Cassette Tape Counsel

PROVO, Utah – Feb 24, 2020 – Since losing his mom at just eight years old, BYU Marriott's School of Accountancy associate professor Josh Lee has relied on a cassette tape recording she left him to guide him throughout his life—a life that led him to accepting a job at BYU Marriott in 2019.

“What has helped me most in my life is thinking, ‘What would Mom want me to do?’” says Lee. Lee’s mother left each of her five children a tape sharing her testimony of Jesus Christ and counseling each child on what she hoped they would do with their lives.

“As I got older and reached mission age, I listened to the tape, and on the tape my mom told me to go on a mission. I went on a mission,” says Lee. “She said when it's time to find a companion and get married, make sure you're worthy to go to the temple, and I’ve always tried to live up to that.”

With his mom’s counsel in mind, Lee attended BYU, where he fell in love with accounting and graduated with both a bachelor’s and a master's degree in accounting at BYU Marriott in 2009. “Accounting just melds with the way my brain works,” says Lee.

As a student, Lee completed an internship at one of the big accounting firms but decided to go another direction and joined the PhD prep track in the MAcc program. “As soon as I started learning about the research, I knew 100 percent that this was the right thing for me,” says Lee. After graduating, Lee headed to Washington University in St. Louis to pursue his PhD.

After graduating from Washington University in 2014, he worked as an assistant professor of accounting at Florida State University and then tenured as an associate professor of accounting at the University of Georgia. When Lee heard of an open position at BYU Marriott, he did not think much of it. “My family had just built a house, we had five kids, and we loved Georgia,” says Lee. “On paper, it made no sense for us to leave.”

Even though Lee and his wife, Diana, were happy with where they were living, they decided to check out BYU anyway. “After my interview at BYU, I came down the stairs in the administration building, and this feeling overwhelmed me. I knew our family was supposed to come here,” says Lee. He credits every decision, from getting a PhD, to working in Georgia and then moving to Utah, to Diana. “Our marriage has always been a team effort,” says Lee.

Together, the Lees decided BYU Marriott was the right choice, so they moved across the country to Utah in summer 2019, and welcomed their sixth child a few months later in November. “With six kids, they’re my hobby,” says Lee. “Outside of work, all of my time is spending quality time with my children.”

As a new faculty member, Lee can already see the differences between his students at BYU Marriott and other schools he has studied and worked at. “BYU students bring a different spirit to classes,” says Lee. “The students here are craving spiritual connection, which has been a breath of fresh air.”

When Lee thinks about the life and choices he has made, including his return to BYU Marriott, he goes back to the tape his mother left him. “My mother made a huge impact on the way I view life, and I know that if I do what she's asked me to do on that tape, we can be together again.”

School of Accountancy professor Josh Lee.
School of Accountancy associate professor Josh Lee.
Josh Lee and his mother Lynn Lee.
Josh Lee, right, and his mother Lynn Lee. Photo Courtesy of Josh Lee.
Josh Lee with his family.
Josh Lee with his family. Photo Courtesy of Josh Lee.

Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Kate Monroe