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ICAEW profile: Kudzanai Mumbure

4 June 2020: BDO Associate Director Kudzanai Mumbure talks to ICAEW Insights about her experiences as an economic refugee, technology and the future of women in chartered accountancy.

It’s fair to say that Kudzanai Mumbure’s career has literally taken her places. After leaving her family and friends behind in Zimbabwe to work in London, she has worked in Kenya and the Caribbean across a range of sectors before returning to the UK and joining BDO in 2017. 

In this interview with ICAEW Insights, she outlines her journey as an economic refugee and examines the future of tech and women in chartered accountancy.

Do you see a more internationalised workforce of chartered accountants in the future or do you think isolationist trends, combined with measures to tackle the pandemic, will make it harder to diversify the workforce internationally?

I see a more internationalised workforce of chartered accountants in the future, despite the pandemic and nationalist tendencies of some countries. A lot of people have embraced travel, whether for business or pleasure. Whilst the pandemic has seen countries isolating, it has probably brought added awareness that we are all the same regardless of our nationality. We will all have a common story of where we were and how we dealt with the pandemic. If anything, it should foster common ground and for chartered accountants to explore where their skills are valued and required. 

How has your journey as an economic refugee from Zimbabwe to London affected your career and personal growth? Has this made you more resilient?

Initially, it felt like I was going backwards with my career because I was on a growth path of becoming an investment banker in Zimbabwe. In terms of personal growth, it also felt quite overwhelming to leave behind the only life I knew, my family and friends. I had to make new friends and adapt to a society that was alien to me. 

Most people surrounding me had different backgrounds and experiences from mine. In those initial days, I came across some really nice people who would be curious to know me and my story. Similarly, I met people who would prejudge me negatively, without making an effort to know me or simply not paying attention to anything I had to say. This brought about feelings of ‘impostor syndrome’, which subsequently affected my self-esteem.

Passing my ACA exams and riding on the positive energy from nice colleagues and new friends really helped me. It rebuilt my self-belief and made me reconnect with who I really was. I have definitely become more resilient as a result of all my experiences and I would not change any of it. I found myself relocating to two other different countries to internationalise my career after all this and enjoyed every minute of it.

How do you see the future of tech and women in chartered accountancy? ICAEW has signed the Tech She Can Charter. How important is tech in your day-to-day work?

I am quite excited that ICAEW has signed the Tech She Can Charter. It is encouraging to see how women's presence and involvement as specialists in Tech is steadily growing. I am yearning to see more women in chartered accountancy who bring the specialist skill in Tech sitting on Boards and Board Committees. This is something I see less of in my day-to-day work currently when I present to these Boards. Tech is extremely important in my daily work because we now rely on various systems to enable analytics and to discharge our reports. The pandemic has also magnified the importance of Tech as we have had to work remotely.

If you could go back in time and ask Mary Harris Smith one question, what would it be?

I would ask Mary Harris Smith what her thought process was immediately before she went back (again) to request admission as a member of the chartered accountancy body.

What advice would you give an aspiring female chartered accountant in 2020?

The profession will open so many possibilities for you in your career. It will provide you with flexibility to work in multiple jurisdictions due to the nature of the transferable skills. Exams will be challenging, training will be exciting and the growth will be swift and enjoyable. Keep an open mind, be curious and be fearless. It almost always pays off to put yourself forward for tasks and responsibilities.

For further stories like Mumbure’s, please visit our digital archive here.

For ICAEW’s resources on diversity and inclusion, please see our new D&I hub.