit to the institution for providing me with all the nessessary platforms to make it, all that was left was for me to persevere and i dd just that, Thank You my Grad-skul and all the lecturers who were there to assist me in making this possible, Aluta Continua

  • Thembi

    What an inspiring story, congradulations on your achievements. I am a BCompt student and working at the same time, it is tough but with people like you on our side encouraging us, I’m sure we will also make it, well done brother!

  • Sam Ramakatsa

    You’ve demonstrated that with a little bit of dedication, determination and discipline one can do wonders. Im really inspired.Well done my brother and everything of the best for future endeavours.

  • Lawrence Sindane

    ispired and motivated “indeed tough times never last but tough people do” best of luck with the future Herman and God bless you

  • Msizi

    Really inspiring stuff. And there are more stories where that came from. The greatest milestone is the CTA indeed. Having passed QE1, you should sail through PPE.

  • Chris

    Hi All,

    Can someone please give me some info on what Degree to take to become a CA eventually.

    Thank you.

  • Siza

    Congratulations Herman…

    u have also inspired me.. journey to success is not easy however we have to keep on moving up until we reach our goals.

    Wishing you all the best in your careeer.

  • Hloniphile Moyo

    What an inspiration. Congratulations Herman. You have given yourself a gift that no men could ever take away from you. Shine Brother.

  • Baraedi

    Good Morning

    Herman,you did very well..I so wish youth can follow your steps.God bless you richly so…Amen

  • Tash

    I am really inpired by your achievement ngwaneso. You even remind me of my time back then, If only I also had a sponsor or Bursar, maybe I’d also have achieved mine as well. My degree is now 6 years old and I am afraid as to whether I would still qualify to further my CTA studies. I really have passion for this route but unfortunately, after my Degree, I couldn’t go further due to financial constrains which is a huge catastrophe for most of us.

    well done bro – thumbs up!!!!!!!!!

  • Lesotla

    Congratulations my brother, i am inspired. Keep on shining!!!

  • kedibone

    i am so inspired by you. i wish u all the best.

  • inspired encouraging story indeed

  • There are lot of stories like this on previous issues of Inspired,and some of them went unrecorded.Having seen student studying in taxis,buses,living in shacks without electricity makes this one an ordinary story,however well done

  • Zingi Belani

    This indeed is a ground breaking academic and life story. It helps push me on in my Bcom studies with Unisa. There are and will always be challenges in studying as well as life in general.Herman is younger than I am but without any doubt, he is my role model.

  • Dr Phil

    Great story indeed. The young man is very focused i must say.

  • well done mr thlako, its the first time i see a person who has successfully completed the b.compt in accounting science degree. atleast now i know that it is possible to complete it… and wow completing it without failing even one module that is great bro halala congrats!!!*give that man a bell’s*

  • Moloko

    Shoes! Aowa, o shomile warra. Ruri ditaba tse re di balang di a thabisha.

  • Pee

    @Dr with all respect, Dr has been lost. If you do not draw challenges from the above article then your analytical skills are questionable. The boy’s parents were not employed. You can imagine the type of school and the resources at his disposal at high school. Secondly, he was working and studying at the same time. How many young students are dropping out from universities in spite of them being full time students? So Dr you must not lose sight of these two key challenges.

  • matsobane

    keep on pushing the boundries guys.

  • prudence

    Its a touchin story ,buh hard work olso duin bcompt en its challengin ..buh I knoe dez a destination 4 every jurney!um rilly inspired!

  • Hosia

    Inspired by this young man. Keep going

  • Collin

    Now I’m even more determined and inspired to get that daunting CTA next year. Keep pushing my guy

  • Tau

    Give that guy a bells

  • Sello

    My Chief, what an inspiring story. This has motivated me and its true that “nothing is impossible in life if you put your mind to it”. Good luck to you my brother.

  • Martie van der merwe

    Well done. I also studued under difficult circumstances and had to pay my own studies. Unisa made it possible to study, word, have a family and social life. Progressed until I became lecturer at Unisa. Worked for 26 years and then retired in 2010. Have seen and helped many students to achieve success. I was a wonderful feeling. One of my students is a full professor at an University in Canada.You should never stop studying, continue when you are young and motivy ofthers to do the same. It is difficult but rewarding life! Good luck!

