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ACCA Prize Winners Spotlight: Meet Chemutai Tanui, top in Kenya and 16th Worldwide


When Chemutai Tanui was a Bachelor of Commerce (BCOM) student at Strathmore University, her elder sister, also an alumna beseeched her to combine her studies with the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) course. Her sister, already working and combining this with sitting for the ACCA papers, knew the struggle that came with it and wanted to spare her of it.

However, Samantha lived up to the old adage – experience is the best teacher. She fully grasped the importance of completing the classes once she herself had tipped her tassle and become immersed in to the professional world.

“I started ACCA while I was an undergraduate student but the motivation to finish them wasn’t strong so I completed just a few. I definitely would have found it easier to study them then.”

What changed her mind?

“Once the excitement of graduation wore off and I began working, I realised that there is fierce competition in the professional world. In order to stand out, I would have to do something to boost my BCOM – Finance Option – degree qualification.”

She also felt she had left something unfinished.

This time, however, it would mean juggling her day time work at Unga Limited with evening classes at the Strathmore Institute of Management and Technology. In spite of this, she emerged the top in Kenya in the Strategic Business Leader exam in the December 2020 exam sitting. Worldwide, she was ranked 16th.

So how does a top student study? “I’d make sure I put in four hours daily into poring over the exam material, either in the early morning, during my lunch break or in the evening after working hours.”

The intense study meant that a few things needed to take the back stage. “Once you have a goal, you know that for a certain period of time, it is necessary to give up certain things. I categorized my activities into glass and plastic bolts. I can drop or let go of the plastic bolts for a while, for instance social activities, but with the glass bolts – work, family, mental health and my spiritual life – it would be detrimental to me if I dared drop these.”

The Covid-19 pandemic was a destabilizing factor that she, like many others, had to embrace with a sporting spirit. “We had to shift from in person class to studying through online platforms. The change wasn’t easy but the Institute made the transition seamless.”

She sits for her last two papers in June before joining the ranks of ACCA certified worldwide. With this, her career progression takes a step forward. “I’ve discovered that life after university is a process of continuous learning. There are milestones that one achieves according to their plan. But there are moments or experiences in life that sometimes forces you to recalibrate your plan, change direction and take more time in order to reach the end goal. I’m grateful I’ve reached a point where I’m comfortable with my own pace.”

The ACCA Qualification is the world leading accountancy qualification for aspiring financial professionals – providing students with the skills, knowledge and values to have successful careers and lead the organisations they work with into the future.


This article was written by Wambui Gachari.


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