CFO Custodian of Zimbabwe’s Iconic Hotels

When the only certainty is the uncertainty of the economy, a CFO requires critical skills and stamina to manage in such a dynamic environment, skills that Believe Dirorimwe has honed over the past 12 years at African Sun Hotels.

CIARAN RYAN: Today’s podcast is sponsored by Draftworx, which provides automated drafting and working paper financial software to more than 8000 accounting and auditing firms and corporations. CFO Talks is a brand of the South African Institute of Business Accountants. It’s my great pleasure today to welcome Believe Dirorimwe, who is CFO at African Sun Hotels, that’s a group managing eleven hotels in Zimbabwe. Now, some of those familiar with Zimbabwe will recognize some of these iconic landmarks such as the Monomotapa Hotel in Harare, the Victoria Falls Hotel and the Troutbeck Resort in Nyanga. Believe is a CA, he’s a fellow of the ACCA and he has an MBA as well from Warwick University in the UK, and we’re going to find out a little bit more about that in a minute. Believe has held four different positions at African Sun Hotels, where he has worked since 2009, he’s been instrumental in the group’s restructuring, transactions, expansion, downsizing and capital raising. Currently he’s working with the MD on the group’s strategic drive, including key deliverables such as integration or consolidation of the businesses, and that’s after recently acquiring an integrated property company that owns seven of the hotels operated by the group. First of all, welcome Believe, we’re talking to you from Harare, correct?

BELIEVE DIRORIMWE: Yes, you are talking to me from Harare.

CIARAN RYAN: And that’s where the head quarters are for the African Sun Hotels?

BELIEVE DIRORIMWE: Yes, that’s where the head office is.

CIARAN RYAN: I think a good place to start would be just to explain to people who are not familiar, what makes up African Sun Hotels? It sounds like it’s an offshoot to the old Southern Sun Hotels, but maybe you can explain how it came to be.

BELIEVE DIRORIMWE: Thank you, Ciaran. Let me start by thanking you for having me here and that was a warm welcoming introduction you gave. I hope you are doing well as well and that you’re staying safe in these Covid times, not mentioning the recent disturbances we are seeing in South Africa.

CIARAN RYAN: Yes, thank you for that, there are some disturbances here, but life will go on.

BELIEVE DIRORIMWE: Just to give a bit of history, the company started operating around 1952 as Rhodesia and Nyasaland Hotels (Private) Limited, it was a wholly owned subsidiary of our national breweries here in Zimbabwe. I think they used to call it Rhodesia then. Over time the breweries grew and then I think at some point around 1979, the company grew into Sable Hotels (Private) Limited and went into a shareholding structure with Meikles Hotels and they were renamed to Meikles Southern Sun Hotels. They became the largest hotel chain in Southern and Eastern Africa, by then I think they were operating about 13 hotels at the time. But what then happened over time was that the South African Breweries had an interest in our own breweries here, so what they then did was at some point they had to mirror the business strategy, where the breweries here had a shareholding in hotels and so they did likewise in South Africa. So at some point the two were related, like you mentioned earlier, but because of what then happened post the unbundling, at some point we also had OK in the group. So the unbundling continued up to a point where our own national breweries here stood on its own, so did OK and so did African Sun Hotels. That’s the brief background on the group.

‘Domestic tourism remains the biggest contributor to everything that we do.’

CIARAN RYAN: So it was an outgrowth of the Zimbabwe Breweries, which was an outgrowth of the South African Breweries and Southern Sun Hotels, of course, it came from that. You really do have some very iconic hotels, we mentioned Monomotapa Hotel, the Victoria Falls Hotels at Victoria Falls, one of the great tourist attractions in the world. The obvious question is how has the group been surviving during the Covid lockdowns and the virtual shutdown of tourism in the region?

