At age 14, Elton Pullen had already decided that he would become an Accountant. Fast forward to 2017, and not only did the 33 year old PhD student become a successful Chartered Accountant, but he was also recognized as one of the top young accountants by the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants.
Born and raised in Belhar (Cape Town), Elton says that his dream began when he was asked to do an assignment in Grade 9 about a profession that he would be interested in. He was good at accounting and loved the subject; so naturally, he decided that he would do the assignment on Chartered Accounting. He says the profession seemed “interesting and important”, and of course, he found out that Chartered Accountants earned “decent salaries”. He did research on what is required to become an accountant after which he set his plans in motion.
After completing matric, Elton went on to complete an Honours degree in Accounting at the University of the Western Cape. In 2008, after completing his Honours, he went to work as a Financial and Audit Manager for PricewaterhouseCoopers and in 2011, he became a Financial Manager for Sun Media. The following year in 2012, he pursued his personal interest in becoming an academic and joined the University of the Western Cape as a lecturer. Last year, he was promoted to Senior Lecturer. During this time, he completed a Masters in Financial Management at the University of Cape Town and this year he is busy with his Doctorate in Financial Management, also at the University of Cape Town.
His nomination as one of SA’s top young accountants was because of his work at an academic. Every year, the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) recognizes the top young chartered accountants in the country through their ‘Top 35 Under 35’ competition. As the name implies, only accountants under the age of 35 can be nominated and they are judged through their contributions to entrepreneurship, corporate accounting and academia.
Although he made much more than a ‘decent salary’ in the private sector, as he got a bit older, he became less interested in money and more interested in empowering future generations. His father was a teacher for 30 years so it made sense that he would have a desire to empower young minds. It was especially worrying to him that there were so few people of colour working as qualified accountants; so once again, he set his plan in motion. He joined the UWC staff and began to contribute towards the empowerment of young people of colour.
His contributions to empowerment have not gone unnoticed. He has been nominated as teacher of the year in the Faculty of Commerce for the past four years and he was made the deputy section head of the accounting department. He is also the first person to be promoted to Senior Lecturer in under 3 years.
When he is not working, he enjoys taking jogs and watching television shows with his wife. He also still enjoys playing “dumz” and klawerjas in the University Cafeteria.
To those wanting to pursue a degree in accounting, he says that it is a tough subject but if you are willing to work hard, you can make it. You must also be prepared to learn every day and you should never stop learning. But most importantly, always stay humble, treat everybody with respect and when the time comes, be willing to give back.