Ghanaian Dr Haruna Maama is the first member of his family to attend university.
From humble beginnings where he walked about 10 kilometres to and from school each day, he completed his PhD study in a record time of 20 months.
Maama’s study focused on integrated reporting, a form of financial reporting that includes information on firms’ value creation activities, especially in terms of how their operations affect society and the environment. In contrast, conventional accounting practices are geared towards the needs of shareholders. Integrated reporting is an under-researched phenomenon, especially in emerging economies like Ghana. The study examined the factors that influence integrated reporting and how it impacts the value, performance, and the cost of capital of firms in developing countries that operate in unique political, social, cultural, and legal settings.
Maama said that he chose to study at UKZN because it is among the best universities in the world. He added that the University changed his perspectives of research and life: ‘At UKZN, I realised greatness can be achieved if you believe and aspire to it. The academic environment at UKZN taught me that universities play a key role in one’s intellectual growth. The School of Accounting, Economics, and Finance has a state-of-the-art research centre and its Microeconomics Research Unit (MRU) promotes knowledge sharing.’
Maama expressed his deep gratitude to his mentor and supervisor, Professor Msizi Mkhize of the School of Accounting, Economics and Finance. ‘My relationship with Professor Mkhize was more brotherly than a student-supervisor relationship. I had unfettered access to him. His encouragement, knowledge, and generous support were pivotal to my growth as a scholar. He provided me with an opportunity to express my views, which many students would relish. Our relationship proved that choosing a PhD supervisor is as important as choosing a life partner.’ He also thanked Professor Harold Ngalawa, Dr Adebayo Kutu, and members of the MRU for developing his scholarly knowledge and skills. Last but not least, he said that he owes his success to his parents, wife, family, and friends. ‘My siblings and I grew up thinking that our parents were rich, when, in fact they were not. They ensured that we lacked nothing, especially when it came to our education. They sacrificed so much for us.’
Maama identified time constraints as his major challenge as he was teaching at the Durban University of Technology while undertaking his research. To cope with these demands as well as family commitments, he sacrificed his social life and admits to not getting enough sleep!