Born into a family of four children and raised in Newcastle, Kwazulu-Natal, Jen Smith worked in multiple towns and cities across the country before settling on her true calling, as a quality assurance supervisor for Saiba.
She recalls with fondness what it was like growing up in Newcastle. “I remember the freedom we used to have as kids, we would explore around the place, had secret hide outs and would play in the bushes without our parents having to worry about our safety. It’s a pity that this generation of children will not experience the fun we had as children.”
Jen started her working career as a receptionist. For most of her youth, she worked and lived in different towns and cities around the country, and in many different fields, from banking, construction, and healthcare. For a couple of years, Jen and her two children lived in the USA, while Jen worked for Northwest Missouri State University. She describes it as one of the greatest experiences of her career.
“I was asked to give lectures on multiculturalism in my spare time. I enjoyed it.”
In addition to her multi-industry experience, she owned a restaurant and a farm stall which supplied the restaurant with fresh organic products. Jen is a mother of two boys and a grandmother of three children. She’s also an artist, whose paintings are displayed in homes, businesses and bed and breakfast establishments throughout the country. Many of her paintings have also found their way to Australia and the USA. Her execution of artistry comes during her spare time, which also includes gardening and animal rescue.
Her journey with Saiba started in 2019 as a business consultant, working her way up to quality assurance supervisor, where she oversees the membership team of personal portfolio consultants (PPCs) as well as the designation application assessments process.
It is fortunate that prior to the start of the lockdown in March of this year, Jen had already become accustomed to remote working. When the Covid lockdown came in March of 2019, the transition to remote working was relatively easy. However, it does have its drawbacks – particularly, the difficulty of stepping away from the computer, even for a lunch break.
What do you love about working for Saiba?
“I’m always learning. The environment is fast-paced and filled with new discoveries as well as challenges. Saiba is a home for the rebels of the accounting profession and we not being afraid to question or lobby the government for the benefit of our members. I love working with people who are innovative and forward thinking and who are not afraid to take chances and make changes.”
Jen is always invested in helping members and always tries to see things from the member’s perspective. “Our members are our number one priority. However, some make it difficult when they don’t respect our privacy and abuse our private numbers and call after hours and sometimes as early as 2:00am.”
How can you advise members to better use the services at Saiba?
- Partnership discounts – members need to check on the website and see who our partners and get 50% discounts for using the services and products of these partners. If you are part of another institution which is partnered with Saiba, you get 50% discount on your membership fees.
- Legal services – members can get legal advice concerning their business. This benefit comes with holding a Saiba designation, at no extra cost to their membership fees.
- Find an accountant – Saiba recently created a platform for members to advertise their services and businesses. All they need to do is apply and provide the necessary information. Upon approval, their business will appears the “Find an Accountant” page where clients can book or request their services.
- Professional indemnity insurance – this is to ensure that you are covered for professional liability, ad is exclusive to BAP (SA) designation holders.
- Accounting Weekly blog and newsletter – Accounting Weekly has news relating to the accounting profession posted daily and sends out a newsletter every week to recap on what has been happening in and around the accounting profession.
What do you feel are the best services offered by Saiba?
Saiba’s designations offer a lot of benefits, especially our BAP(SA) designation. Our Saiba Academy is freshly launched and we are still experiencing teething problems, which is to be expected. All the information that members need is on their profile, so all you need is to read through your profile. There are tools to assist you, such as guides and webinars to help you upskill, as well as information on Covid-related matters and a lot more. Mailers are sent out on a regular basis, where we inform you of changes and developments. We urge members to read them. Google is an amazing tool and Saiba’s website is easy to navigate and has keywords for easy referencing.