BELIEVE DIRORIMWE: Good question, Ciaran. I think let me just give you one interesting fact about the industry. The industry is very, very sensitive to such disturbances, especially outbreaks, it is very quick to respond by shutting down and also very, very slow to react to changes or improvement in the environment. So it’s never easy, even if you say Covid is done tomorrow, you’re not going to have the graph pointing north of your occupancies increasing in an instant like that. So it’s never easy in this particular industry. Coming to the Covid issue, it hasn’t been easy, it has been very tough over the last 18 months. It’s also a first for me that you have to shut hotels, at some point you didn’t have occupancy, zero occupancy when we started these lockdowns in April and May last year, we had zero occupancy, which is quite unusual after having spent so much time in the group. When lockdowns were eased a bit, there was some traffic to the hotels but not as much as we would have liked. I would then say that maybe from then we survived pretty much by ourselves, sticking close together. About three things helped to sustain the group to where we are now, I know we are still facing Covid but to be this far…if you have a moment and you read some of our financial history, we’d had a good run where we were restructuring our balance sheet over the years, and among the things that we did, one which was critical was to actually eliminate debt from our balance sheet. So Covid came, found us, we didn’t have debt, we didn’t have any pressure of our [unclear], sometimes negotiating for any restructuring with lenders can be a marathon on its own and certain instances might actually lead to losing assets or shareholding if you’re not careful. So Covid found us very clean and all the money we had was just to ourselves. Then the second bit I think in this market of Zimbabwe, domestic tourism remains the biggest contributor to everything that we do in the industry. So I think it ranges in the region of about 50% to 55% and about 45% is then the foreign tourism or inbound into the country. So the market really responded well…

CIARAN RYAN: Sorry, Believe, let me just interrupt you there. Those figures that you’ve just given there, 45%, just explain what they are.

BELIEVE DIRORIMWE: The domestic market here in terms of business, as far as tourism is concerned, gives us 45% of room nights. So at any given time if you sell 100 rooms, the chances are that 50-plus are all locals, so it could be local tourism, it could be local business, it could be anything but you are guaranteed it’s a Zimbabwean entity or person who is occupying 50% of your rooms at any given time. So 45% is now the foreign tourism visiting pretty much Victoria Falls and business around Harare. So each time we sell 100 rooms, 55% you’re guaranteed could be locals and then 45% could be foreign. This is under normal circumstances.

CIARAN RYAN: And now that situation clearly has changed.

BELIEVE DIRORIMWE: It has changed. As I said from September to December 2020, your local performance had actually reached back to the 2018/2019 levels. So this market responded very well and we had one of the highest festive seasons we’ve ever had in the country I think at a point, people were tired of this cabin fever and they had to shake it off a bit. So we pretty much survived on our domestic market and it helped us to go a long way. Then I think the third one, like any other business, we actually had to right-size, we changed a few structures in the organisation, pretty much focusing on cash preservation. For the size of our company, like I said, we had decent cash reserves that has helped to sustain us this far in terms of difficulties and in certain instances of 100% hotel closure, we did that in April and May 2020, as well as January and February this year, we had another lock down. We are currently again in another lockdown, hotels are operating as essential services but while the rest of the economy is still on a lockdown, you can assume what will be happening to the occupancy, so there isn’t much business coming through. Hopefully in the next two weeks the numbers will calm down and we can resume business at relatively decent levels.

CIARAN RYAN: Has Zimbabwe followed the South African lockdown? This past week President Ramaphosa announced a two-week extension of the lockdown. Is it the same thing in Zimbabwe?

BELIEVE DIRORIMWE: Yes, we pretty much follow the template that you have in South Africa, but I think of late ours has been slightly different from South Africa. We still have a very good level of business, businesses are still going on in Zimbabwe. But the problem with lockdown is whilst you want certain elements of the economy to remain open, when you shut the other it’s like an ecosystem, we survive on each other. So essential survives on non-essential, so if you shut down non-essential, I don’t know who the essential is going to serve. Currently we are at a point where the decisions are very difficult to make for the government, Covid cases are going up, debts are going up and I think the noble thing to do right now is to try and contain people and restrict movement at the moment.

