Students in 60 seconds – Sakala and Katumbi

John Sakala, accountant at Stancom Tobacco Services in Zambia, explains how his studies have helped him move up the career ladder

When at school, Professional Scheme student John Sakala thought his career would be in agriculture or science. But on the advice of his brother-in-law, he reconsidered and instead turned to accountancy. He started by enrolling on the National Accounting Technician Programme, run by the Zambia Institute of Chartered Accountants, taking only two years to complete the programme. John became an affiliate of the Institute in 2003, and started his ACCA studies in April 2003.

John’s first job was as a tobacco buyer for Dimon-Zambia, a tobacco financing and marketing company. He then joined the National Pension Scheme Authority on a six month contract as an accounting officer, before moving to Clark Cotton as an accounts clerk, where he worked for two years and six months. He was appointed junior accountant at Stancom Tobacco Services in February this year, and is continuing his ACCA studies with the support and encouragement of his employer.

The new job is a definite step up the career ladder. ‘My new role is more managerial than my previous positions,’ John explains. ‘My responsibilities include the preparation of the weekly cash flow forecast for tobacco purchases, ensuring the safe custody of cash used to pay farmers, processing weekly reports for the Tobacco Board of Zambia, and supervising administration and IT staff.’

John is sure that his ACCA studies helped him get his new job: ‘ACCA really is a passport to any job within the finance profession. My studies give me a maturity and an awareness of international issues, which I discovered the other applicants did not have. ACCA also enjoys excellent publicity in Zambia, and as a result employers value the qualification highly, and have great confidence in the ability of ACCA students and members. I still find it surprising that I have managed to get where I am today by having the courage to study and work hard.’