It’s been quite a week for us in South Africa.
First of all, after two years on the ground, Colin Timmis has been promoted to the position of Country Manager. Well done Colin! We’ll see him doing more of what he’s great at – helping even more accounting firms and small businesses thrive.
It was then really exciting to open up our annual global XDHax Xero Virtual Developer Challenge to South African technology entrepreneurs for the first time – giving them the chance to compete and scale up on a global scale.
We spoke to Sarah Minns, who has been at Xero for five years. Last month she returned to South Africa from the UK with her husband and dog. Here’s what she had to say:
Where did it all start for you?
I was born in Zimbabwe in 1977. In 1979 we moved to South Africa for my dad’s job. He was an electrician in the mines so we travelled around the country before settling on the East Coast of Kwa-Zulu Natal, with its glistening beaches, mountains and safaris.
Why did you leave?
In the 90s, South Africa wasn’t too prosperous. The right sort of career opportunities for me were few and far between. So I decided to pursue a career in accounting in the UK and live with my aunt. It felt like the right move for me to succeed in the accounting profession.
One of my first jobs was working as an accounts assistant for a small business in Milton Keynes – where I got my AAT accreditation. I was there for 12 years and in that time, got stuck into the account management side of things, which I loved.
That’s when I discovered Xero. The product immediately stood out, and it was clear this was a company I wanted to get involved with. So I was thrilled to get offered a job as Associate Account Manager.
Why did you return to South Africa?
Simple – to help small business in South Africa achieve greater potential through the adoption of Xero.
Also, as much as I’ve loved living in the UK, South Africa is, and always will be my spiritual home. As the saying goes, “you can take yourself out of Africa, but Africa never leaves you”.
I’m really excited about what the future holds for Xero and accounting profession as a whole in South Africa – it was too good an opportunity not to miss.
I’m spending a lot of time meeting accountants face-to-face. This was something I didn’t have the luxury of doing from the UK, so this has been great.
I’m a regular at Truth Coffee (a Xero customer), so you’ll often find me there either working remotely or having a catch up with an accountant. You’d be hard pushed to find a better cup of coffee in Cape Town!
My husband Richard and dog Toast have also made the move back with me. They’re both enjoying the warmer weather.
What excites you about working for Xero in South Africa?
I get to be part of an exciting journey, similar to the one that I’ve been lucky to be part of in the UK.
Every day I get to challenge myself to strive forward and solve business problems for small businesses and their advisors.
The small business community here is massive and I want to help them flourish and succeed in a potentially challenging environment.
What advice would you give to anyone else thinking about moving with their job?
Do it! Travelling and spending time in other countries is great for the heart and you will grow as a person so much more having done it.
Just don’t forget to research all of the requirements (legal, logistical, personal) before making the move. Sounds dull, but it’s pretty important you get things like this right.
What are you going to miss about the UK?
Most definitely friends and family!
Rowing in the summer with Milton Keynes Rowing Club
What aren’t you going to miss most about living in the UK?
Most definitely the long, cold, dark winter months and of course rowing in the winter