“I believe the link between research and practice is of fundamental importance, which led me to HBS to pursue my doctoral studies.”
I grew up in Melbourne, Australia, and loved the accounting classes I took while in high school. Consequently, a Bachelor of Commerce (majoring in accounting) at the University of Melbourne was an easy choice. During the first two years of my degree, I studied part-time and worked full-time as an assistant accountant in KPMG Melbourne’s Private Enterprise Group, where I worked on tax and accounting engagements. While I enjoyed my work at KPMG and the financial accounting classes I took during my degree, it was management accounting that really sparked my interest. I was fortunate enough to experience “life as an academic” for two years at the University of Melbourne while I completed my honors year (an additional year of research-based study) on a part-time basis, and worked full-time for the Department of Accounting as a senior tutor. I thoroughly enjoyed both the research (I studied the adoption and use of the Balanced Scorecard in a social welfare organization) and the teaching, and knew I wanted to pursue a career in academia. I believe the link between research and practice is of fundamental importance, which led me to HBS to pursue my doctoral studies.
I study the management control mechanisms (for instance, incentive schemes, allocation of decisions rights, job design) used to motivate and engage employees, with a particular focus on customer-facing employees in retail chains. In my future research, I’m also interested in exploring the management control mechanisms used where employees face multiple, and at times conflicting, objectives (such as financial and social objectives).
Accounting and Management
The Accounting and Management program at HBS is truly wonderful. The faculty are incredibly bright, motivated, and pursuing research in diverse and interesting areas. Many of the faculty members work closely with doctoral students on joint projects or contribute ideas and feedback for individual student projects. I’m currently working primarily with Tatiana Sandino on several research projects in retail chains. I feel lucky to have such a great collaborator and mentor in Tatiana, and I continue to learn from and be inspired by her every day.
The HBS Experience
The thing I love most about HBS is the real opportunity to engage with practitioners and work on research projects that are both practically relevant and contribute to academic knowledge. I’m presently working on projects with two retail chains and am embarking on a large project that will involve several luxury retailers. I’m sure there is no other place that I would be able to do the research that I am doing here at HBS.
The first two years of the doctoral program were the most challenging yet (I’ve just finished my third year in the program) and I’m currently faced with the decision of what project to pursue for my solo-authored dissertation project. Given the considerable amount of time, effort, and energy you devote to any project, you want to be sure that the project that will define you, at least for the short-term, is something you can remain passionate about throughout the entire process.
I would love to become an assistant professor at a business school in the United States with a great group of accounting faculty. I look forward to continuing to pursue my research interests, and teaching the next generation of business leaders and scholars.
Advice for prospective doctoral students
Learn as much as you can about what life in academia entails before committing to any doctoral program. While extremely rewarding, the doctoral program is challenging and long. You want to be sure that it will help you reach your professional and personal goals.
The experience at HBS is truly unique – in many places it is easy to experience a disconnect between research and practice, but at HBS the two are inherently linked, making sure our research contributes not only to the academic community but to the advancement of business practice.