Sumaya West – New NGP Member

23 August 2019 | Story Sumaya West. Photo Supplied. Read time 4 min.
Sumaya West.
Sumaya West.

I am a senior auditing lecturer in the College of Accounting in the Commerce Faculty. I am very pleased to have been nominated as the newest member of the NGP Programme. I hope to use this opportunity to learn and be inspired by my colleagues who have enjoyed the benefits of this amazing initiative.

So who am I and what makes me tick? This is usually the part where I stare at my screen trying to summarise my journey into a few colourful words. Here goes…an academic career was certainly not something that I ever considered whilst studying at UCT and qualifying as a Chartered Accountant many many moons ago. Academia was not the “preferred” career choice amongst my peers whilst growing up on the sloping hills of Bo-Kaap, Cape Town.

To many of us attending Harold Cressy High School back in the mid-nineties, we always dreamed of creating a better life than what our parents had experienced in the Apartheid era. Back then, my parents and even my two older brothers, coming from coloured communities, were limited in their career choices. My late father somehow “went against the grain” by becoming a bookkeeper despite him leaving school at the age of 15 years old due to financial constraints.

My Dad had a remarkable ability to remember and work with numbers, and this skill definitely had an influence on my career choice. Reflecting back on my teenage years, I think I subconsciously chose accounting as a profession to honour his legacy and prove that “coloured Muslim girls” are also able to follow a career which goes beyond what society expects them to be.

Not being as skilful with the numbers as my father was, I still managed to obtain my BComm degree and qualify as a CA(SA) in 2007. I am naturally a very creative person, always drawing or imagining how to redesign and decorate a home or empty space. I always wanted to study either interior design or architecture, but I settled for the numbers instead, without regrets of course.

When I eventually stumbled upon teaching, I immediately fell in love with the idea that I could use the analytical side of my brain, and at the same time be creative in the way I teach and engage with accounting students. That was almost nine years ago when I joined UCT, and I have never regretted choosing academia as a career.

Since then, I have obtained a Masters in Higher Education, and with the support of my loving husband Saliem, we also raise three little people, aged six, two and one (yes, most days my home is crazy busy with little hands and feet everywhere!) With a background in education, I have recently developed a keen interest in teaching and learning strategies to aid cognitive and skills development in accounting education. I am sure that being part of the NGP programme, I will be able to further develop these interests in my academic career.

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