24 April 2023 | Story Gerda-Marié van Rooyen | Photo G Photography
Franco Smit
Franco Smit, a B Accounting graduate from the University of the Free State (UFS), was awarded the Senate Medal and Prize, and the Dean of Economic and Management Sciences’ Medal. He credits his adaptability and dedication for his academic success and believes accountants and CA(SA)s with specific competencies in leadership roles will ensure effective and ethical actions at big corporations.

Franco Smit, a B Accounting graduate, was awarded the Senate Medal and Prize, and the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences Dean’s Medal at the April graduation ceremony on Wednesday 19 April 2023. He received these awards for achieving the highest weighted average across all undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications in all faculties of the University of the Free State (UFS), and for obtaining the best results in his faculty, respectively. Smit, a first-generation student, believes adaptability and dedication have been key to his academic success – especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, as he had to adjust to online teaching and going back to campus full time.

Smit’s hard work during high school earned him the fifth spot in the 2019 Free State matric results and he subsequently received a bursary from the Free State Premier's Office. Currently, he is pursuing his honours degree in B Accounting at the UFS and aspires to gain admission to take the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) first board exam in order to do his three-year articles at an audit firm to ultimately qualify as a chartered accountant (CA[SA]).

This award-winning graduate’s ultimate dream is to become a chief financial officer (CFO) of a JSE top-40 listed entity, which he believes would be the culmination of the hard work he has committed to since the beginning. He chose to study B Accounting over medicine, as he had a natural understanding of accounting concepts and knew that the CA(SA) title could open numerous doors for him.

According to Smit, studying at the UFS has been a great experience, as one is not just a number, but rather part of a community. “The UFS School of Accountancy has a solid reputation with SAICA for providing an excellent programme to qualify as a CA(SA), as evidenced by the UFS’ consistently high pass rate, which is above the national average for all universities.”

This prospective CFO strongly believes that accountants and CAs have a responsibility to create a better world. He sees the increasing role of AI and technological developments in the future of work and believes SAICA has undertaken many programmes and interventions to ensure that accountants and CAs remain relevant to corporate organisations and companies. He thinks that accountants and CAs with specific competencies in stronger leadership roles will ensure effective and ethical actions at big corporations. “CAs should be at the forefront to (ethically) lead corporate South Africa into a new era characterised by rejuvenation, ethical practices, and giving back to the people they serve.”

Smit says receiving the Senate and Dean’s medals is an incredible honour and privilege. He believes these awards will mean a lot to his professional career, as they testify to his perseverance, hard work, and passion for accounting. He hopes this will increase his marketability in “today's competitive job market, especially for new graduates”.

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