  • Shafik Mackenzie

    I’m currently studying Accounting Science in Financial Accounting my Dream is to become a CA but I have this fear of not getting a job one day. :(
    I wish all my hard work pays of and I get a stable job one day, the story is inspiring :)


  • Herman Thlako

    To all da masses. Im very humbled by ur words.

  • Sharon

    Everybody has challenges that they go thrOugh, I don’t think they have to be highlighted as we all know personally what we’ve gone through and will go through.
    Truly an inspirational young man. May GOD continue to use you to boost others to put in the hard work, it does pay off. Continue being excellent! Family must be very proud! Well done to your parents.

  • Eddy Mashego

    Very inspiring story. South Africa needs young people like u. You giving me the strenght to put more effort on my studies

  • I am inspired by your achievement Herman, I so wish your story can be told to all the newly matriculated students in townships, who don’t know where they are going to get money to go to university next year. South Africa needs people like you, who will bring hope to the black child from ekasi, whom have nothing but a dream. It’s stories like this that gives me licence to dream again.

  • Congrats to him , nowadays its not easy to pass Bcompt as most students tend to fail auditing even though the paper was not bad. i think the auditing department should be audioted to ensure that they award fair marks to the students.

  • Willem Kwatapa

    I feel stimulated. What a great achievement. Am revived. Come January. Unisa am oming back to collect my degree.

  • Shishi

    Please give this guy a Bells!

  • Bothwell Tineyi Bepe

    This is quite encouraging Herman Thlako, lm so inspired to work hard as well and l believe l can make it, l have enrolled for the Postgraduate Diploma in Management Accounting and wanna pursue the Chartered Accountancy through the CIMA Route.

    Thank you brother Herman

  • hilda pona

    Good luck in everything my brother God bless u en be example 2 other brothers en sisters.very inspiring indeed.

  • Lorenzo

    I am really inspired indeed. Now I have new hope for next year.
    Thank you for perserverance, which also taught me not to give up.

  • Nompilo

    Woooooow soo inspiring big up to u broe

  • Khumbulephi

    Well done brother this not only inspire us but shows that the is always a solution for a challenge.Enkosi !

  • Dzhombere Tshifhiwa

    Herman, you are inspirational man to us who still want to achieve our studies. I’m proud of young man like you. Well done Herman once again

  • Rachel

    INSPIRED and keep on making Mzansi shine.

  • congratulation dear brother you did well and god will reward ,already reward you for the hard work,we unisa student are proud of you,you have put us high in our map.god bless.

  • Emmanuel

    An inspiring story indeed and as a Unisa BCompt student I feel more encouraged with Herman journey. If you keep your eye on the finishing point anything will be possible

  • zanele

    Weldone abuti. Very inspiring indeed.Juggling work and demanding academic studies is not for the faint-hearted.

  • zitu

    Really aspiring, interesting and encouraging.
    I’m about to finish my B.Tech Degree specialising in instrumentation and Control. Aiming to pursue masters degree next year, if all goes according to my plan. You have done the excellent work

  • Dr

    This story is not balanced. I would have loved the writer to state those challenges attributed to in the story title. In this story, only the bright side of events are covered. None of the things I read about in the story sound to me like a challenge/hardship. If studying is regarded as a challenge, then we all have to be written about.

    Nevertheless, I am proud of this young man from my home province. He has achieved much in no time and I hope he does not end up being corrupted by the capitalists in executing his duties. Corrupters go all out to get their way through acts and auditors there to rescure us.

    Ke ago lebogisha morwarre. Katlego ya gago e laesta gore, ge o shoma ka maatla, le moputso wa gona o a bonala. O sware bjalo Herman.
    Ke go lakaletsa mahlatse le mahlogonolo go tsohle tseo o di labalabelago bophelong. Big Up Bro

    • Willem Kwatapa

      Dr have highlighted some important fact. The story is not balanced. What were the difficulties. Finance has a very serious impact on our journey to obtain our qualifications. If studying is regarded as a challenge, then we all have to be written about.

