Abena Andam receiving her award.

August 14, 2013

Business student wins scholarship, finds new career path after co-op term

As aspiring accountant and committed volunteer, Abena Andam has always been passionate about working in her community.

Working with organizations such as Habitat for Humanity and the DeGroote School of Business’ charity fashion show, she knows what kind of impact volunteerism can have on people.

But it wasn’t until she spent a co-op term with the City of Hamilton that the MBA student realized a career in government could also help her make a significant impact.

Andam’s interest in working in government got a boost recently when she received a $5,000 Frank L. Greathouse Scholarship form the Government Finance Officers Association.

The award recognizes students interested in pursuing an accounting career in government.

Before discovering her new career path, Andam saw herself helping her community by building her own company and creating a foundation that would help women and children in developing countries.

Through her co-op term working with the City of Hamilton, Andam discovered a new career path as a policy advisor. She worked as a financial coordinator developing a new model for the city’s water and wastewater rate budget.

She worked to ensure that Hamilton could better forecast profits and rate increases needed to meet financial assets and operational budgets. Andam also worked with managers within the water and wastewater division to update their user fees in line with the Municipal Act’s full cost recovery requirement.

“I always wanted to help my community but saw myself as doing this through entrepreneurship,” says Andam. “Through my co-op internship at the City of Hamilton, however, I realized that I could also contribute positively to my community as an accountant and policy advisor within the government. I was particularly inspired by the work of my supervisor, who was a senior policy advisor with the City.”

While attending the GFOA’s annual conference, which was held in June in San Francisco, Andam met other scholarship winners, some of whom were already working full-time in government and studying part-time and some who were full-time students like herself.

“It was really inspiring to join over 14,000 members of the GFOA conference. It was definitely an eye-opening experience meeting with various finance officers and catching on to their passion for working in government. Meeting other scholarship winners also created a sense of camaraderie.”

She credits her experience at McMaster’s DeGroote School of Business with helping her to be able to win the Frank L. Greathouse scholarship. “My knowledge in financial modeling developed in my classes at DeGroote, giving me the skills and confidence to develop a revenue budget model for the City of Hamilton,” says Andam.

Andam encourages other students to get involved, and keep an eye out for the opportunities available to them and seek the assistance of DeGroote’s staff.

“DeGroote offers numerous opportunities for students to learn and gain the practical skills that are necessary for their careers. The professors are helpful and so is the staff within the MBA Academic Services Office and the Centre for Business Career Development. I would advise students, new and current, to look for opportunities to get involved and challenge themselves,” says Andam.