In talking about the 2017 U.S. corporate tax cuts, EMBA students in Debby Turner’s Financial and Managerial Accounting class delved into a significant financial reporting issue—stock repurchasing.
Turner turns this recent financial move—companies accelerating their stock buybacks—into a relevant lesson on accounting and reporting. She often rips headlines from the news to demonstrate accounting in action. It prompted one student to tell her: “I will never read the Wall Street Journal the same again.”
And that is music to Turner’s ears, because it fits with her aim of recognizing the value of accounting and using accounting principles and tools at work.
“I want everyone to leave the class with an appreciation of how accounting knowledge can help them in their careers,” says Turner, associate professor of accounting and John and Wendi Wells Associate Professor for Teaching Excellence at Georgia Tech Scheller College of Business.
“They don’t have to love accounting, but they have to appreciate accounting. I want them to be excited to learn more.”
Her teaching awards offer testament to her success: She is a repeat winner of the Executive MBA Outstanding Professor Award and received the American Women’s Society of Certified Public Accountants’ (AWSCPA) Educator of the Year Award and the Georgia Society of CPAs’ Accounting Educator of the Year Award.
She covers much ground in one semester, using mini-case vignettes, readings, and assignments, which all help drive discussion. In one continuing exercise, she leads students through the study of Intel’s 10-K annual report from front to back. This exercise sets the stage for understanding and analyzing the financial statements of a variety of companies.
During the course, students also complete an ongoing project where they choose a company, complete a financial analysis, and compare the results to other companies. Because they better understand the power of accounting, all the work helps students make greater contributions to their organizations, says Turner.
“You’d think it would be really boring, but we have the liveliest of discussions,” she says.
As teacher and facilitator, Turner makes sure the classroom stays vibrant, which requires constant cycling of activities and careful planning. “Basically, I have learned that less is more, that I have to choose the most important topics and know that I am not going to be able to cover all the topics,” says Turner. “It’s better to cover fewer topics in more depth, and that’s a skill I’m still learning.”
Turner has taught EMBA students since the program began in the 1990s and continues to enjoy the thrill and rewards of teaching. “I still hear from students in my first EMBA class,” she says. “I am inspired by my students and truly love being in the classroom.”