      • Prince

        Dr and Willem… Yes studying through UNISA is considered challenging and not because it is a bad university but because many of us lack discipline and like to be spoon fed. The story is well written. Herman’s challenges might not have been the same as what you are experience but the moral of this story is that push harder irrespective of those challenges… We will also read about you when you pass your QE1. One respondent on this thread wrote that there are many other unpublished stories like this one and I agree with him. Stay determined and do well in every aspect of your life even if no one sees it, you can take comfort in the knowledge that God knows and that’s what matters.

        Ps – the writer did mention that Herman had been emplyed since he matriculated and had no prior experience and knowledge of how distance learning would impact on his studies… Now I would think that these were some of the challenges he had to go through wouldn’t you say. Remember, just because its not in black and white it doesn’t meant its there. Read between the lines.

  • Tumi

    This is one story I will print and file, one day I will use this story piece as a guide for me to finish my Accounting Degree.

    Its not easy and no one said it will be easy, but its worth it after all…

  • Nkosiyabo

    A drive to all whom may be facing the same challanges or feeling like gving up. Inspiraional indeed.

    What l can say to everyone is; accept your self for whom you are and start challenging this life that is challenging us. Strive for the best.

    All the best to everyone in achieving their goals and making their dreams come true.


  • robert

    the real deal man, keep on shining.

  • Kolobe

    A moving tale indeed. At the same time I can relate. I studied in Tembisa in Ingqayizivele and used the very same strategy. Now I’m an Electronics Engineer by profession and currently studying towards my 2nd degree of BBA with UNISA – I’m halfway through already. It is an uphill juggling work, social and academic life. Aluta continua

  • Puleng


    Ke ikganthxa ka wena ngwanexo, ke thabela gore ga se wa tloga gae Limpopo go tla go raloka mo Borwa.

    Txohle di go atlegele ngwanamma!!!!

    Nkabe ke tseba sereto seno.


  • Unathi Dandala

    Herman Thlako’s story is one of the most inspirational stories I’ve heard. Congratulations Herman. You have given yourself a gift that keeps on giving. Education.

  • Sanele Samuel Shabalala

    Your story real motivates, keep it up with good work.

  • Well done Herman, the Country is need of you and your likes and so is the World. I’m trully inspired to refocus and work harder at my LLB degree. Big ups to you abuti.

  • Incense

    Well done Mr Thlako, you are a great example to us all, with people like you the future is bright for SA I wish this article was published in a nation wide newspaper so everyone can be inspired and encouraged by this great story of yours, you have proved that nothing can impied/stop one from being what he/she wants to be. INSPIRED!!!

  • Neliswa

    Inspiring story indeed…its about time our young people stop coming up with excuses and learn from this young man. People chose to be victim of circumstances its not a destiny…but because people are always waiting for free things instead of doing things for themselves. Well done.

  • Livhuwani Maselesele

    Well done indeed Herman, you are a true champion and now a role model for other young people to follow in your footsteps.

  • Congratulations Herman!!!So motivational. This story has given me strength and courage since I’m also doing the same course. It’s not easy but, it’s worth trying and working hard! In 2013, i’m going to work even harder!!!

  • Vusi Thabethe

    You are a role model to other young people.Keep it up!!

  • Hi m so inspired,Now i know that i need to work hard and make sure that i dont keep my eyes off my goals so that i can be able to be an CA one day if this guy did it i can do it as well,i’m currently doing my 2nd semester in Bcompt Financial accounting and with this inspiration m sure i can do it..Keep it up bru now i understand that it not about where u come from but what matters is where you are going m’ inspired bru,

  • Wow inspiring indeed, a young man of my own age! I’m guessing 22-23. Some of us are still struggling with have the drive but we still fail to make it through second level. I have thus changed from acc, to a less simpler. Come june 2013 I’ll be a graduate too. Even though its not as lucrative as a B.compt accounting sciences.

