Senior Financial Analyst at First Service Residential (Canada)
ET: Tell us a bit about your story!
Umamah: I come from a very education intensive family. My sisters and I have been brought up knowing we have to put education before anything else and we need to be able to support ourselves and be completely independent. For as long as I remember, my father used to ensure that our main and top priority was always education. As a father of 3 girls, he wanted to ensure we will always be enough for ourselves and each other as well. My strength lay in numbers and I pursued my ACCA right after finishing my A levels from The Lyceum. After completing my ACCA and receiving my BSc as well, I went forth to pursue my MBA from IBA.
ET: How was your time at IBA?
Umamah: While I was studying at IBA, I continued my school teaching during the day which I had started towards the end of my ACCA. I grew from teaching 7th and 8th Grade English Language to teaching accounting at the A levels. I was teaching at Lyceum during my MBA. Once my MBA completed, I got married and continued to teach at the same school. It was after a couple of years, when I had my first daughter I took a break from teaching for 8 months and during that period kept applying to various other teaching positions. I had been working for 6 years non stop by then and was itching to get back. I applied to teach at IBA, my alma mater, and it was a long process from beginning to end, but finally got the opportunity to join their faculty once my little one was 8 months old. I used to go to teach part time, four times a week for 3 hours. What made this possible was the strong family support I had back home. My sister, who is still my older ones first love, was an essential part of this time. A year after, I was expecting my 2nd and had to take time off again. Same situation, I went back to work when my younger one was 8 months and my older one had just started preschool. At this time, my parents were a pillar of support, and without them I know none of this would have been possible.
ET: How did Canada come about?
Umamah: It was in 2018 when we moved to Canada that we, as a family, had to rearrange our lives. As an accountant, I managed to get a basic contractual role soon after getting to Canada and settling in. The girls were enrolled in school and my husband was the biggest support as he would pick them up from school. My first boss in Canada was always encouraging and he insisted that I go for my CPA. At that point in my life, I just felt it was an additional investment because you count the pennies when you immigrate and start from scratch. He pushed me and assured me I would get all that money back in no time. I appled for my CPA membership through the ACCA mutual recognition agreement and it was a waiting game for 8 months before I heard back. DUring this time, my contract was also ending, but 2 days before it ended, I got a job which literally came out of nowhere. It felt like things were progressing. I got my CPA 3 months later and received 2 promotions within 6 months. I then moved to a new role after a year where I was offered a Senior FA role, and there’s been no looking back since.
ET: Your advice to younger girls?
Umamah: If you give up, everyone else will to. As women we are constantly doubting ourselves, and mom guilt is definitely real. In the end of it, we have to also take care of our mental and emotional needs. If you keep going for it, you will always succeed. Never be afraid to ask for help, you will be surprised how many people will come forward. Don’t also underestimate your abilities, like they say – Always shoot for the stars, you never know where you will end up.
ET: A message for ElleTech?
Umamah: I also want to thank Elletech for this initiative and for bringing real life stories on the front line. Its important to know, all these women are just like you and me. There is no cut out for this role. So thank you team Elletech and keep this going! You’re the motivation for so many others.