CIARAN RYAN: So obviously the expectation and something you and the group would like to see is a relaxation of this lockdown in the next few weeks, so that you can start selling rooms again. Up until the point of the lockdown, the domestic tourists had basically replaced whatever loss there was in terms of international tourism, is that a fair reflection of what has happened?

BELIEVE DIRORIMWE: Yes, definitely, there was a resurgence on the domestic market in both elements, that is your leisure business, as well as business travel. I mentioned the issue of cabin fever but what really came back strongly was on the business front, our main customers, l think like any other economy anywhere, is government, as well as corporates and NGOs. So with all the lockdowns that were happening, you can imagine what was going through, obviously from an NGO perspective and government, programming was behind in all those things. We also had a scenario where I think the government was also behind on certain programmes with parliament, budgets and things like that. So when the lockdowns eased a bit, there was some pressure on most of those departments and NGOs to be up to date with their programming, their budgets. So we were quite busy towards the end of 2020, literally just a few days before the festive season is when the numbers starting slowing down. But you can imagine the amount of catch up all these entities wanted to do. I touched on the leisure market earlier on. We had a very good festive season in 2020 when the domestic market was really trying to shake off this cabin fever, Covid stress and people were actually up and about travelling and enjoying our nice facilities across the country.

CIARAN RYAN: Just a point I seem to remember some years ago, do you have like a two-tier system, in other words, overseas tourists pay a different tariff to domestic tourists, and you pay in a different currency or is that not the case?

BELIEVE DIRORIMWE: It’s always there, the rates are structured that way, differently, and most importantly, it’s not really segmentation or segregation or anything like that but in any economy you’d want your own locals to enjoy their tourism facilities much more than any foreigners. So things like tax applies differently to locals than it does to foreign tourists. The pricing is definitely different, locals versus foreign.

CIARAN RYAN: Okay, are there any plans to repurpose some of the hotels for the new environment that we find ourselves in? This is something that we’re starting to hear a little bit about around the world, how hotels are being repurposed more for longer-term stays for conferences, that kind of thing. Any plans like that for African Sun Hotels?

BELIEVE DIRORIMWE: We are about 18 months into Covid, as Zimbabwe, perhaps other countries could be two years now. I have mentioned that from the information we rely on, we are going to have about another 12 months for business to get back to normal, that also includes for the airline travel to pick up. The worst is not beyond the realm of possibility to have a relook at some of the hotels or a change of model or a change of use. Our view right now is that Covid is an event, it may last three years, but we do not think that our destination or strategy as far as our current hotels is concerned should be defined by such an event in the short period. There’s still scope for resumption of business in the normal way, this is what we see. You can’t have virtual tourism unfortunately. So we believe at some point at the right time that things will fall back into place. For instance, if you look at Victoria Falls as a destination, it would be very difficult to repurpose such facilities aligning it to Covid. So about having different facilities or repurposing some of them, this may come up maybe in our expansion programme but right now the focus remains on hospitality in the strict traditional sense, we are not yet at that point, in our view, to redirect our strategy or any of our properties, linking it or aligned to Covid, if I can put it that way.

CIARAN RYAN: Now, changing direction here, tell us a bit about yourself and where you grew up and how you ended up within the African Sun Hotels group, how did that all begin?

BELIEVE DIRORIMWE: I’m actually a country boy, I grew up and a significant part of my life was spent in the Eastern Highlands, at some point if you were in Zimbabwe, you would understand Mutare…

CIARAN RYAN: You’re from Mutare, so you know the Nyanga mountains very well.

