Meet TSCPA Deloitte Scholarship Recipient Musa Sanneh

September 23, 2021
Musa Sanneh

How did you hear about the TSCPA scholarship program, and why did you decide to apply?

I heard about TSCPA through my accounting instructor. During the first day of class in the spring semester Dr. Hsieh, the accounting professor, recommended that those of us who intend to pursue a career in accounting consider familiarizing ourselves with the relevant professional organizations both within the state and nationally. After the class, I began to research online about TSCPA, NASBA and AICPA, among other professional organizations. It was during that research that I stumbled on the information that TSCPA offers scholarships to top accounting students in Tennessee State University and other colleges in Tennessee. I hesitated to apply but eventually convinced myself that to apply and be rejected is better than not to apply at all, particularly given the relevance of TSCPA to my field of study.

Why did you choose a career in accounting?

Generally, I subscribe to the truism that accounting is the language in which businesses conduct their day-to-day activities. I consider this to be particularly true for countries that rely on the free market system. In the free market system, businesses are the engine that generates growth. But for the free market system to function properly, effectively and efficiently, it is imperative that people have some degree of confidence in the credibility of the information that the system produces. In other words, the language of business must not only be loud and clear but must also be reliable. Coming from a part of the world where the capacity to produce information that could reasonably be relied upon not just by the citizens but also by all those who choose to do business in the country is both antiquated and in short supply, choosing accounting as a career is almost like a calling. Now, does this mean that potential wealth and other luxuries of life that are almost synonymous with the accounting profession are not part of the calculus or will be rejected? Absolutely not!

Why did you decide to move to the United States, and how has it affected your career path?

Like other immigrants before me, I came to the United States with high hopes. The hope was not to seek relief but opportunity - opportunity to acquire quality education and training that I could someday take with me back home and use it to make a difference in the lives of my people as well as my own. Looking back to the time I first landed at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, it is almost unbelievable that more than a decade has since passed. Coming to the United States was never meant to be a 10-year proposition. But as the former President of the United States Lyndon B. Johnson once said: “Reality rarely matches dream, but only dreams give nobility to purpose.” The journey, I must confess, has not been smooth sailing. Too many bumps and detours on the way – some of them almost insurmountable. But in a way it’s understandable. Coming to the United States as an international student post-9/11, it is not unreasonable to be confronted with certain hardships. The good news is I am determined to get back on track. The hope and resilience to acquire quality education and training lives on. Better late than never!

What are your goals after you graduate with your accounting degree?

The impact of a losing more than a decade from your life in terms of missed opportunities cannot be overcome very easily. Notwithstanding, after graduating with an accounting degree in May 2022, my goal is to proceed to graduate school to study for my master’s in business administration in accounting or register for CPA exams. It is difficult to predict the future, but I intend to work as hard as I know how to make the transition possible. I trust that the good Lord will make it easier.

What is one piece of advice you would give students considering accounting as a major/career option?

My advice for students considering accounting as a major and career option is to stay focused. In this rapidly changing and highly competitive environment, there is hardly any room for average. In antiquity, a solid mastery of double entry alone can earn you a decent accounting job. Today? Almost impossible – such opportunities are out through the window a long time ago.

What is something most people might not know about you?

I am a very relatable, funny and a sport fanatic - especially soccer. Beyond that, I must hasten to add that I am a very imperfect person. But as other imperfect persons, I try every day to learn and grow from my imperfections.

What three words would your friends and family use to describe you?

Charismatic, caring, honest.

What do you like to do in your free time to unwind/relax?

Watch international news on television or read news from my Google feed.

What does receiving a TSCPA scholarship mean to you?

As mentioned in one of my emails to Aleshia Garrett, Director of Marketing and Communications at TSCPA, the joy of being awarded a TSCPA scholarship is comparable only to my birthday. Beyond the symbolism of being one of the awardees of this prestigious scholarship, the award itself could not have come at a better time. The nature of my work is both physically and mentally exhausting. For this reason, I always resort to taking a vacation, sometimes unpaid vacations, during exams so that I can take my exams while I am fresh and rested. Given that I have exhausted all my vacation time for the year, you can imagine the void this scholarship will fill. Moreover, my financial aid covers only tuition. Other resources like books and cost of travel back and forth to school are excluded. Certainly, the importance of what the scholarship meant to me cannot be overemphasized.

As someone who has worked in the accounting profession in different parts of the world, what is your view of the profession from a global perspective?

My view is that, globally, the gap between the developed and the developing countries is getting wider notwithstanding the adoption of international financial reporting standards and, in some cases, domestication of international standards on auditing by some developing countries. To narrow the gap will require seismic change on the part of the developing countries. The reasons for this are many, but the most basic reason has to do with the governance environment. Despite some noticeable differences between U.S. GAAP and IFRS, it is not unreasonable to suggest that the events that led to the Sarbanes-Oxley legislation in 2002 or Dodd-Frank in 2008 in the United States would undoubtedly attract similar legislation in most if not all parts of Europe. Unfortunately, however, in many parts of the developing countries, events of this nature are not the issues that get serious attention they deserve at the governmental level, much less at the professional level. That is to say, much in the same way that governments in the developing countries are less innovative and unresponsive to events of phenomenal importance, so too is the accounting profession in most parts. Technology is another area where there is a big difference. For example, in developing countries, it is not unusual to find that amongst the entire audit team, only very few, if any, have advanced knowledge in Excel or other basic accounting software. Consequently, it is not an exaggeration to say that whilst the profession in the west has evolved or is still evolving, in the south the profession is basically lagging.