Inspiring future accountants: An interview with Dr. Adrian Mayse
Increasing representation for minorities and people of color in the accounting and finance fields is an extremely important mission. In fact, less than 1% of CPAs are Black, according to NABA, the National Association of Black Accountants.
Dr. Adrian Mayse aims to help raise awareness of the field to BIPOC children and elevate Black representation in accounting in his new book, “When I Grow Up I Want To Be… An Accountant.”
This children’s book highlights the roles and responsibilities of accountants from a Black accountant’s perspective, and spotlights characters of different minority backgrounds who are accountants. Becker recently sat down with Dr. Mayse to discuss his new book. Read on to hear about Dr. Mayse’s hopes for readers and his goals to improve diversity in the profession.
Tell us about your book!
My book is called “When I Grow Up I Want To Be… An Accountant,” and is a children’s picture book that helps introduce children to accounting. My purpose in writing the book was to expose children to the world of accounting and for children who are minorities to be able to see themselves on the pages. It is my hope that students hear about the field of accounting at an early age.
What inspired you to write this book?
A major inspiration was the need for more diversity in the accounting profession. Most of the current diversity initiatives focus on high school students, college students and employees within the profession. But, while we have to do all those things, we must also start highlighting the field of accounting as a career path to younger students to encourage them to enter the field.
Many times, we see that children are inspired to be doctors, lawyers, and teachers, but not accountants. I hope this book helps to change that.
As a college professor, why did you choose to write a book for children?
I personally did not know what accounting was or really learn about it until high school, and I still did not have a true understanding or interest in the field until my Bachelor’s and Master’s degree programs. Had I known about the accounting profession at an earlier age, I would have made academic and career decisions that would have better prepared me for my work as an accountant. I strongly believe that children need to be exposed to all possible career opportunities at an early age so that they can make an informed decision about their career possibilities, and I know that my book can help support this goal.
What is one thing you hope that children take away after reading your book?
I hope children and all readers are intrigued by the diversity of people and the world of accounting that I highlight in the book, and that they are inspired to explore different career opportunities that they had previously been unaware of.
Did you always know you wanted to be an accountant? What drove you to the accounting path?
I did not grow up knowing I wanted to be an accountant - I actually had an image of wanting to be a medical doctor when I grew up. As I mentioned, I did not hear about accounting until high school and even then, I was focused on a medical career. It was not until I changed my major to Finance that I considered the accounting path, and when I did, I did not see accounting professionals that looked like me.
When I graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance from the University of Mississippi, I realized that I was not fully prepared for the job market. I soon learned that there were more job opportunities in accounting, so I decided to consider accounting as a career.
When I started my Master of Professional Accountancy program at Jackson State University, I was able to see people who looked like me discuss the opportunities in the accounting profession. I was fortunate that my path allowed me to discover accounting the way that I did.
What was your experience like as a Black accountant?
My experience as a Black accountant has been that I have had to study and work harder than my counterparts. Sometimes, people do not see the value of students from a historically Black college or university (HBCU) or even a minority student.
When I got to Jackson State University, I was amazed by the welcoming and nurturing environment; the majority of my professors were Black or other people of color, whereas I did not have any Black professors at the University of Mississippi. While I did work with other Black accountants, I saw major differences between working as Black accountants versus white accountants.
Why is diversity so important in the accounting profession?
It’s no secret that the accounting profession is made up of a majority of white individuals. As with any profession, the field should be as diverse and representative as the world we live.
What advice do you have to inspire future accountants?
I call for all accountants to share their stories, find creative ways to introduce accounting to young students, advocate for accounting to be included in Pre-K to high school curricula, increase funding to support the profession, and finally, to continue spotlighting the accounting profession.
Dr. Mayse’s book is available for purchase here.
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Dr. Adrian Mayse is a native of Victoria, Mississippi where he graduated as the valedictorian of Byhalia High School in 2002. In 2005, he received his B.B.A. in finance from the University of Mississippi. In 2007, he received his M. P. A. (Master of Professional Accountancy) from Jackson State University. Dr. Mayse worked for the Mississippi Department of Revenue (formerly the Mississippi Tax Commission) for three years as a tax auditor. He became a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in 2010. Dr. Mayse taught as an instructor at Jackson State University in 2012-2013. He received his Ph.D. in accounting in 2014 from Jackson State University. Dr. Mayse taught as an Assistant Professor of Accounting at Middle Tennessee State University from 2013-2015.
Currently, Dr. Mayse is a tenured Associate Professor and Department Chair of Accounting at Howard University. He is a member of the American Accounting Association (AAA), the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA), the PhD Project, the National Society of Black CPAs (NSBCPA) and the National Association of Black Accountants (NABA). He has been recognized for being the youngest tenured Associate Professor of Accounting at Howard University. He has also been featured in Clarion Ledger for his opinion piece on the importance of diversity and inclusion by providing awareness that we can’t break through barriers and leave others behind. Dr. Mayse has a passion for diversity, inclusion and equity in the workplace, classroom and the world.