As Chief Financial Officer of Okavango Diamond Company, Susanne Swaniker-Tettey FCCA has helped set up the rough diamond distribution company from scratch on the tightest of timetables.
While Africa can be a tough place to work, it offers key opportunities for skilled financial professionals who can develop an understanding of how African business operates. Susanne Swaniker-Tettey FCCA, chief financial officer at Okavango Diamond Company (ODC), is one such specialist. ODC is a Botswana-based rough diamond distribution company established in 2012 and wholly owned by the government – the diamond sector is critical for the national economy.
Swaniker-Tettey has more than a decade of experience working in Africa and believes its commercial environment has moulded her successful career path. ‘Working in the finance sector in Southern Africa, especially Botswana, can be very challenging,’ she says. Her daily routine is based on the corporate reporting, audit and business planning regime typical in sub-Saharan Africa, where finance personnel often take an active management role and may act as think-tanks for other departments.
In the 10 years she has been working with companies producing copper, nickel, diamonds and more, she says that she has learned to be proactive and take time to understand the needs of all employees. ‘One needs to be inquisitive because, if you are not, people will pull the wool over your eyes.
Company reorganisation and finance process design is one area of expertise that Swaniker-Tettey has developed throughout her 16-year accounting and finance career that started with her gaining her ACCA Qualification in 1998.
‘In setting up a business process, you need a different mindset from an ordinary accountant,’ she says. ‘You need a lot of cross-functional skills that would impact on human resources and operations.’
Her ACCA training has been valuable. ‘With an ACCA Qualification, you are not there just as an accountant but there to be a partner in business,’ she says. ‘ACCA, I believe, has opened a number of doors for me. If it was not for ACCA, I do not believe I could be here at ODC.’
This is an exerpt from an article in Accounting and Business magazine, first published in November 2014.