By: Michael L. Jackson
Since earning her undergraduate degree in accounting from China’s Xiamen University in 1997, Lin Zheng has seen many changes in accounting standards in her home country.
“Technically, accounting is the same across the world because it all relies on the basic accounting equation to make things happen,” says Zheng, who joined the Kelley School of Business faculty in August as a clinical associate professor of accounting. “One of the big differences between China and the U.S. in the late 1990s is that China’s economy wasn’t developing like it is today. So there weren’t so many complicated business activities at that time. Therefore, accounting systems and accounting standards in China were not as complicated as U.S. (generally accepted accounting principles).”
Zheng worked as an auditor and financial analyst for Chinese companies for two years before coming to the United States in 1999 to pursue her Ph.D. in accounting from the University of Alabama. Since earning her Ph.D. in 2003, she has taught at a variety of public and private colleges and universities across the U.S.
“I’ve taught at every level: undergraduate, graduate, executive and professional,” said Zheng. “I like to teach Financial Accounting because that’s the foundation for all accounting students. I also like to teach Managerial Accounting.”
“Most of the students here, once they have some accounting education, they’re going to apply it to their jobs in a management field. I think it’s critical for them to understand accounting from a manager’s perspective.”
In her first semester at Kelley, Zheng taught undergraduate courses in Cost Accounting and Honors Managerial Accounting. She also taught Managing Accounting Information and Decision Making to Kelley Direct students.
“It’s very exciting to be teaching at one of the top business schools in the nation,” she said.
Zheng says her teaching style is generally shaped by the students in her class and how much exposure they’ve previously had to the world of accounting. She also likes dispelling any preconceived notions that accounting is simply a bookkeeping job.
“These days, accountants are focusing more of their time on data analysis,” she said. “Once you know where the numbers are coming from, you’ve got to use them to help make business decisions.”
“I like to engage students in activities, so my classes aren’t just driven by the lecture. A lot of people don’t necessarily get excited about accounting. So I think the design of the curriculum is very important in getting students to understand and appreciate the importance of accounting in a business setting.”