Swim or Sink

Olusegun Oludare Written by Olusegun Oludare · 1 min read >

As promised in my last post, today I will be sharing my experience working on the Corporate Financial Accounting course capstone project. There is an old myth about a peculiar ritual allegedly carried out by Ijaw people in the south-south region of Nigeria. It is generally believed that the Ijaw people are one-in-spirit with water; hence, they can never be drowned in it. To prove therefore that a child is truly Ijaw, sometimes before the child’s first birthday, he or she is taken to a riverbank and thrown into the river. If the child is indeed Ijaw, the belief is that he or she would float, and the river will return the child to the riverbank. Otherwise, the child is allowed to drown, proving he or she does not belong to the Ijaw nation. Whether this ritual truly exists or not, I cannot tell. However, while working on the capstone project, I felt it was Prof Owolabi’s version of throwing those of us without any prior accounting knowledge into the river to see if we will swim or drown.

Prof made it clear from the beginning that he would be selecting the most “non-accounting” member of the group for the presentation of the project and the entire group will be evaluated based on the performance of the presenter. I thought about it for a minute and wondered how the presenter will face his or her group afterward if the presentation goes “south” and the entire group scored poorly. No pressure, I said to myself with a sarcastic smile on my face.

The first lesson I learned was the power of synergy. Indeed, the whole was truly greater than the sum of its parts in the case of my group. Those with accounting backgrounds in the group provided much-needed guidance with the research and framework for the project. Those of us without accounting experience got actively engaged in other supporting activities. The project helped me understand the practical application of concepts like ratio, vertical, horizontal, and trend analysis. When these concepts were taught in class, they seemed abstract like rocket science. Thanks to the accounting gurus in the group, I now knew about Dupont analysis: a technique used for understanding drivers of Return-On-Equity.

The second lesson I learned was about the cliché that a group or team is as good as its leader. Our very competitive team leader ensured the project was completed on time and ensured every member of the group was carried along every step of the way. She insisted we practice the presentation repeatedly until the “least” accounting-inclined person in the group is as fluent as their accountant groupmates.

On the day of the presentation, before “baba”- as Prof Owolabi is fondly called by MEMBA 11 executives – mentioned the name of the first presenter, you could cut the tension in the hall with a knife. As expected, baba called on a medical doctor from my group. By the time she was done delivering her presentation, Prof had the facial expression of an Ijaw man whose child was returned to him by the river.   


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