Studying at UP contributed to his successful career as a tax law specialist “to the fullest extent imaginable”, stresses alumnus Nico Theron. “If it were not for my studies at the University of Pretoria, I would not have had access to the fantastic lecturers who imparted not only their knowledge to me, but more importantly, their passion for the subjects they taught. It is a passion for tax law that has driven me over the full extent of my career to achieve more. This continues to drive me every day.” Read more about his career, goals and interests below.
Q: What is your current position and what does it entail?
A: I am the founder of Unicus Tax Specialists SA, a niche tax consulting firm in Pretoria. We focus solely on providing tax services for corporates and individuals.
Q: Briefly summarise your career since graduating from UP, with special mention of specific highlights/milestones.
A: After completing my undergrad degree (BCom Law) at the University of Pretoria, I started at a small accounting firm where I was fortunate enough to learn the basics of accounting and how the tax system fits into the accounting picture and gained valuable exposure to the tax compliance landscape.
Thereafter I joined PKF Johannesburg (which later merged with Grant Thornton) in their corporate tax compliance department and soon moved into the corporate tax consulting division. During my time at PKF/Grant Thornton, I completed both my honours and master’s degrees in Taxation through the University of Pretoria.
After just short of four years, I joined a tax consulting firm in Johannesburg and some three odd years later, in April of 2017, I started my own tax consulting practice where we focus on tax dispute resolution, ruling applications, Voluntary Disclosure Programme (VDP) applications, opinions, etc. Starting my own firm is the single biggest highlight of my career so far, second only to the many great successes we’ve had in resolving our clients’ tax matters.
Q: To what extent did your studies at UP benefit you in your career and contribute to your success?
A: To the fullest extent imaginable. If it were not for my studies at the University of Pretoria I would not have had access to the fantastic lecturers who imparted not only their knowledge to me but more importantly, their passion for the subjects they taught. It is a passion for tax law that has driven me over the full extent of my career to achieve more and to advance. This continues to drive me every day.
Q: Given your academic experience at UP, what advice can you pass on to current students?
A: There are very few things in life that are more satisfying than knowing your field very well – the starting point to achieving that goal is studying at the University.
Q: What, in your opinion, is the foundation of a successful business/company/consultancy/organisation?
A: A solid academic foundation of your area of work, which may be obtained from university, a basic understanding of financial accounting, practical workplace experience, passion, tenacity, good relationship skills and high ethical standards.
Q: Which business/trade-related publications (magazines/newspapers/blogs, etc.) do you enjoy reading?
A: The Taxpayer and TaxTalk.
Q: What really inspires or motivates you personally?
A: I am inspired by other people like Richard Branson, Albert Einstein and Beethoven. I am motivated by a hunger for knowledge.
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: Richard Branson. I would like to discuss his business models, precisely because I am inspired by them – a focus on quality, not quantity and on value-for-money principles.
Q: Going forward, what are your career, personal goals?
A: I would like to continue to grow my firm to become as big as possible – without undermining the focus on quality and value-for-money principles.