A professor in both Accountancy and Information and Process Management, Jane Fedorowicz holds a PhD from Carnegie Mellon University. She currently holds the position of Chester B. Slade Professor of Accounting and Information Systems. She enjoys researching real-world problems with an interdisciplinary perspective, like her work on public safety networks and police use of social media.
What changes have occurred in the accounting industry that led Bentley to launch a master of science program in audit analytics (MSAA)?
The accounting industry has been quick to explore and adopt new technologies in recent years, such as data analytics, AI, blockchain, Internet of Things, and XBRL. They must also be able to assist and audit their clients who incorporate these new capabilities in their own business processes. As a result there is high demand for staff who can work in these areas both within public accounting and in industry — anywhere where large amounts of data is collected and awaits analysis and interpretation. New hires will need to come in with extensive skills to fill these new roles, where analytical expertise coupled with deep domain knowledge is requisite.
What are some specific roles that audit analytics graduates will be prepared to fill within organizations and what skills will they bring to their teams?
Many students in the MSAA program will seek jobs in public accounting, especially as analytics experts who participate in audits. They might also become “big data” consultants within a public accounting or consulting firm, or focus on fraud detection or risk assessment and management within public accounting. There will also be plenty of jobs in the internal auditing or business analytics areas of large corporations.
MSAA students will have the perfect combination of business, accounting, IT and analysis skills to provide immediate value wherever they land. All courses span more than one of these areas, giving students the knowledge of what data is needed, where to find it, how best to analyze it, and then how to produce effective visualizations of their findings. The courses they will take combine to prepare them to locate, extract, clean, analyze, evaluate data, and then communicate findings with clients, auditors, technologists and other analysts.
What educational background will be most helpful to students coming into your program?
An undergraduate accounting degree would give students the best foundation for an MSAA. Students without this degree will be asked to take pre-program courses to give them the background they need to succeed in the program.
How did you get started teaching in the graduate Accountancy program?
My first teaching assignment at Bentley was to teach the undergraduate “Accounting Information Systems” course. Once I became tenured and was awarded the Rae D. Andersen Chair, I was asked to specialize in the graduate version of AIS, entitled “Business Processes and Systems Assessment,” which is my current teaching focus. I make changes to the course every year, to keep students aware of the control challenges auditors face when new technologies change clients' business processes.
What’s your favorite thing about working with Bentley graduate students?
Bentley's graduate students are willing to work hard and invest in learning not only the course material, but also the skills and mannerisms needed to succeed in a fast-paced career. Those who come prepared to excel in life usually do!
What was your first job after grad school?
My first job was Assistant Professor of Accounting and Information Systems at Northwestern University's Kellogg Graduate School of Management. I taught their Management Information Systems required course, and a course on Data Base Management. I've come almost full circle as I now hold a joint appointment in Accountancy and in the Information and Process Management Department. My dual identity continues!