As young Namibians struggle with career choices, the Windhoek Observer (WO) recently caught up with Elizabeth Shipanga (ES), the Finance Manager of unlisted investments manager, Ino Harith Capital, to talk about her career, future plans and role within the organisation.
WO: Who is Elizabeth Shipanga?
ES: I grew up in Ovambo location in Katutura with my mother. I went to school in Windhoek and did my undergrad at The Polytechnic of Namibia (now known as the University of Science and Technology.) I am a fun loving person, who believes in making the most of opportunities and maintaining a firm stance in one’s belief system.
I love working with people and learning from all spheres of life. I am prudent, idealistic and meticulous, and I would like to think, creative.
WO: What does it take for one to become a Finance Manager?
ES: Besides having the appropriate finance qualifications/experiences and the love of working with figures and detail, I believe it takes a compliment of many aspects such as being meticulous, diligent, quick-witted, being firm, being able to work with other people, being well vested with the dynamics in your economy and developmental challenges, being idealistic, being orderly, and most importantly, having integrity.
WO: What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
ES: Making people aware of the compliance element that comes into play in my industry.
It is not easy to teach people how important financial regulatory compliance elements are. These elements are very detailed. It can become a hot debate; which is actually quite refreshing at times because you get to understand the other party’s point of view better while trying to convince them about the necessity of compliance with regulations.
WO: Have you ever had to handle a crisis related to your work? What did you do?
ES: It depends on what one considers a crisis! Different people will have different views on what a crisis is to them. I would refer to the circumstance as a challenge and not a crisis per se.
Challenges are inevitable and in my line of work you have them at least bi-weekly. With any challenge I categorize them into three areas namely, critical, urgent and important, and once I have diagnosed the urgency of it, I then follow through with the solution of either being hands on myself and resolving the matter swiftly or from facilitating on a higher level.
WO: How important are other departments in the organisation in relation to your work?
ES: Other departments are absolutely imperative; just as an orchestra cannot function without bowstring instruments, I would not be functional in meeting standard deadlines.
WO: How did you end up in your current role?
ES: This is actually a very long story, but I initially wanted to be a doctor (a gynecologist) and that didn’t work out, so I went for the accounting field as a second option.
I had always said that I was going to finish my accounting degree and go pursue medicine, but little did I know that my plans were not God’s plans. I grew to love the finance side of accounting and pursued my postgrad in the Risk Management and Investments field. I loved it and got an opportunity to pursue the investment side with Ino Harith as well.
WO: If you were given a second chance to pick a career path, would you still pick finance?
ES: Certainly yes! This is why I am currently pursuing my Masters in Development Finance with the University of Stellenbosch.
WO: Looking at the demanding role of running a finance department, how do you handle the pressure?
ES: This may sound typical, but one actually gets used to the pressure. It became second nature to me because I do not just hold the portfolio of Finance Manager, but three others too. Therefore, the demand of work to be done is always present and one needs to always deliver.
WO: What skills do you have that would help you accomplish your work?
ES: Patience, integrity and being quick-witted.
WO: Do you think people who work in finance get the recognition they deserve?
ES: Honestly, no! We are the backbone of any company and we know exactly what is transpiring within the company as custodians of compliance, accounting, IT, marketing, human resource, investments etc. I believe it can be improved by giving the finance people a voice at the table. That’s all I will say otherwise I will get in trouble.
WO: What motivates you?
ES: My mother motivates me. She is the embodiment of beauty, brains, power and humility. I would not have achieved any of my goals without her motivations and great support. She is the most important driving force in my life.