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My Research Journey: Professor Malcolm Smith

Thursday, 29 September 2011


I never meant to be a researcher. I had been happily teaching at a UK polytechnic for ten years, writing new cases for teaching purposes, but never publishing anything. Then I found I could not get another job – my CV was the same as it had been when I joined – more experience but ten years of the same!

At the time scarcely anybody had a PhD in accounting, and very few had a Masters degree. But it was also the golden time for funded study leave, so off I went to London to get an MBA. Why London? I just happened to have read an article in The Sunday Times by a chap called Richard Taffler about predicting corporate bankruptcy, and thought to myself, ‘That looks interesting – I would like to work with him.’

So I became his student, commuting daily from Newmarket to London, and completing an MBA with distinction over 12 months. Fortunately, the ‘old’ MBAs then included a dissertation component – my first taste of the excitement of research – and something which set me up to enrol in a PhD part-time, with Professor Richard Taffler as my supervisor.

The completed PhD changed my life. As well as a doctorate it gave me nine publications in refereed journals. Good jobs – and a move to Australia – were now feasible, and promotion quick, since accounting PhDs were still rare.

My job is now most concerned with getting others to feel that same ‘buzz’ about research, to recognise the importance of a PhD, and to choose the ‘right’ supervisor. Doctoral supervision and joint publication have given me new friends all around the world.


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