BELIEVE DIRORIMWE: Very well, yes. I did my schooling in Manicaland at Hartzell High School, I was a boarder, the school provided boarding facilities from primary all the way up to secondary education. My parents were in Harare, though, so I would come to Harare in the holidays, but I would spend most of my time in Manicaland with uncles and going back to school. After my schooling in Manicaland, I came to Harare full-time and I went to University of Zimbabwe and I did my first degree, I studied accounting there. I must say, I was very fortunate, at the point of finishing I already had about three jobs waiting for me. But I decided to then do my articles and train into chartered accountancy with one of the firms that was offering that was offering that kind of facility. So I finished my articles in December 2008 and that’s when I started my journey in January 2009 with African Sun, I joined the group in the capacity as group accountant. You would understand that with the size of this company, there were pieces always moving at any given time. A year later I was promoted to the position of group finance manager. But because there were a lot of things happening then, my mind was just somewhere else, I had a different interest in the corporate finance aspect of the company then, and my boss at that particular time thought I could be very useful and I switched from the main bookkeeping accounting to more planning accounting, that is corporate finance, acquisitions, projects, expansion, capital raising, you name it. So I became the corporate finance manager a year later and this is the position I held in the group until I was promoted to the position of finance director in April 2015. It’s been quite an experience to have been part of the group in all critical aspects as far as accounting, finance and admin is concerned. I think my journey thus far, since I became the CFO of the company we have had exciting projects along the way. Like I said, the recent one being the acquisition of another entity through a share swap, although we are still finalising certain legal aspects, but I think we are there. In this role I also oversee reporting, planning, projects, IT, procurement, secretarial, admin and, most importantly, communicating with the tour operators and all commercial contracting. So I would say that really sums me up to where I am today.

Zimbabwean inflation rate over 100%

CIARAN RYAN: The company is listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange, correct?

BELIEVE DIRORIMWE: Yes, it is listed.

CIARAN RYAN: It’s always fascinating because the Zimbabwean Stock Exchange is kind of a hedge against inflation, and I don’t know what the inflation rate is now in Zimbabwe, but I think it’s edging back towards 100% per year, it’s very high. Nothing like what it was a few years ago but still very high, right?

BELIEVE DIRORIMWE: Yes, it’s over 100%, we’re actually doing inflation accounting, if you want to put it that way.

CIARAN RYAN: Right, which makes it a unique challenge that you have this inflation rate that you’re having to contend with in preparing your results.

BELIEVE DIRORIMWE: It’s hectic, I must say, but sometimes when you’re in a particular environment the only thing you can do is adapt and get used to certain things.

CIARAN RYAN: The stock prices in Zimbabwe do tend to rise, they reflect that internal inflation rate that you’ve got, so has the share price been doing quite well or is it reflecting this lockdown, the fact that you actually cannot sell rooms at the moment.

BELIEVE DIRORIMWE: The share price was doing very well in 2018, 2019 and then in 2020 it simply responded to what is happening in the industry, there hasn’t been much movement there. I think people are pretty much holding onto shares, they know what the company is capable of doing, so nobody is really selling at the moment. I think people are keeping their share certificates somewhere until a better day comes. So this has been a trend, not just for our counter but the general market hasn’t really been performing at the levels that we know it would under current circumstances. The trade is there, activity is there but it’s relatively low, it’s not the kind of time when you hear of the big deals happening, so many shares exchanging hands. So it’s moderate, like a day-to-day thing but at a very slow rate.

CIARAN RYAN: What drew you to accounting and in your journey as an accountant, did you find that there are certain things that only experience will teach you that you’re not going to get in the classroom?

