What is your educational and professional background?
With a science background from High school, I moved to Accra, Ghana, which is a neighbouring country to mine, to learn English for one year at University of Ghana (Legon). Then, I got admitted into a four year bachelor degree of science in Banking and Finance at central University College.
The program was intense and I was required to read courses from both banking operations and Corporate Finance. I also had the opportunity to participate in basic classes from key business functions including Marketing, Accounting and Management.
As part of the program, I was assigned a task to perform an active community service at a secondary teaching school whereby I had to improve the French Language level of the last year students. After my undergraduate studies, I got engaged in a four month's internship program at Sahel Sahara Bank as Teller assistant in Accra, Ghana.
Why did you chose to enroll into this particular program at Umeå university?
I have chosen the Master Program of Finance in Umeå University because I was so eager to benefit from it. Indeed, I believed that it would be an excellent and great opportunity to improve my professional skills and thus enhance my chances to find a better employment, as I will get a truly multicultural experience, highly valued nowadays among employers.
Also, living, studying and having fun with international scholars in Sweden would broaden my horizons and enable me to build strong social network with people from other continent.
What do you like most about you program?
What I like most about this program is the diversity among the lecturers and also their dedication to make us (the students) achieve the best out of the program. I had the opportunity to take part in challenging case study related to current event occurring in the business world. These exciting tasks not only improve my understanding of key financial analysis tools including excel, but also prepare me for my upcoming professional life.
I also appreciated the fact that I had the chance to apply for courses outside the scope of my major, such as Corporate Governance and Innovation Management. These additional courses help in the improvement of my leadership skills, as many employers now offer cross-functional opportunities within their company. Furthermore, I enjoy taking part in the guest lecture, which really show us what is awaiting us in the job market.
What is the most interesting thing you learnt in your program so far?
I learnt so many interesting and new things in this master program. But the most important of all is the ability to think critically. I developed to think outside the box, and in so doing I had to problematize a given solution or concepts.
What do you do when you are not studying?
During my free-time from the university, I usually go to swim or play basketball at IKSU sport, which is the largest training facility in Scandinavia and it is located on the University area.
I am also part of a program called buddy program, which I found very interesting. The buddies, which are Swedish students, volunteer themselves to facilitate the integration of international students into the Swedish culture. At least they organize two events per week whereby we meet with the other members to have dinner, go to cinema or play fun games. I always enjoy taking part to those events, if I am not busy studying.
What is you impression of Umeå and the surrounding area?
My first impression of Umeå was that it is a small student towns. And as such, it gives a lot of opportunity to university students to engage in student activities and get to know the northern part of Sweden, which has a lot of good things to show including the aurora borealis (northern lights). I was also impressed by the beauty of the nature during the summer time and the white snowy landscape during winter offering a lot of fun activities to do like ice fishing and so on.
What do you find is the biggest cultural difference, both socially and educationally, between your country and Sweden?
When I came to Sweden, I realize that the country is so much different from where I come from both socially and educationally. Most swedes are shy and hard to open up to make friends, which is just the opposite from what I know.
For example, I had numerous group work with Swedish students, and I noticed that most of them behave as if they have never seen you in their life after the group work, which was so weird to me at beginning. Because in Mali, it is unacceptable to ignore and refuse to greet someone with whom you have been working or studying with. The person who is ignored may think that it did something bad, that's why you are ignoring him.
In addition, Sweden's educational system, whereby you take your respective courses in sequence, that is one or two course at a time and then you have your final exam at the end of each course. This Swedish system is quite different from Mali's educational system, which is the same with most system, whereby you take all your courses for the semester together and have the final exams at the end of the semester for all courses.
In addition, the relationship student/Professor is also different between the two countries. For instance, during our orientation course, they make us know that we are expected to call the Professors with their first name, which is seen as something unpardonable in my home country.
What would you say or what advice would you give to a student thinking of applying to Umeå University?
The most important advice I will give to anyone thinking of applying to Umeå University is to do it as soon as possible, as it will help them gain an international mindset and share ideas with talented international scholars. I may also suggest to be prepared to take on challenging group and project work that will enhance their soft skills including presentation and time management skills, which are highly needed to start their professional career.
What are your career aspirations?
I don't have any specific company in mind that I want to apply to in the near future. However, I have preferences for companies showing a high level of social, environmental and governance performance. I first thought of Pharmaceutical companies where I can use my finance and accounting knowledge in addition to my professional skills to contribute to the goal of enhancing the lives of patients and thus contribute to making the world a better place.
Upon my graduation, I intent to get an opportunity to start a life changing career in a graduate program with such companies, and engage in rotational position combined with first-hand coaching and mentoring.
Favourite thing about Umeå University:
The multicultural environment and the Library facility.
Favourite Swedish word or custom:
Lycka till, which mean good luck. I heard these words so often.
Three words to summarize your time in Umeå:
Cold, fun and hard-work.