  • phophi

    big up!!!!! so may young south African youths need to hear this kind of stories!!!! hardwork pays off, always.

  • ike

    Inspirational indeed,this really motivate me to really work very harder.shine on you herman thlako

  • Yes, an inspiring story and there are many more unpublished similar cases.
    I however, would like to highlight a very critical point with regards to career guidance which also affected me during my youth. As someone studying through Unisa, my obstacles included lack of insight into open distance learning and getting in touch with the relevant and credible, knowledgeable consultants/advisors to offer career guidance.
    Schools have made attempts to address this and as in the above story some companies have visited schools while some portals of organization provide skeletal information, not really providing deep insight into career choices.
    The same comparison is drawn against FINANCING ORGANIZATIONS that make it appear and sound easy to secure a business loan when infact a simple computer generated ‘no-reply’ message asks you to load a business plan with no deep analysis of its potential to become a highly sucessful business creating employement and adding value to our communities.
    Typically, applications are likely to be rejected on simple technicality.
    Simple as this might appear, numerous front desks at Unisa offer liitle and often inadequate advice, while there might be a few of them able to impart the necessary advice.
    Prospective students are hushed to register and those from a background where members of the family or peers have never gone past Matric, its a huge disadvantage.
    One wonders if Herman’s determination would have yielded similar outcomes had the accounting firm not visited his school at the appropriate time in his life.
    Perhaps reach out programmes targeting township malls such as Maponya in Soweto could go a long way in assisting these youths/adults before even embarking on the registration process.
    Although i may notknow the college drop-out rates in SA, i have a strong belief that the figures are high and probably so due to lack of the urge and esteem and the inner feeling that the course may not even help them secure employment afterall.
    Although i have done several courses in my lifetime, the rapid technological changes we face today are our biggest challenges often making those courses not only irrelevant but obsolete.
    This is the reality and am prepared to assist on purely voluntary basis, at a personal level, those prospective students who may be facing some of those challenges.
    Sadly, the disadvantaged ones may not even be able to access the Unisa website to read this mail.

    • Mxolisi

      You addressed an issue that’s been on my conscience for the last two decades. Would you be willing to discuss how to set up or build a mentoring agency, possibly on a nonprofit basis, directed at providing critical career guidance to the South African youth?

      Mxolisi Malunga
      Educator & UNISA LLB Student
      3 Bulger Ave, Suite F
      New Milford, NJ 07646

      UNISA Id: 8315531

    • Mxolisi

      Langton, the email address is

    • Percy5

      True, you have said a mouthful. Young-stars out there need people like Herman to share with them their stories at Schools. In order for them to make informed decisions once they are school leaves and before.

  • Shoniwa

    This i s encouraging. I am doing Bcompt as well , and it is quite challenging. I failed he audit modules last semester, and I was disturbed a lot. Just wondering what is really required of me.I hope to excell in future.

  • Sifiso

    Very inspiring. Thank you for being a shining example that hard work pays off!

  • Basolile

    With young person like Herman who so determined in life no matter how difficult the cirumstances are, there is still a hope for our country. Well done, you inspired us all.

  • Inspired,Keep going man. hope young other peoples can follow on your foot steps.A person who makes a difference is a person who helps someone to be a better person.

  • ziyanda

    hi i was doing an access proggram at Unisa Cape Town,(CEMS)but i haven’t registered yet. my option is either to register for accountancy or auditing but it seems the modules are not different from each other. what i would like to know is,what modules should you have to consider when registering for the internal auditing?…and also wich is better from the other,between accountancy or auditing specificaly speaking.

    im inspired by the story…

    • I would prefer the Financial Accounting route. Of 3 BCompt degrees, it is the only 1 accredited with SAICA and will allow you to persue the Chartered Accountancy route. Being a CA will give you countless opportunities in Acc, Auditing and finance arenas. However the other two are not bad at all. It will come down to your aspirations, dreams etc. Goodluck.

  • Candice

    What an inspirational story. so many young people fall through the cracks, so it’s great hearing about others’ achievements.

    Well done Herman, and to Kirosha for great writing.

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