BELIEVE DIRORIMWE: Ciaran, it’s quite funny actually how this whole thing started. I spent a great part of my academic life doing sciences but what would happened is my dad bought newspapers and I would enjoy reading the business section, especially the commentaries that would accompany financial results. I would also listen to business news and I had this feeling within me that at some point I was quite knowledgeable and I was practicing to be a business editor in the house. I loved how those guys would write the reports and if you listen to a business editor on the news, and how they know these things like inflation, exchange rates, dollar/rand, those sorts of things. So when you’re moving from the sciences, this is like ha, this must be crazy nice things. So when I went for advanced level that’s when I said this is the stuff that I want to do. I started doing commercial subjects for the first time in my entire academic life at that time and, I must say, I actually disappointed a few people in the process, including my late father. There are a few of my uncles and cousins who were and are still in the sciences field. I must say, I am the first accountant in the family, amongst agricultural scientists and engineers. So I think I did well on my part as far as my A levels were concerned and from there I carried on to the University of Zimbabwe to do accounting. Then I think coming to learning versus experience, I must say, nothing beats experience. The whole accounting, which I suppose most academic programmes would also do, equips you with the admin, how to record transactions, what is the way of doing certain, what are the laws and rules and things like that. But the experience brings about the person you are, as you grow in organisations, you will face different situations, cases good and bad that require critical judgement, which you are never taught in school. Experience is as good as a sixth sense, if you can put it that way, instinct, and it all then boils down to what kind of a person are you, what kind of a leader are you. You’re swimming on your own when you are actually experiencing things in organisations. I believe mostly that we are shaped by experience and very little through academics. In fact, on day one when you step into an organization to work, that’s when real stuff begins, that’s when you are really being tested in your own sphere as an accountant, engineer, whatever. But your interactions and your experience is really who you are, you can’t replace that or be taught or trained to be a certain person who you are not. As I said earlier on, it’s pretty much about judgement more than anything else as you begin the journey in any profession, in my view.

‘What I have experienced in the last 15 years is second to none in terms of experience.’

CIARAN RYAN: Yes, I think what is interesting about your story in particular is that you’re entirely a product of the Zimbabwean educational system and the Zimbabwean business environment. I think people outside of this part of the world maybe don’t really understand some of the challenges that you have to face, you talked about inflation accounting. Other people we’ve spoken to in Zimbabwe deal with supply chain challenges and inability to get parts for particular machines. There are some very, very unique things, so to be an accountant, you really have to be a little bit more than a number cruncher. It’s just a point I wanted to raise, the South African Institute of Business Accountants has the designation, CFO, certified financial officer, and it really is in recognition of these competencies and these disciplines that are acquired through experience rather than through academic learning, like how do you manage a team and how do you communicate your message, how do you solve some of these problems that you’ve been talking about earlier, the lockdown, the 100%-plus inflation. These are quite serious challenges that accountants elsewhere in the world probably have never encountered. I just wanted to get your take on that, these are such valuable lessons that will carry you anywhere in the world, I’m sure.

BELIEVE DIRORIMWE: Yes definitely, Ciaran. I would say anyone who has been managing a business in Zimbabwe for the last 15 years, I am using 15 years here because I think that’s the life I have spent now in industry and commerce at this particular point. But what I have experienced in the last 15 years is second to none in terms of experience. If you have run a business in the last 15 years and that business has survived up to where we are now, you have learnt a very critical skill that is managing under stress, managing under harsh conditions, managing under uncertainty. I always say that the only predictable thing about Zimbabwe right now or at any given time in the last 15 years, is the unpredictability of the economy and the country and the policies that the government throws at us. I’ve done hyperinflation accounting twice now, this is the second time, I think the first time was around 2008, 2009, thereabout and, again, we have circled back to that. The thing that I think is a differentiator in this space is the leadership that at any given time the organization has and I think also the stamina to be able to retain the right people who will give you that extra skill you need to survive such harsh terrain. The last 15 years hasn’t been quite predictable, as I said, and it really requires certain stamina and dynamism to survive it. So the strategy then narrows to how do you survive, do you have to do other transactions like acquiring certain entities in the same value chain as you, what relationship are you having with the next company that helps you. I can talk about a number of companies in Zimbabwe that have actually gone into vertical integration as well and in certain instances have significant influence in the companies that they cannot do without. So in certain instances this would come as a rescue package to say if we let this entity sink, the next person to sink is us. Over the last ten years or so, you would have watched in this space where we have had a number of entities actually being bought or certain foreign entities having significant influence, and we also had quite a number of entities now expanding their wings out of Zimbabwe, getting into Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia and South African markets, and all this would come in as to hedge what is happening at home. So you could be in an inflationary environment but when you’ve got a decent strategy that is earning foreign currency for you, you can easily hedge your income, you can easily hedge your revenue, you can then easily hedge your supply chain but most importantly, like I said, it’s really about what are you doing, particularly synced together with those entities that you cannot do without. So that has been the story of Zimbabwe in the last ten years or so, if you really wanted to survive. When you look at the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange, I think your top ten counters, if you’re going to look at them, either that entity generates foreign currency, if they don’t, then they actually have an investment in another company that does either local or in the region. So in a nutshell, I would say that has really managed the survival of these entities over the last 12 to 15 years or so.

