Professor Profiles: Duke Fuqua’s Bill Mayew

Having the opportunity to learn from the best and brightest minds in business is one of the top motivators for many applicants considering an MBA degree at an elite business school. The professors and lecturers you’ll encounter have worked in the trenches, and bring an incredible wealth of real-world experiences into the classroom setting.

In our new limited series of professor interviews on the SBC blog, readers will get to know a bit more about these brilliant academics, what fields most excite them, the trends they foresee, what they enjoy most about teaching at their respective universities, and how it all comes together with their students.

Fuqua professor Bill MayewToday, let’s meet William Mayew, Associate Professor of Accounting at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business.

Education: BS Accounting (UNC-Wilmington), MS Accounting (UNC-Wilmington), Ph.D (University Of Texas)
Courses taught:   Detecting Earnings Management, Financial Accounting

‘Vocal Fry’ Could Limit Success of Young Female Professionals, Holding Society to Account,  and A Manager’s Word Choice May Help Predict Bankruptcy are just a few of the fascinating articles online where you can learn more about Mayew’s research.

What do you like about the school you are teaching at?

Diversity in student experiences. Fuqua is known for embracing diversity among students, and in the classroom this leads to very rich discussions. I am amazed at some of the questions I get, and they help me think in different ways.

What’s changed since you entered the field?

Financial numbers are now accompanied by publicly broadcasted conference calls, which provides investors with additional information about how to interpret earnings numbers.

It also provides researchers like myself rich data to study the signals investors might respond to, including the earnings numbers, what words managers use, how managers sound when they talk, and how the market responds to financial analysts who ask probing questions during conference calls.

What can you do in the classroom to best prepare students for the real world?

I try to keep my content cutting edge by bringing in academic research and using examples from the popular press. When students can go right from my class to an interview and talk rigorously about current business events, I’ve done my job.

What are you most excited about that’s happening in your field?

Big data means there are more signals that one could analyze to understand how the market digests earnings numbers. There are live blogs, robo-media articles, tweets from companies, etc. that are expanding the information set available to investors. How these information sources combine to move stock prices is an enduring issue.

What role, if any, does ethics play in your curriculum, and how has that evolved over time?

Ethics is important in a class that is essentially about detecting when earnings numbers might not be of high quality. Ethics are the best deterrent for earnings manipulation. Teaching students that earnings management is not just a game that everyone is expected to play, but rather can lead to bad outcomes in the long run is an important part of my course.

How can business leaders make better decisions?

Invest in generating a culture where employees are comfortable sharing their ideas. Information flow inside of companies starts with people who have information being willing to share it. A culture where people feel free to share their ideas generates information flow that will in turn foster good decision-making.

What’s the impact you want to leave on your students? On the world?

I want my students to leave my class equipped in their careers to ask the correct questions.  They will not always know the answer, but if they know how to think about issues and communicate correctly, the will be positioned for long run success.

Thank you Professor Mayew for sharing your time and insights with our readers!

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