2022 Best Undergraduate Professors: Kate Suslava, Bucknell University Freeman College of Management

Kate Suslava
Bucknell University Freeman College of Management

“How I wish we could clone Professor Suslava! As chair of Bucknell’s Accounting & Financial Management department, I had the pleasure of recruiting her as a freshly-minted PhD. She has become the model teacher/scholar. Teaching an introductory accounting course to non-majors can be a challenge. She engaged students in this course by providing the option of presenting their financial statement analysis projects via TikTok and, thus, simultaneously helped them learn accounting content and professional use of social media.” – Cynthia Guthrie, Associate Professor and Chair, Accounting & Financial Management

Kate Suslava is Assistant Professor of Accounting at Bucknell University Freeman College of Management.

She relies on her graduate training in linguistics and accounting and her prior experience as an auditor at Ernst and Young to examine the verbal patterns of corporate disclosures. She uses NLP tools to study idioms and fixed expressions, such as euphemisms and clichés, to better understand non-GAAP measures of operating performance in earnings calls, press releases, and analyst reports.

Her work has been cited in Wall Street Journal, CBS News, Alpha Architect and Chicago Booth Review and has been published in Management Science, The Journal of Accounting and Public Policy, The Journal of Financial Reporting, the Journal of Investing, the Journal of Financial Data Science, and the Global Finance Journal.

She has received research awards from The European Investment Forum and Global Finance Conference.

BACKGROUND

At current institution since what year? 2018

Education: Ph.D. in Accounting from Rutgers University, MBA in Accounting and Finance from Rutgers University, B.A. and M.A. in Linguistics from Minsk State Linguistic University

List of Undergraduate courses you teach: Foundations of Accounting and Financial Management, Intermediate Accounting, Financial Statement Analysis

TELL US ABOUT LIFE AS A BUSINESS SCHOOL PROFESSOR

I knew I wanted to be a business school professor when… I learned about the looming shortage of accounting faculty, which was driven by increasing global demand for business education. At the time, I had already earned my CPA and CFA licenses and had 6+ years of professional experience at EY and Hearst Corporation. I knew it was time to head from the boardroom to the classroom and go for a rewarding second career that would allow me to give something back to the society.

What are you currently researching and what is the most significant discovery you’ve made from it? In a nutshell, I teach computers how to read. Using my graduate training in Linguistics, I develop dictionaries of “corporate talk” and train computers to identify verbal patterns across the gigabytes of data. The most interesting finding has been realizing how much language matters and the extent of its impact on the company stock price. For example, I find that when managers soften the blow of poor results with the use of euphemisms (such words as “transition period”, “headwinds”, and “speed bumps”), the company stock price does not drop as much as the price of companies where managers are more straightforward when talking about the company problems.

If I weren’t a business school professor, I’d be… No idea, can’t see doing anything else at this point of my life.

What do you think makes you stand out as a professor? I have a rare combination of academic training and extensive industry experience. Some students shared with me that when they meet me and learn I have a CPA and CFA license, they worry that I’ll be very technical in my teaching style. But then they see that I can also pose questions more broadly and show interdisciplinary aspects of accounting and finance.

One word that describes my first time teaching: Serendipity

Here’s what I wish someone would’ve told me about being a business school professor: How much fun it is

Professor I most admire and why: It’s my dad! He has had a successful academic career as a professor of Computer Science, teaching, mentoring, and supervising thousands of students. I was always amazed at his dedication to his job and his students. When the Soviet Union collapsed, and professors were collecting meager salaries, many of his colleagues left their academic jobs for greener pastures. But my dad continued to educate young minds, deliver his lectures and supervise dissertation work with the same rigor as before. For him, academia was not simply a job, it was his calling.

TEACHING BUSINESS SCHOOL STUDENTS

What do you enjoy most about teaching business students? They have goals and are willing to work hard.

What is most challenging? Time management. I enjoy learning about my students’ dreams and sometimes don’t notice how time flies.

In one word, describe your favorite type of student: Curious

In one word, describe your least favorite type of student: Complacent

When it comes to grading, I think students would describe me as…a fair grader, I give extra credit opportunities, but also like to include test questions that tickly their mind.

LIFE OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM

What are your hobbies? Reading, hiking, traveling

How will you spend your summer? Working on new research projects, practicing yoga, and taking long walks on the Rail Trail in Lewisburg

Favorite place(s) to vacation: Key West

Favorite book(s): The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt and The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah

What is currently your favorite movie and/or show and what is it about the film or program that you enjoy so much? I enjoy watching The Handmaid’s Tale. These series appear to show an imaginary place in the future – Gilead, but, in fact, it overlaps with some trends in today’s world, like strengthening of totalitarian regimes, radicalization of society, and environmental disasters.

What is your favorite type of music or artist(s) and why? I like soothing “elevator” music, lol, that helps me relax and unwind.

THOUGHTS AND REFLECTIONS

If I had my way, the business school of the future would have much more of this… Global perspective! Our society can be so much more open-minded and responsible if we had more global education courses.

In my opinion, companies and organizations today need to do a better job at… being supportive of work-life balance and creating an inclusive environment.

I’m grateful for… the support of my family, and especially my husband. He has been my biggest cheerleader as I was completing my PhD, looking for a job, and settling into a new career.

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