What is the hardest thing you’ve ever done?
Benjamin Makosky, BS ’20, received this question a couple years ago during an interview—and he didn’t have an answer. In that moment, he decided he would seize the next opportunity to challenge himself and step far outside of his comfort zone.
Enter the UB School of Management’s experiential learning program in Ghana. During winter break, Makosy and 39 UB students and faculty members traveled to the West African nation and immersed themselves in its culture by engaging in medical and service projects, meeting with local business leaders and exploring historic sites.
For Makosy and the five other accounting students on the trip, the experience was also an opportunity to see firsthand the work culture of a Big Four accounting firm in another country.
“Global experiences are important for anyone, but they can be especially beneficial for accounting students,” Makosy says. “Technology is making the world smaller every day, and accounting is becoming increasingly global because of it. Knowledge of cultural differences when working in teams or communicating with people from all over the world can be so helpful.”
The group visited PwC’s office in Accra, the capital city, and learned about the services the firm provides in audit and assurance, advisory and tax. Lizzy Roth, BS ’20, was struck by the similarities and differences she noticed between accounting—and culture more broadly—in the U.S. and Ghana.
“Ghanaians have a more relaxed culture than we do, but that was not present at PwC Ghana, which was very punctual and followed strict regulations similar to how U.S. firms do,” Roth says. “I learned that despite the seemingly large difference between our countries and culture, we have similar goals and collaboration styles.”
Beyond PwC, the students recalled many impactful experiences and fond memories—from celebrating New Year’s at a local church, to teaching children at two schools, to learning about one of the country’s top exports at the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana.
“I was particularly proud of how our students rose to the challenge of teaching at two schools on such topics as problem-solving, the basics of coding and women’s menstrual health,” says Rose M. Hu, clinical assistant professor of accounting and law, who co-lead the trip. “Our students are truly making a difference in the world and, in the process, growing personally in confidence and altruism.”
For Tenzin Deckyi, BS ’20, the entire experience reinforced her goals of earning her CPA license and working in audit.
“I saw the importance of being passionate in what you do and always trying to make a difference even if it is small,” Deckyi says. “Studying abroad has changed my life forever and expanded my global awareness.”
As for Makosy? This spring, he and fellow accounting students Kirsten Byman, Mary Kate Smith and Milad Ghanatios won Best Global Experience Poster at the virtual Undergraduate Management Poster Competition. And, in future interviews, he can now confidently describe a challenge he faced—and hopes to make a career of encouraging others to push themselves too.
“My experience in Ghana really reinforced the benefits of stepping outside of your comfort zone,” he says. “Long term, I want to pursue a career in learning and development, and be in a role where I can help others find out what they’re truly capable of and incite growth in their lives.”