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A (class) balancing act

- By Reshma Lakha-Singh

Linda Jarvis has perfected the recipe on “how to live a wholesome life.” Recently appointed as the Chief Financial Officer at Wits, her office in Senate House is far contrary to that of a hardened accountant occupied with stark financial statements, graphs and numbers. Instead, it is well-stocked with pictures and mementos of her family.

With over 30 years of experience, Jarvis brings with her a résumé packed with experience as a senior executive in all aspects of financial management. She has worked in finance and business services; as well as the government, mining and communications sectors.

Jarvis’ arrival signalled a new reporting structure at Wits and her office now reports directly to the Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Adam Habib.  “My key focus at Wits is the connectivity between donors, students who require financial aid, fees and funding sources,” says Jarvis.

Jarvis’ biggest aim at Wits is to reach financial sustainability. “It’s about the ability to secure stable and sufficient long-term financial resources and to allocate them in a timely and appropriate manner. Wits is like any other business, so it is about running, growing and transforming the business to where you envision it to be.”

“When I was approached by a previous employer to apply for the position at Wits, it was a homecoming to my alma mater. I studied for a B Com here, lived in Jubilee Hall, met my husband and launched my career at Anglo American,” she says.

Jarvis spent seven years at Anglo American climbing the corporate ladder to reach the position of Divisional Accountant, having first joined the mining conglomerate as a graduate of their scholarship fund. She rejoined the mining sector at Anglovaal a few years later after having made great inroads into the accounting profession.

After five years at Anglovaal, Jarvis decided to pack away her hard hat and gumboots for the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC). During her tenure at the SABC, she helped change the business into that of profit-making. Her career thereafter spiralled into success after success.  Her final bout in the corporate world was during her time at KPMG, where she was seconded to City Power.

“Working in government was difficult and it made me question what I wanted to do with my life. Although together with a team, we achieved a clean audit for City Power, I was left feeling very frazzled.” She thereafter took a well-deserved self-imposed mini-sabbatical and spent the time assisting her husband in his consulting business. “This rejuvenated me... and then Wits came along,” she concludes.