Solomon Gizaw Kebede is the renowned co-founder, chairman, and CEO of the Ethiopian practice HST, one of the country’s prominent and high-growth professional service firms. His noteworthy career journey and the challenges he overcame throughout were highlighted in a recent blog by ACCA, the global professional accounting body that offers the Chartered Certified Accountant qualification.
Having begun his higher education studying accounting and finance at a university in the 80s in Addis Ababa, Solomon quickly went on to gain his ACCA qualification and an FCCA status (highest achievement awarded to ACCA members after 5 years of continuous membership and Continuous Professional Development (CPD) compliance).
He worked for the Desert Locust Control Organization for Eastern Africa as a senior account—while doing his own side business— until he caught his big break in the form of chairmanship to the Ethiopian Professional Association of Accountants and Auditors (EPAAA). It was there he met Haile Leul Tamiru and Tekeste Gebru Abera, the two friends who would go on to become co-founders to his dream audit firm.
HST was established in 2003 by a merger of three independent professional service firms and bears the first letters of the co-founder’s names. According to ACCA, this was the first accounting and audit partnership in the country, whose status as a category-one audit firm helped it to attract talent and clients – and deliver 30% growth in its early years.
In 2012, HST became a member of Deloitte, one of the Big Four accounting firms worldwide, in hopes of expanding its consulting business. The move, in contrast to expectation, resulted in less profit growth and culminated in a costly departure following a change in Deloitte policy at the African regional level in 2017. ‘Staff who had joined because of the Big Four name left as soon as we exited Deloitte,” Solomon told ACCA.
Once independent from Deloitte, HST wasted no time in getting ahead of the game. In five years since this incident, the firm’s turnover and operating profit has more than tripled. Solomon continues to drive its growth by recruiting, developing, and retaining good talent, despite the difficulty of the latter. Getting ACCA qualification, for instance, is a requirement for employees joining HST’s audit strategic business unit- for which cost of study is covered and exam leave provided.
Among other notable positions, Solomon was a brand ambassador for ACCA in East Africa and the first ACCA International Assembly member to represent Ethiopia. More recently, he facilitated the 2014 handover of licensing and regulating the accountancy profession in Ethiopia from the Office of the Auditor General to the Accounting and Auditing Board of Ethiopia (AABE). Solomon and another HST director are now reportedly working with AABE to design a roadmap for developing accountancy and finance professional qualifications in the country.
Without a doubt, Solomon has played and continues to play, a significant role in developing Ethiopia’s finance industry for both current and future generations.
CFO Forum Ethiopia is to be held at Sheraton Addis Hotel on October 13
HST Chairman and CEO Solomon Gizaw will speak at this year’s CFO Forum. HST hopes that the forum will become a result-oriented learning and networking platform for the country’s next generation of CFOs. The forum also intends to become a commanding voice by addressing Ethiopia’s critical financial challenges.
Source: HST, ACCA
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