CIARAN RYAN: Just going back to this point about the inflation accounting, what currency are you accounting in, is it the local Zimbabwean dollar or have you dollarised your company. In other words, US dollars or rands.

BELIEVE DIRORIMWE: We account in Zimbabwean dollars and that’s our presentation currency, I think this is now a technical term. So we present our accounts in Zimbabwean dollars but we also provide the same information in US dollars. So there is quite a lot that happens in the background in terms of determining which currency you’re going to use to present your results versus what actually is the functional currency within the company. So in the company we transact in US dollars, rand, pule, Zimbabwean dollar and we actually rake in quite a lot in terms of foreign currency. I remember earlier on I mentioned the domestic versus foreign in terms of your customers because your foreigners pay you a hedged amount upwards, the collection in terms of foreign revenue is actually more than 45% in foreign currency for the company. So this is one of the things that actually helps us to weather certain storms when they come our way.

‘Where there is a crisis, there are actually opportunities.’

CIARAN RYAN: We’re running out of time here, but I’ve got a few quick questions, if you don’t mind. Are you optimistic for the future and how are conditions generally ignoring the fact of the tourism lockdown, how are conditions generally in Zimbabwe at the moment?

BELIEVE DIRORIMWE: I am quite optimistic about the future, we have never dreamed of less or wishing that yesterday would come back. We look forward and we use today to better prepare us for tomorrow, I’m very optimistic. While change is the only constant thing, business has to go on, the question is how, how can we make it better, what are the ways to improve it. There will always be a demand for our services in this industry in the future, and this is for all the other players in the economy as well, agriculture and mining. With regard to the conditions, I think we have already covered pretty much on the hyperinflation but what we have learnt is that it still remains quite unpredictable but where there is a crisis, there are actually opportunities that come up. The government has revised its foreign investment rules and in the last two years whilst all this thing is happening, we have had the mining and agriculture sector doing very well, even last year during Covid. Tourism, if it were not for the last year, we were also booming, I think we were going northwards of the graph, it was quite interesting. I was reading a report recently, IMF still thinks that we will grow 3.9% in 2021, so that’s a very good endorsement for the country at the moment.

CIARAN RYAN: What do you do in your downtime? Do you have a family or are you into sports?

What do you do?

BELIEVE DIRORIMWE: Yes, I have a family, I am married with two kids, a boy and a girl. I am an outdoors person, I love travelling but because of Covid there hasn’t been much of that.

CIARAN RYAN: So you’ve been sampling the hotels at home, you’re going around the country, which is not bad, one can think of worse ways to spend time.

BELIEVE DIRORIMWE: Yes, and fishing is also on the menu, and recently I have developed an interest in photography, I am learning, and I have invested in very decent entry level equipment. So I am learning and I am loving it outdoors, if I am not outdoors, then I am definitely watching sport.

CIARAN RYAN: Where do you go fishing?

BELIEVE DIRORIMWE: There are quite a number of dams, I can go to Darwendale, Marondera, we can also go to Kariba but that’s something that we really plan, and the season is coming, from about August we will be fishing.

CIARAN RYAN: At Kariba Dam?

BELIEVE DIRORIMWE: Yes, at Kariba but for day trips Darwendale will do, Marondera will do but if it’s something like a weekend getaway or a long holiday, then you can do Kariba.

CIARAN RYAN: And in terms of photography, is it wildlife, outdoors, family portraits. What kind of photography do you like doing?

BELIEVE DIRORIMWE: So because I love it outdoors and the wildlife, I love outdoor photography, even small things like a butterfly on a flower, that sort of thing. Family I do here and there like for birthdays and special occasions, but I am more outside with the camera than inside.

