Alumna Profile: Julia Sediane

Posted on May 31, 2023

Julia Sediane, a University of Pretoria (UP) alumnus and an independent internal audit consultant, says the networks she built while completing her MPhil Internal Auditing have been beneficial to her career. The decision to go independent was not an easy one, however the professional networks created during the course simplified the process of securing more work opportunities.

“The MPhil degree enabled me to create new networks with fellow internal auditors who were already in very senior positions in their respective companies. I decided to become an internal audit consultant and some of my classmates have been instrumental in opening leads for me to find more consultancy work,” she says.

Read more about her academic journey and how she rallied support to complete her studies successfully.

Q: Please share the details of your studies, mentioning the qualification/s you completed at UP, what motivated you during your studies, and how you overcame any challenges you encountered.

A: I studied for an MPhil degree in Internal Auditing at UP. What motivated me was the need to grow in my career and the diverse opportunities the degree presented. I overcame the challenges I faced during my studies by galvanising support from my then manager, colleagues and family, as I had to had balance work and family. I occupied a senior position at the time, studying while also being a parent. The structure of the MPhil degree was done in such a way that we worked in groups, allowing me to notify my group members when I had a crisis at work or at home. One of the group members would then offer to assist with my allocated tasks. I also returned the generosity with kindness and offered the same support to my team members when they were faced with similar challenges.

Q: Briefly summarise your professional career, including your highlights/milestones and current position.

A: I started my career in the public sector as a trainee internal auditor and moved to work for an energy regulator as one of its first in-house internal auditors. Following this, I later joined one of the Big 4 consulting firms, where I was exposed to performing internal audits for some of the big companies in the country. I have also worked in the banking and retail industry in senior positions. I am currently self-employed as an independent internal audit consultant within the mining industry.

Q: To what extent did your studies at UP benefit you in your career and contribute to your success?

A: The MPhil degree enabled me to create new networks with fellow internal auditors who were already in very senior positions in their respective companies. I decided to become an internal audit consultant and some of my classmates have been instrumental in opening leads for me to find more consultancy work.

Q: Can you single out a special mentor/trusted advisor who played an indispensable role in your life/studies/career?

A: I do not have one person that I can single out, I was fortunate that at every stage of my career, there has been support in every industry I was in at that particular moment, be it public or the private sector. I received immense support from various individuals that I have kept as lifelong friends and mentors.

Q: Given your academic experience at UP, what advice can you pass on to current students?

A: I have noted that it is easy to be committed to your studies at undergraduate level because at that stage, it is the only thing you are focused on. At master’s degree level, people are assuming multiple roles simultaneously – work, parenting, studying and many other things. It is important to be totally committed to your studies, to the point of seeking support from those who are dependent on you. Letting loved ones know early on about your studies and work load is very important, so that you are not expected to participate in every family activity.

Q: What really inspires and motivates you?

A: My daughters inspire me and the need to demonstrate to them that one should pursue their dreams relentlessly and be the best version of themselves they want to be.

Q: What, in your opinion, is the foundation of a successful career?

A: Doing what you love is the foundation of a successful career, keeping abreast of new developments in your profession and understanding the purpose, contribution and impact of your profession on the world around you. Identify those who have achieved that which you want to achieve, study their secrets and implement where possible to do so. Always read books and be aware of trending topics, as the world is forever evolving.

Q: What do you enjoy the most about your chosen career path?

A: I enjoy the value-add that internal auditing provides through risk identification and adequacy assessment of internal controls in business processes. Internal auditors assist management to have reasonable assurance that they will achieve their strategic and operational objectives.

Q: Which business/trade-related or career-related publications (magazines/newspapers/blogs, etc.) do you enjoy reading?

A: I enjoy reading magazines such as The Internal Auditor magazine, because trending and emerging topics such as artificial intelligence, robotics etc are featured.

Q: If you could have a face-to-face meeting with an inspiring person – in any domain – who sets an example in transforming the world and inspiring others to do the same, who would it be and what would you like to discuss?

A: It will probably be Oprah Winfrey, although a great amount of her story and philanthropy, especially in relation to South Africa, are well documented. I always wonder how she has guarded her reputation so well and managed to have so much longevity in her career. A career as a talk-show host and speaker can sometimes lead to offending people, given your views, which may be contrary to those of others. However, Oprah Winfrey has managed to keep the offensiveness to a minimum. In my opinion, there has to be a wisdom, self-discipline and compassion she applies on a daily basis and that is what I would like to find out in a face-to-face meeting with her and learn more about her ability to stay guarded.

Q: What are your professional/business/personal aspirations?

A: I would like to contribute in future through participation in audit committee meetings and definitely transferring skills through lecturing on corporate governance, including internal audit’s role in governance.

Q: As a UP and EMS alumni, what makes you proud to be associated with the University?

A: UP has a very good reputation in South Africa for academic excellence. Moreover, UP internal audit graduates are also sought after by the Big 4 audit firms, which is testament that a UP qualification is perceived as high quality by industry.

Q: What are your hopes and aspirations for Africa and its people for the rest of this decade and beyond?

A: My hopes and aspirations for Africa are that we elect leaders that understand that we are the ones we have been waiting for and there are no others coming. Future generations can be exceptional leaders if we leave them with a solid and good legacy that they can build on. We need a paradigm shift to enable this. Africa has great potential and can be self-sufficient without always relying on aid from the West. With unity, mutual respect and sustainable trade amongst African countries, Africa can thrive. Developing new infrastructure and actively maintaining it, is crucial. We need to aim for sustainable growth in Africa.


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