There have been many times in my career when I have had to face my fears head on. Back in the day, I used to have a phobia about standing up in front of people and doing presentations – I preferred to be sitting and listening. However, as the CFO of FINCA Zambia, a microfinance institution, I have had to step out of my comfort zone on many occasions to do presentations, addressing colleagues and board members alike, and now it is not so daunting.

From childhood all I wanted to become was a medical doctor. However, my interest shifted from medicine to accounting when I started to study Principles of Accounting at school. I fell in love with the subject, so after finishing school I pursued first my National Accounting Technician qualification, then the ACCA qualification, which I felt was a very good fit. I graduated from Oxford Brookes University with the Bachelor of Science in Applied Accounting.

If I had the power, I would change Zambia’s Pay As You Earn tax, which is way too high

My career started in 2005 when I joined Zambia Air Services Training Institute as an assistant accountant. In 2008, keen to join a more mainstream company, I moved to Barclays Bank Zambia, where over nine years I worked in a number of roles. Next, I joined another commercial bank, United Bank for Africa, first as its country head of internal control, then head of internal audit. Since 2019 I have worked as CFO in two microfinance institutions, ExpressCredit Zambia and now FINCA Zambia, providing financial services to the financially excluded.

As CFO I need to be making decisions quickly and efficiently, while also inspiring confidence in my management of the company’s finances. This requires excellent organisational skills. I am also a kind of liaison officer between business owners, investors, managers and employees, so effective communication is a key ingredient to success in the role. In my experience, a good CFO needs to have high emotional intelligence, be detail oriented, a keen problem-solver and have strong leadership skills.

Zambian businesses today face many challenges. Key among them are skyrocketing inflation, depreciation of the local currency, high commodity prices, and high interest rates, resulting in high-cost borrowing coupled with low liquidity supply in the market. However, despite these harsh economic challenges, the market still offers immense business opportunities to resilient companies. The financial sector is still making huge profits as people are queueing up to borrow. The agricultural sector meanwhile is enjoying immense opportunities due to the high commodity prices.

I get great satisfaction from seeing my subordinates make progress in their careers

What I most I enjoy about my job is seeing my decisions and initiatives shaping my organisation into a more successful business. I also spend a considerable amount of my time mentoring our staff and get great satisfaction from seeing my subordinates make progress in their careers.

My greatest achievement so far? I am proud that at ExpressCredit, I was able to help turn around what was a loss-making business into a successful and profitable organisation in under a year.

If I had the power to change any law, I would change our Pay As You Earn (PAYE) tax, which is way too high in Zambia. I would reduce it from the current 37.5% down to at least 25% to give employees more disposable income.

If I had not become a finance professional and accountant, I think I might have pursued a career in actuarial science.

I am a fan of both Chelsea and Real Madrid and love watching football in my spare time. I also enjoy reading educational books.