CIARAN RYAN: And you find that a very satisfying thing, no doubt?

BELIEVE DIRORIMWE: It’s quite therapeutic for me, I must say.

CIARAN RYAN: And are you posting it online? You’re not the first CFO we’ve had, who has this passion for photography. We had somebody on quite recently who actually had one or two pictures published in National Geographic, which is quite something, there’s stiff competition for that. So do you publish photographs or is this just for your own personal consumption?

BELIEVE DIRORIMWE: I’m planning to start publishing, obviously with local magazines. But it’s something I started last year because of Covid you start to say that life is a bit depressed right now, what can I do. It’s something that I have always wanted to do and I said to myself, invest and start. So I am now at a point where I want to open my own page and I’ll take it from there and develop it after that.

CIARAN RYAN: That’s a great idea and please share that when you do have that and we can link through to it and get people to look at your stuff. Good idea to have a website where you can publish this. Final question, are there any books that you would recommend? This is the obligatory that we have on CFO Talks, the books that you’re reading that you want to share with us.

BELIEVE DIRORIMWE: A book that helped me a lot is The 360 Degree Leader: Developing Your Influence from Anywhere in the Organisation by John Maxwell. When you read it you begin to see certain things you used to do consciously and subconsciously, there will be things that you avoided doing, there will be things that you left undone unknowingly but most importantly, it gives you the perspective of being a leader and expand your influence from wherever you are in the organization. In simple terms, you become more deliberate about your approach, conduct and most importantly, being a consistent learner. So it really helped me a lot and how I got this book, my boss really liked me and one time he said, you’ve just got this unrelenting attitude to learn and I am impressed, so with where you are I want you to grow. He bought me that book as a birthday present.

CIARAN RYAN: Was that some time ago or recently?

BELIEVE DIRORIMWE: No, it was some time ago, it’s not recently but I recommend it for everybody because it helps whether you are at that CFO level or middle, especially for middle management to grow, it’s the perfect book.

CIARAN RYAN: That’s a book that’s been recommended before. Okay, is that it or is there any other book?

BELIEVE DIRORIMWE: I think that one is the great book. With regard to reading, I am more into the outdoors and wildlife than anything else. So that’s the only book I would recommend at the moment.

CIARAN RYAN: Fantastic, Believe, we’re going to leave it there. What a fantastic discussion

discussion and some really great insights there I think for the CFOs. Some of the challenges that you have to put up with in Zimbabwe, which are quite unique, and I think people from overseas, Europe and north America and places like that, who are listening to this will wonder how does one survive as a finance executive or a CFO in environments like this. Even South Africans, they wouldn’t really have inflation accounting the way that you’ve described it. As I said to you before we came on air, I think you’ve got one of the coolest jobs the world, I can’t imagine anything better than that. I grew up in Zimbabwe, I know these places that you’re talking about, Troutbeck Inn, I was there as a youngster and it’s lovely for you to be custodian of that to make sure that these great iconic landmark hotels remain there, continue to do business and attract tourists from all over the world. I’m sure you feel sometimes that you have one of the best jobs in the world, right?

BELIEVE DIRORIMWE: Yes, I do and when you talk about Troutbeck, everybody I talk to who knows Troutbeck, it’s famous for its four seasons in a day. It hasn’t changed, just the tranquility as well, it’s just the perfect place to take some time off.

CIARAN RYAN: Thanks so much, Believe, for coming on and please let’s stay in touch, I’d like to catch up with you again. I really do want to find out how things are going to go towards the end of the year, so I’d love to have you back on again.

BELIEVE DIRORIMWE: Thanks for having me here, Ciaran, and thanks for the opportunity.

Ciaran is a seasoned journalist and podcast host. He has a back-ground in finance and mining, having pre-viously headed up a gold mining operation in Ghana.In this podcast he interviews various CFOs, get-ting more detail on the role of the CFO and their daily challenges and solutions.


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