In this day and age, it is becoming a rarity for one to spend their entire career at one company. In this context, PwC Zambia Senior Country Partner Andrew Chibuye stands out for having been with the firm for over 18 years and as he will gladly tell you, the job still feels as exciting as ever. PwC, or PricewaterhouseCoopers, is part of an elite group of accounting firms known as the Big Four. The firm is trusted by companies and governments to solve today’s challenges and to anticipate solutions for tomorrow’s problems. In Zambia, the firm is led by Andrew, who assumed the position of Country Senior Partner in July of 2020.
I sat down with Andrew at the swanky Hilton Garden Inn located in the heart of Lusaka’s CBD. He arrived early and even had to wait on us as we debated where exactly in the Garden Grille, the hotel’s restaurant, to have the conversation. He used this extra time to respond to emails on his iPad and return a few calls. This is unsurprising as Andrew is a smart worker and not just a hard worker, and therefore, no time or energy is wasted.
Amidst the calm of the Garden Grille, I forget for a while that we’re in one of the country’s major centres of commercial activity. We decide on our preferred spot and the conversation begins in earnest.
Andrew tells me he is the second of four children, who have equally done well for themselves. His older brother is an engineer while one of his two younger sisters is a lawyer and the other is a medical doctor. Even though the name Andrew Chibuye is now synonymous with finance, accounting was not always his first choice. Growing up, he wanted to study nuclear physics, but after a tough conversation with his father, he concluded that this dream was, perhaps, not practical at the time. He later considered mechanical engineering before settling on accounting.
“I have come to believe that the optimal professional is one who is highly competent and fun to work with.”
Remarkably, Andrew has spent his entire career with PwC. When I asked why he has stayed for so long with the firm, he responds, “The environment is very dynamic. It is rare that I am doing the same job every day. And even when the job is the same, we are doing it for a different client and that makes it just as exciting. We get to do work for the country, companies and people. We have to learn constantly to solve the relevant issues of today and also those we can’t see tomorrow.”
As Country Senior Partner, Andrew is responsible for the overall leadership of PwC Zambia and the 170 people working for the firm. At only 39 years old, he has earned the role at a relatively young age. Making partner was always a goal for Andrew and he has worked hard to develop the traits required to attain the role and succeed in it. He comments, “You have to be very committed and you have to be resilient. You can’t stop moving forward and learning. You always have to keep evolving and also learn how to work with people. That is the key for anyone with dreams of getting to the top of any field.”
“I sometimes cycle 70 kilometres just to clear my head. When you are far in the bush there is nothing more to think about…”
Succeeding in the role also calls for strong leadership qualities, which Andrew has refined over the years. He describes his leadership style as collaborative, which often involves working with and through people. “I was told by an old boss of mine that when you become a leader, your job is to get things done and not necessarily to do. Ultimately, the more you can get done through your team, the more effective you’ll be. When you are in a role like this one, everything is equally important and you have to be good with managing your time. I have come to believe that the optimal professional is one who is highly competent and fun to work with.” This optimal professional is who Andrew aims to be every day.
But work is not the only thing that takes up Andrew’s time. He prioritises his fitness and has a routine he sticks to consistently. He has maintained the discipline of working out at lunchtime for the last ten years. He is also an avid cyclist and believes fitness is foundational to his personal and career success. “I feel like when I am not at my best physically then I am not firing on all cylinders. The demands of my job also mean that when I am physically well and my mind is clear, then I am able to react well to all the crises I face daily.” On cycling, he adds, “I sometimes cycle 70 kilometres just to clear my head. When you are far in the bush there is nothing more to think about, perhaps except for maybe your peddling style, and that is when I think through many things.”
The allure of cycling is also the opportunity to help underprivileged cyclists make it in the sport. Andrew is currently serving as the president of the Cycling Association of Zambia. When not on his bike, he enjoys writing, reading self-help books and creating personal growth content for his various social media platforms. An inspiration to many, Andrew has over 28,000 followers on Facebook, over 19,000 followers on LinkedIn and over 1,900 on YouTube where he shares career advice and gives insights into his work life and fitness journey.
When asked about what the title of his autobiography would be, he responded without hesitation, “The pursuit of relevance.” Relevance is a word that has come up multiple times throughout my chat with Andrew. To him relevance is more than a word, it is his life philosophy. Nothing can sum up who Andrew Chibuye is better than his own insightful words, “Relevance is what drives me. For me, it is about legacy. The ultimate question for me is, ‘In 400 years, how will the people living then know that I lived today?’ Then you work backwards and connect to what I am doing today. I have to be relevant to the people I work with, relevant to my family, my community and also to my clients There is also the realisation that what was relevant yesterday will not be relevant tomorrow. It brings up the challenge to be adaptive and to be dynamic. You may be on top today, but it is not a guarantee that you will be just as successful tomorrow.”
We then turn off the microphone and recorder and enjoy a mouth-watering lunch. The Garden Grille is buzzing but still has a relaxed vibe at the same time. Leisure guests abound but there are even more business guests as the hotel is playing host to four conferences that day. Andrew orders a fillet steak, tender and flavoured to perfection, and a variety of greens, no carbohydrates in sight, to stay fresh for the rest of the day. I order the same meal but with the addition of roasted potatoes. Though thoroughly satisfied I also order dessert, a decadent brownie with chocolate ice cream – a recommendation from Garden Grille’s own Executive Chef Mlulelki. Ever the efficient man, Andrew makes his way after 2 pm, he has another appointment he must get to, no doubt another step in the pursuit of relevance and the journey to cementing his legacy.