My life after Uni shares life hacks from some of Ghana’s brightest business professionals about succeeding in your career after university.
In this edition, we energise you with the interesting story of a young and ambitious pensions operations analyst, Desmond Bredu, a graduate of University of Ghana, Legon. He is an intelligent, confident and articulate gentleman who is very passionate about Investment and Finance related activities.
“It is true that at a point in time people may push unto you what they feel you are good at and sometimes there is some truth in it . The most important thing is that you need to take a step back and realize whether that is where you want to get to. And the truth is if you take that step back you will always find that thing that’s pleasing for you to do.Desmond Bredu, Analyst; Pensions, Stanbic Investment Management Services
- Current role: Analyst; Pensions, Stanbic investment Management Services
- University Attended: University of Ghana, Legon
- Program studied: Businesses Administration; Accounting Major
- Location: Accra, Ghana
- One word to describe your experience of Life after Uni: Evolving
How will you briefly describe your university life and its impact on your life currently?
Every single day you will learn something new about life after university. Nothing really prepares you for life after uni. It’s a challenge that is thrown to you and at the same time you’ll have to be ready to grasp opportunity.
You need to learn everyday, from the university you’ll be given assignments, presentations and other things. The same thing applies to your work space; learn, unlearn and relearn everyday.
The university is supposed to prepare you for life after uni. But you can bear with me that the university cycle is now theoretical. There’s always this call that we need to fuse academia with the industries but that’s one thing that we still lack. Uni can give you everything, they can teach you but there is still a disconnect between what you are taught in school and how practical day to day work actually is.
What influenced your choice of program studied in the university and is the choice still relevant in your career today?
Growing up my dad has always been calling me an accountant and in Ghana if you are really good in math they’ll tell you to be a bank manager. So for me growing up it has always been my dream to be a chartered accountant, that’s where the interest came from. From junior high school I was really solid in mathematics so I pursued Business in senior high school. It’s more like a transition from SHS to university; I did Business Administration and Accounting was to fulfill my childhood dream of being a chartered accountant which helped me to do my ACCA.
In terms of it helping my career; it’s 100%. Like I said earlier, there is the theoretical bit that is taught in school and the practical bit is what is done at the work space; it’s more beneficial if you have the theory to back your practice. When I started working, I had to apply what I had learnt. Accounting permeates into every single industry and that was helpful for me and it’s still relevant and helpful for me today.
I think maybe I have been blessed to have found an alignment with my interest, background and my knowledge. I’ve always known that I wanted to be an accountant so it has been a straight journey for me. There hasn’t been any instance where I have wanted to switch careers, being an accountant is what I have always been driven by.
How was your National Service days, what skills did you learn on the job?
Just like everybody I was conflicted between either continuing right after school or getting a field experience but I choose the latter after seeking guidance from people. It’s indeed a huge dilemma, imagine after doing accounting I was posted somewhere different it’s going to change your whole career path.
My national service days were fun; I was posted to Stanbic Bank. One thing that from the get go was important to me was an advice I got from my boss which was that attitude is everything and that’s what I built my career on.
You need to have a positive attitude, you ought to understand the reason why you are doing something that is when you can execute and improve. You need to have a good attitude because without that, even with your first class degree, people wouldn’t want to work with you. You also need to be ready to take on any opportunity. Within six months of national service I had assumed four different roles; from middle office to internal control and I was ready for each of the roles that were available.
It’s a bit difficult if the organisation itself does not have the right attitude. It was easy for me to have the right attitude because where I was everybody was putting on the right attitude at the workplace so when you add yours it becomes easy and visible. We all need to have a positive attitude towards colleagues in our work.
How did you transition into the work world after school?
Nothing prepares you for life after university but you should be prepared to take advantage of the opportunities that come your way. For me when I went in I knew that I wanted to be retained so I needed to show that I belonged there. Within that one year, I took on different roles. For each of them I tried to do my very best; from national service to contract work it was good because I didn’t have to do anything different but to keep the standard that I had during national service throughout my contract until permanent employment. Again, because of the attitude that I had it was easy because everybody was already putting in the right attitude at the workplace and once you add yours up it becomes easy and visible. I think everyone needs to have that positive attitude to their bosses, colleagues and their work.
What are the skills and tools you think matters the most in this current work life?
Again, I want to hammer on attitude and character because it’s so important. Now the world is going digital and everything is data driven so I believe that some bits of IT skills, proficiency in Microsoft office suite; these are basic things you need. Everything is going digital as such we need to be accustomed with the times.
Why does it matter for we the youths to be literate financially?
Usually, I like to tackle this question from the other side; what happens if you are not financially literate? Research shows that it can lead to depression. To make it more practical, we have people who are able to get money, before they realise they don’t know where the money has gone and they become bankrupt again. For me, I think this happens because you are not financially literate so you don’t know how to manage your money, therefore you lack the essential skills for doing so.
For our own mental health it is important for us to be financially literate. If you’re able to manage your finances well then you can impact on the next generation to also better manage their finances. If at a much younger age you learn about investment and you take advantage of the benefits of compound interests it will be beneficial to you for a very long time because time value of money plays a critical role. So if you are young you can start then you can even make more money as you grow. Yes! It is important to be financially literate, if not for anything for your own mental health.
You can get financial literacy from formal and informal sources like educational institutions but sometimes our educational institutions don’t teach us this. So mostly we acquire the knowledge informally from my peers, parents, social media and other sources. The most important thing for me is that you need to be deliberate about it, go out and look for information, ask the right questions and hopefully you will get the right answers.
Subscribe to Desmond’s YouTube page Desmond Bredu – https://m.youtube.com/c/DesmondBredu for all the answers on Personal Finance, Investments and Financial Literacy.
What advice do you have for students/fresh graduates about life after university?
People should take advantage of internship programs. You don’t have to wait till level 300 before you start to do internships, you need to start from level hundred. Internships give an idea of what the job really is.
It’s important that you take advantage of the opportunities you have in school; not just your courses but extra curricular activities too. For me when I was in school, I was a student leader as well. If the opportunity is there for you to be a student leader I believe you should take that up because it also builds you up.
For graduates, I think after having a positive attitude you need to also try to improve yourself. Now almost everybody has an undergraduate degree, what adds value to yours? Do you want to do a professional course, do you want to do a Masters degree? Find ways of improving yourself and finally be visible in your organisation because now visibility really rewards. Make sure your supervisors and colleagues see that you are putting in the work; it’s really important.
Who would you like to hear their story about life after university?
Philip Twum – Digital Transformation & Innovation at KPMG / Oxford FinTech Alum