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Mariama Sow: "I have never been afraid of difference"
For the third year of her Bachelor's degree - and before joining the dual master's degree in Corporate and Public Management offered by Sciences Po and HEC Paris - Mariama Dalanda Sow chose to do an academic exchange at the prestigious Strathmore Business School in Nairobi. The 21-year-old student tells us about her experience and her desire to use it to make an impact in Guinea, her home country.
"One of the main purposes of the third year at Sciences Po is to be able to confront and adapt to differences. I have never been afraid of difference: it is, on the contrary, a factor of joy and excitement for me because I am convinced that we always learn a lot from otherness. In the words of Montaigne, I like to "rub and polish my brain against that of others".
I chose to do my university exchange in Nairobi because Kenya is a model for other African countries in terms of growth. As a young Guinean woman who dreams of one day making an impact on her country, I need to understand the trajectory and strengths of this nation.
My exchange at Strathmore Business School, considered the best school in Kenya for business studies, was extremely enriching. Intellectually, my greatest encounter was probably with my auditing professor, a Strathmore figure who has been with the school since its inception and is the Dean of the Faculty of Accounting. He introduced me to the fundamentals of the discipline with such intelligence and pedagogy that I developed a passion for the subject. I even started to take additional courses online.
I also joined the senate of the Secretary General of Strathmore Student Council as well as the International Students Association and the Debate Club. These experiences allowed me to meet students from all over Africa, to exchange ideas, to understand their visions but also to notice the disparity - which I already suspected - between West Africa, where I come from, and East Africa.
Beyond the school, I was very inspired by the entrepreneurial environment and the passion for innovation in Nairobi, especially since the actors of this change were often my age - sometimes even younger! They were all driven by the same desire to change things. However, I regretted not leaving Strathmore more often: the school is mainly made up of students from a certain socio-professional category and therefore does not reflect Kenyan society as a whole. As a result, I decided to do my internship in the same country to discover more of it.
With the help of my auditing teacher, I managed to join Deloitte Kenya Limited. I couldn't have wished for a better first field experience as Deloitte is one of the "Big Four", the four largest audit and consulting firms in the world. With a 360-degree view of the audited company and the challenges and regulations it faces, I can now analyse and understand the economic and financial system of the country. In addition, thanks to Deloitte's large client portfolio, I am exposed to a huge variety of companies, ranging from energy companies to insurers to other consulting firms. I am now in a prime position to learn a lot about the economic and financial dynamics in the country. I look forward to seeing all the wonderful projects I have witnessed come to fruition!”