Surviving the War on Talent: Mafipe Chunga.

The second last word of my previous article was formidable, and that is the perfect description of Mafipe.

Welcome to the second article on the war on talent series (click here to read the first one). Where we glimpse into the life and career of someone who is not only surviving the war on talent but is quite frankly flourishing.

Mafipe Chunga is a Senior Manager at KPMG which is one of the Big 4 accounting firms in the world. He holds degrees in Law, Accounting and is a Chartered Accountant. He also recently gave a TED talk!

He graciously and enthusiastically agreed to sit with me, to reveal his ‘talent winning’ blueprint.

Mafipe Chunga Interview

Career and Education

Current Position:

Senior Manger at KPMG, Deal Advisory Services.

Previous Positions Held:

  1. Relationship Manager at CitiBank.
  2. Positions ranging from Consultant  to Senior Manger at KPMG over a period of 6 years.
  3. Corporate Banking Officer at the Royal Bank of Scotland Group.

Educational Qualifications: 

Holds degrees in Law, Accounting and is a Chartered Accountant. It should be noted that he stated he did not ascribe to the practice of defining himself through his qualifications.

I have nothing against it or the people who do it, but we have gotten into the trap of being very technical. Instead of concentrating on output, it’s more important that a person holds certain qualifications even if they are not productive. It’s also a very easy way to miss genius.

Biggest career accomplishment thus far: When I joined KPMG I asked to be placed in the consulting part of the firm which was a very big gamble, because that meant I had to go look for business. I made this decision because I was behind in my career trajectory. When I joined the department it was essentially non-performing. I recruited four college dropouts because they were hungry and we worked day and night to make it work.

After six months of going no-where slowly, he received a memo from management asking him to fire his recruits, which he ‘conveniently’ chose not to see and a week later they got their first account. After that, it was up and on-wards for them.


What 3 words would you use to describe yourself?

Unorthodox, Forthright and Long-term.

What’s your favorite quotation?

He opted to tell a story at this juncture.

When I was in college, my lecturer asked me a question and when I answered it, the entire class burst out into laughter. He asked me again and I gave him the same answer, and my classmates laughed again. He then asked me to show him my working and it turned out the answer in the back of the text book was wrong and I was correct. Basically, don’t blindly follow the masses, think things through on your own.  

Would you say the following traits describe you?

Yes Somewhat No
1 Self-Confident


2 Self-Starter


3 Likable


4 Cooperative


5 Ability for abstract and logical thinking


6 High stress tolerance


7 Hard working
8 Intelligent

He stated that he was not as hardworking as he used to be. In my first job I was always the first in the office and the last to leaveAt this point in time it’s not just about me, the individual, it’s about the team and how productive we are. 

In regards to intelligence, he inquired what exactly it means? If I fail a test the first time and only pass it on the second attempt what does that mean? He told the story of how he got into college and didn’t adequately prepare for his exams [for the love of the chill], and failed. He went to his father lamenting about the difficulties he was facing and his father told him it was his fault, and that pushed him. It all comes down to how much you put in, he stated.


What do you do in your spare time?

I don’t really have spare time, but mostly family commitments and applying what I do at work to my personal life and growth.  

How do you stay at the top of your craft?

I do a lot of research in regards to what’s going on in the local and global markets. It’s also about just being curious he said.


Are leaders born or made?


As a leader in your field, do you think there are certain traits or situations that you were born into that placed you at an advantage?

  1. My parents were able to pay for my education, not everyone has that opportunity.
  2. My mothers side of the family was very entrepreneurial, so I was constantly exposed to that growing up, at 15 I was a fuel attendant! 
  3. I was exposed to a lot of successful people growing up, so that influenced my perspective on life.

What role have peers had in getting you to your current position?

Mafipe stated that he looks for the most output oriented people in his environment and observes what they’re doing to establish if they’re successes can be applied to his life. Conversely, each environment has negative people, and he said he avoided those people. They’re negativity was not his.


They say hindsight is 20/20, is there anything you wish you could have done differently in your journey?

As anticipated, he said no. Everything I went through made me who I am today. Every tangent I went off of, every failure I encountered… has shaped who I have become.

For all of the people, who aspire to reach the heights you have, what would your advice to them be?

Just be the best! 

He told the story of how he had attended a school’s career day and children were talking about working for telecommunication companies as opposed to owning them. This spoke about a societal wide complacency. If you want something you have to be willing to put in the effort and work, he concluded.


What does the future hold for you?

I want to retire at 45. His reasons where two-fold;

  1. Organisations should constantly get new-blood in them, this challenges the status-quo and keeps them growing.
  2. To be a better asset to the country and take it to the heights it once possessed.


I would like to express my utmost gratitude to Mafipe Chunga for taking time to do this interview. You’re an inspiration.

For more from him, follow him on twitter @Mafipe. 

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