From a young age, Daniel knew that accounting was the right career path for him. It was only at university, however, that he discovered his passion for tax, which motivated him to work hard and study further, and guided his career choices after graduation.
Daniel's journey to accomplishment hasn't been easy. The shift from high school to university can be difficult for even high-achieving students, and he found his marks beginning to slip. It took some tough talk from his parents and a personal realization to get his studies back on track. "I then realised that we live in a country with a struggling economy and that 25% of students graduating are left jobless," he recalls. "I knew I had to stand out from the crowd and give it my all." Particularly in such a competitive field, he knew that merely showing up wouldn't be enough to take him where he wanted to go. With this in mind, he committed to the hard work and long hours it would take to fulfil his true potential and make his family proud.
In his third year of university, his mother – one of his biggest supporters and motivators – passed away. Fortunately, his family and girlfriend rallied around him, giving him the encouragement he needed to stay focused on achieving his dream as he took on the challenge of his Honours degree – specializing in Tax, of course. "I worked extremely long hours and lived in the library," he says with a smile. All of the struggle and sacrifice came to fruition when he graduated with distinction. "The graduation was a highlight of my life. I was the only person to cum laude my degree in the entire ceremony, and was welcomed by an extremely humbling standing ovation." This recognition of his efforts has only motivated him to continue to aim high and achieve great things.
After university, he chose to do his articles at accounting firm Ernst & Young (EY), where he is currently a supervisor in the Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A) Tax Department. It was here that he discovered the Young Tax Professional of the Year competition, placing second when he competed in 2013. EY's Young Tax Professional of the Year is an international tax competition which tests the technical tax skills of young accountants from all over the world. As this year's winner of the South African competition, Daniel will be jetting off to Amsterdam at the end of the year to compete against winners from other countries for the top honour.
After the competition – which, of course, he hopes to win – he plans to finish his CFA level 3 next year, and continue to gain experience in M&A Tax. Beyond that, he hopes to become an expert in his field, and even perhaps be invited back to his alma mater as a guest lecturer one day, as "nothing brings me more joy than imparting my knowledge to others". Daniel lives by a simple principle: "Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. Quitting, however, lasts forever."