Meet: Rendani Tshishonga, Specialist: Finance, Governance and Human Resources in the Department of Institutional Advancement

Posted on February 05, 2021

“A greater diversity of personalities attest to a greater balance of strengths and weaknesses,” says Tshishonga, who tells Tukkievaria more about his career.

Rendani Tshishonga chats to Tukkievaria about why he chose to work at UP, what his role in the Department of Institutional Advancement entails, and how the lessons he learnt from his father have seen him through the years.

Where did you work prior to joining UP?

During school holidays I worked as a finance controller, marketer, debt collector and driver in the family business, Lufred Financial Services. These responsibilities paved the way to a career in finance. As a graduate trainee, I worked in the enforcement and compliance division of the South African Revenue Service (SARS), focusing specifically on auditing the tax affairs of individuals and companies.

What attracted you to UP? 

Among the things that drew me to joining UP were the sense of professionalism and the institution’s acceptance of diversity. Moreover, opportunities do not happen in a vacuum – we create them. In 2001, I accompanied my sister when she visited her friend who was a UP student. During the visit I focused my attention, collected a considerable amount of commercial subject data and took note of the friend’s positive comments about the institution. I then made an informed decision to enrol for a BCom degree and eventually graduated from UP. Our visit to the UP turned out to have been a “divine leading”. During my student years, my interactions with academic and support staff, and my realisation of their superb professionalism, convinced me to join the support staff at UP, where I have remained for the past nine years. 

What does your day-to-day role entail?

The specific skills required for this position include a formal accounting qualification, interpersonal skills, good communication skills, financial reporting, analytical ability, problem-solving skills, knowledge of IT software and management experience. To be precise, I monitor and facilitate receipts of third-stream income, issue section 18A tax certificates to donors, and regularly liaise with both internal and external stakeholders. I also provide BBBEE and tax benefits advice in respect of various funding models, and ensure maximum compliance with financial and HR policies.

What would you like to improve in your section/department, and why?

The COVID-19 pandemic has had an immense impact on our work environment and has emphasised the importance of digital technology, which forced us to explore alternate work environment systems. In practical terms I would like every member of our department’s staff to have access to the financial system in order to process any request while we work remotely. Furthermore, with the assistance of IT, I would like to create a special donor or sponsor app for each of our stakeholders as we are already in the fourth industrial revolution. This approach will simplify and fast-track our work and ensure continued good relationships with our external stakeholders.

What do you enjoy most about your job, and why?

My job requires me to work with various stakeholders and it is important to be conscious of the diversity in personalities. I appreciate the differences between the people with whom I interact as I understand why they act the way they do and how to get their full cooperation. Key aspects of my work are attention to detail, the provision of a quality service and adherence to the values of UP. I continuously liaise with writers, communicators and marketers, which include a wide variety of personalities. It is therefore essential to balance strengths and weaknesses, which is important to our institution. Being in such a work environment creates an awareness of the fact that every institution needs different people to fulfil different roles that fit together like the pieces of a puzzle and drive the institution forward.

What is your least favourite part of the job?

In my position, feedback is a key responsibility. Sometimes I have to wait for approval processes to be completed before data can be processed. This sort of waiting period can be frustrating, but I have learnt to be patient. Nevertheless, while waiting, I often wish that I could make those responsible for providing feedback understand how important prompt feedback is to our daily operations. I have devised some creative, funny and charming ways to speed up the process. For example, I make follow-up phone calls or approach colleagues with a charming smile and, if it works, I immediately receive the required feedback.

What do you do in your free time?

I read a variety of genres and play soccer. I also write and publish motivational articles in newspapers to encourage youth and young entrepreneurs. I advise them not to give up during these trying socio-economic times. I also share my views on the economy and any finance-/business-related topics in broadcasts from a community radio station called Vhembe FM. This is how I fulfil my social responsibility in our community.

What are your personal likes and dislikes?

My late father, a pastor, often said: “Nothing will stand the test of time.” I realised that he meant that sometime in the future he would no longer be around and I would have to face the real world without his support and with a positive attitude. What I liked most about his teachings was that in life there is no challenge greater than the challenge to improve yourself. I like to learn new things all the time, to improve in every area of my life, face new challenges and become more creative and innovative. I also like to motivate people to believe that they have what it takes to achieve their dreams.

I dislike bullies and people who lack respect for another person’s culture, race, gender and beliefs. However, I believe that laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face, and avoid confrontation whenever possible.

Quick quiz:

Sport: Soccer – I am a loyal fan of Kaizer Chiefs and Chelsea

Food:  Steak and pap or chips

Movies: Man on Fire, Equalizer, Taken and Love Don’t Cost a Thing

Actors: Denzel Washington, Liam Neeson and Nick Cannon (My high school mates told me that I look like him and made me watch the movie Love Don’t Cost a Thing.)

Musician: Takie Ndou (gospel musician from Limpopo)

All-time hero: My father, Pastor MF Tshishonga, who continuously reminded me that a person can succeed at almost anything for which he or she has unlimited enthusiasm.


- Author Jimmy Masombuka

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