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Robert McGee

Robert McGee (PhD Industrial and Business Studies 1982-86) is something a renaissance man: author, educator, accounting consultant and martial artist.

As a consultant he has worked to reform the accounting systems of former Soviet republics and communist bloc countries. He drafted the accounting laws for Armenia and Bosnia, reviewed the accounting law for Mozambique and reviewed securities legislation for Turkey. He has lectured or worked in more than 30 countries and at the recent Taekwondo National Championships in Orlando, USA he competed in the 60-99 year-old category and won eight gold medals.

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You studied for a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies at Warwick, how did that help you in your career?
It made all the difference. It enabled me to obtain several teaching positions in American universities and also visiting professorships in various other countries in Europe, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa and Australia.

What are the most challenging parts of your job?
The most challenging part of my job is teaching students who are unprepared or who do not like accounting. Part of my teaching responsibilities include teaching the undergraduate survey courses that all business majors must take. I also teach the financial and managerial accounting courses in the MBA program. In all these cases, the vast majority of students are taking my course because they have to, not because they want to. I have to try to make the course interesting for nonaccounting majors. Sometimes that is difficult. Once in a while I can persuade a student to switch majors to accounting. That is gratifying.

What have you done that you are most proud of?
I have done a few things that I am proud of. I used to be a consultant to private contractors that had USAID [United States Agency for International Development] contracts to reform the accounting systems of the various former Soviet republics and communist bloc countries. I drafted the accounting laws for Armenia and Bosnia and reviewed the accounting law for Mozambique. I reviewed securities legislation for Turkey and have lectured or worked in more than 30 countries. I was in charge of reforming the accounting curriculum for all the universities in Armenia and Bosnia.

I have published 58 nonfiction books and more than 600 articles in the fields of accounting, taxation, public finance, economics, law, ethics and philosophy. A few studies have ranked me #1 in the world for either accounting ethics or business ethics scholarship.

One of my current projects is to write a series of novels. My first novel is titled Justifiable Homicide: A Political Thriller. It will be in print by the end of 2013. I have also won a total of 15 gold medals at the American Taekwondo Association National Championship tournaments [eight at the most recent tournament held in Orlando in October, 2013 and seven at the prior tournament held in Las Vegas]. I compete in the 60-99 year-old category.

What drives you?
I have an inner drive to always be productive. I feel guilty if I relax too much. I feel that I should always be doing something. As a result, I am usually occupied with productive projects from the time I get up in the morning until my head hits the pillow at night.

What single thing would most improve the quality of your life?
Winning the lottery. It would enable me to quit work so I could devote more time to my projects.

What was your favorite aspect of the Industrial and Business Studies programme at Warwick?
My thesis supervisor, Roger Fawthrop, was amazing. He gave me excellent advice and expanded my intellectual horizons.

What would you tell someone thinking of studying at Warwick?
Do it. Warwick will stimulate your brain and change the way you think forever.

Is there anything you wish you had done differently during your time as a student?
I should have submitted my thesis chapters to the TOP journals instead of second-tier journals.

How do you balance work and life?
My work is my life. There is a joke in the United States about the difference between east coast (New York) and west coast (California) people. People on the east coast live to work; people on the west coast work to live. I am an east coast person.

If you could choose another profession, what would it be?
Novelist.

Where do you hope to be in 10 years’ time?
Writing novels in a warm place (but not hell).

What three objects would you take with you to a desert island?
Fish hooks, lots of fishing line and a knife.

What are your favourite memories of your years at Warwick?
Travel. When you come from a small town in America like I do, England seems like an exotic country. I enjoyed visiting the area around Warwick and mingling with the people.

Do you have any advice for new graduates?
Try to have fun doing what you are doing. If you don’t like your job, change it. Find a job that makes you want to get up in the morning.

Robert W McGee: the facts
Age: 66
Lives: Fayetteville, North Carolina [one of the 13 original British colonies], which is about halfway between New York and Miami.
Education: PhD, Industrial and Business Studies, Warwick Business School.
JD, law, Cleveland State University.
MST, taxation, DePaul University
BA, social science, Gannon University
CPA (Certified Public Accountant)
Member of the New York Bar
Career: Public and private accounting, consulting, banking, nonprofits, teaching accounting at Fayetteville State University.
Interests: Reading, writing, travel, Taekwondo.