An amazing journey with the Deloitte family
Ramsay McDonald is the managing partner for Deloitte Namibia and has been with the auditing firm for 32 years.
26 February 2021 | People
Ramsay McDonald completed high school at Kimberley Boys' High in South Africa in 1984. After school he was fortunate to get funded in part by a bursary from Pim Goldby (the predecessor of Deloitte) and partly by his father to study for a Bachelor of Commerce and a postgraduate diploma in accounting at the University of Cape Town from 1985 to 1988.
In 1989 he passed the board examination to qualify as a chartered accountant and completed his training contract with Deloitte.
“I spent two years with the Kimberley Deloitte office in a manager capacity before going on a short-term secondment to Deloitte in the United Kingdom, the Winnersh office. I then joined the Deloitte Namibian office in 1993 until 1997 and transferred to the Deloitte Cape Town office where I eventually became partner in 1999,” he says.
McDonald says that being in this position has been nothing but exciting. Last year was challenging but it was also interesting to see how people in the organisation dealt with the pandemic. New ways of working were invented and perfected.
He mentions that the most important accomplishments in life are often personal more than professional.
Becoming a qualified chartered accountant has opened a lot of doors for McDonald, even though it was not an easy process, and he can look back with absolute certainty that it was the right thing to do.
One of the many accomplishments he is proud of is being involved throughout his career with an entity of the De Beers Group of companies as a client, being involved in the drafting of regulations and being part of a team that started the Namibian Graduate School of Accounting.
The Namibian Graduate School of Accounting started the accreditation of local universities so that the time needed for Namibians with a Namibian degree to qualify as chartered accountants was shortened.
A challenge that he is currently facing is the turmoil that the profession is going through with increased regulation, increased monitoring by the regulators, significant adverse events and publicity putting the profession under increased scrutiny.
“The expectation gap between what auditors do and what the market would like us to do is not getting any narrower. We are focused on continuously raising the bar on audit quality requiring us to do more work to complete an audit,” he says.
“With a shortage of professional skills in Namibia we have a programme in place to train and qualify Namibians in various professional qualifications – notably the chartered accountant qualification but also in IT, internal audit, tax and HR to mention a few.”
Being part of the Namibian Deloitte family, what makes him proud is their contribution to the training and qualification of Namibian professionals. With what the firm has done in Namibia through investment in bursary schemes, the training programmes that they run and the support that they provide to individuals that made the choice to become not only a chartered accountant but a certified information specialist, taxation specialist, internal auditors and HR professionals. The work that the firm does through delivering auditing services, tax accounting and risk management advisory services makes a difference to their clients, markets and the public at large. This is a tremendously satisfying experience.
A typical day for Ramsay starts at 07:00 after dropping his son off at school. Then he would use the hour before the day officially starts to go through the emails that have arrived overnight, answering those that need immediate action and catching up with the day's news.
From there it typically starts with a series of meetings dealing with internal management related issues and a lot of Zoom or Skype calls.
One thing he would tell his younger self is to relax. “You are going down a path that you will enjoy, feel challenged and inspired by and that will deliver what you hoped for.” His best childhood memory is Sunday lunches with the family because it was time to relax with everyone that he loves.
“My son and I have started a project to restore a classic Mini, which I am looking forward to. It will give me a different challenge. I am also in the process of restoring a VW beetle for my daughter,” he says.
His advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is: “Believe in your ideas and have the courage to go after them and, most importantly, surround yourself with quality people and ideas. There may well be sacrifices, disappointments and failures along the way but if you persevere and remain true to your values you will eventually be successful.”
1. Facts about McDonald
a. Married with two children. Gabi, my daughter is aged 21 and studying to be a speech therapist at UCT in Cape Town and Ramsay (Jnr), my son, is aged 15 who is at St Paul's College in Grade 10.
b. I have now lived in Namibia the longest of any places in my life at a total of 22 out of my 54 years.
c. I have been with Deloitte for 32 years and worked in four different offices in three different countries and have not worked for any other company.
d. I have been a partner in the firm for 22 years.
e. Deloitte has taken me to 10 different countries for work purposes on three continents and two islands. I have worked with clients that have had representation on six of the seven continents.
f. I was named after the first Labour Party member to become the British Prime Minister in 1924 and with my son, will continue a family tradition of having the name Ramsay for four generations.
g. My son and daughter have both caught larger fishes than I have – My daughter with a 14 kg barbel and my son with 5.4 kg tiger fish.
h. No list of facts about me would be complete without mentioning that I drive a Mustang and enjoy every minute of it. Have you ever seen an unhappy Mustang driver?