11 June 2024

A Growth Mindset – Susan van der Valk

Since 1935, MGI Bass Gordon has worked to grow our service offering – moving with change and finding innovation through fluidity. And ultimately, partners and staff together, it’s our people that make our clients’ business personal.

Concluding our series of compelling success stories, today we share Susan van der Valk’s take on success, what makes her tick, and how she employs her talents and skills to ever evolve our firm.

Susan heads up our family office department. She has a love for all things tech and since 2020 she’s been involved with implementing Xero’s cloud solutions to our clients. Susan’s expertise and passion are highly valued by her clients and the Xero community, and earlier this year she walked away with Xero’s Most Valued Professional Award at the South African Xero Awards.

“Building relationships with our staff and clients is what gives us our competitive edge. Within these relationships and connections, we build trust. We want to stay the top-of-mind-firm when our clients face any issue – with our robust approach to problem-solving, our affinity for solutions means they always feel supported, knowing that the best result will always be achieved.”

Flat white in hand, Susan answered the following targeted questions, revealing the inner workings of a woman who clearly grasps the holistic nature of business – and success:

What do you feel your greatest success at MGI Bass Gordon is?
Thanks to my team, there have been several successes both great and small in my time, however the most recent is our firm’s technology changes – particularly moving our working data to the Cloud.

How has this success directly impacted MGI Bass Gordon’s clients?
Numerous clients have migrated their accounting to the Cloud, which allows us to extract and review real-time transactions. We spend less time on site, a bonus for those clients who have reduced their office space following adoption of a hybrid working model. By making our assurance software Cloud-based, collaboration with clients is a breeze – queries are tracked and actioned with precision. Overall, they feel much more in sync with their finances.

How has this success directly impacted MGI Bass Gordon’s staff?
Firstly, it has allowed us to follow a hybrid work model. Staff can now work remotely with access to everything they need. Secondly, our shift to the Cloud has certainly created a bounty of efficiencies in our practice.

What is your next big goal at MGI Bass Gordon?
As many know, I have a strong passion for accounting technology, particularly Xero, our preferred software choice. I’m always looking at how better to support clients wanting to migrate to the platform. However, with Gen AI currently a huge focus in the tech space, I’d say that this is our next big goal. Questions I’m asking are: How can we effectively use Gen AI within our business? How do we ensure this is done ethically? What are the training processes that we need to follow and most importantly, what value will this add to our clients?

How will you measure the success of this goal, when reached?
Simply put, by the value to our clients and the insights that can further enhance their business. We believe that by looking for the right tools, we can boost their performance. Who doesn’t like pretty-looking data, right?

Pondering the volatile world we find ourselves in locally and internationally, we asked Susan to comment on where our firm is headed:
We believe that there are always opportunities to be enjoyed. Although current economies are challenging, our promise remains to provide clients with the best support. This attitude creates wider opportunities for us – success, ultimately, is a choice.

Drawing this insightful conversation to a close, Susan offers deep food for thought:

How do you keep your team motivated despite conflicts and obstacles?
By sharing my own experiences, I lead from behind, my focus fixed on my team’s full potential. Connecting regularly is key – and so is listening, really hearing them – ultimately, we solve problems together.

What is your personal definition of success?
Finding your passion – then doing what you enjoy doing every day.

In terms of the way you deal with people, what do you feel your top personality traits are – and, why so?
Being naturally empathetic, I’m a good listener and apply insights from my own journey to inspire others. Because I’m passionate about what I do, it allows me to find the edge and advantage in difficult times.

How do you celebrate your successes?
By sharing my success with those that have played a role in it.

What would you say are the most important attributes of successful leaders today?
Empathy, being available to listen, and knowing how to empower others to solve problems on their own.

Who inspires you about leadership?
My go-to is “Leaders Eat Last” by Simon Sinke; “Atomic Habits” by James Clear; and “Grit” by Angela Duckworth. I’m busy listening to “The Diary of a CEO” by Steven Bartlett.

Our final question, enquiring of Susan who her role models in this life are, categorically sums her up as a woman, a leader, and consummate industry professional: 
My parents have always been incredible role models. What they have done and achieved is immeasurable – the values demonstrated and instilled in me, my work ethic, and dogged sense of commitment. What I love most about what they have taught me, is in all things, to be fair.

To explore more about MGI Bass Gordon as a firm and the vast range of services we offer our clients, please visit our website