Ask an Academic - Olga Cam - Doctoral Associate in Accounting

— 19.06.18

by Adam Greenwood

Have you ever wanted to know more about our academics?

In our new 'Ask an Academic' interview series, Olga Cam, Doctoral Associate in Accounting, gives us a quick peek into her academic world.

Olga graduated with a Masters degree in Business and Economics from Uppsala University, Sweden. Following a move to the UK, she completed a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (specialist subjects: Business, Accounting and Economics).

Olga gained vast experience in teaching both academic and professional qualifications in accounting and business, this was while working within secondary and tertiary education sectors. In 2015, she joined the Management School as a Doctoral Associate in Accounting and Finance, a role which combines teaching and her ongoing doctoral research commitments.

You joined SUMS in 2015 from Chesterfield College, how did this role prepare you for your current position?

I always found the UK's FE colleges fascinating places as the learners come from very different backgrounds and with very different abilities and expectations. My own teaching experience ranged from working with school leavers who were starting on the path of life-long learning to adult learners many of whom were at the point of change in their professional careers. This experience gave me a real empirical insight into so many educational theories that I have read. I also increased my professional awareness of differences in the pace of individual learning, learning styles, learners' needs and circumstances and much more. I think working in FE college, in combination with having children of my own, taught me to be more patient and careful as an educational professional.

As a Doctoral Associate (DA) in Accounting what do you find motivating/fascinating about your position?

I think as a DA I get the best of both worlds in a university. On the one hand, 50% of the time I am a student again!!! I do reading, learning and writing as my primary task. I meet fascinating PhD students from all over the world and attend seminars, conferences and workshops on the topics that make me consider things within and far beyond our mundane everyday life. I have intellectual food on tab :-) In my PhD journey I have found keys to the world of accounting as a social science, philosophical perspectives in accounting, debates in the accounting education and much more. On the other hand, 50% of my working schedule I am engaged in teaching on undergraduate and post-graduate programs. As a university teacher, I am a part of a large and vibrant community of friendly, supportive and inspiring academic as well as non-academic colleagues and I never feel alone or isolated.

Who or what inspired you to get into education and lecturing?

Since I can remember myself, I always wanted to teach, and after a few life's detours, I finally came into teaching when I moved to the UK following the completion of my Master in Business and Economics. However, I also enjoy learning and lecturing offers even greater opportunities as this position combines teaching with life-long intellectual growth through the pursuit of one’s research interests. Now, having become more familiar with the role of an academic, I also see that university lecturing provides an opportunity to make a difference in the world through for research impact.

What areas of research are you reading about right now that excites you / or that you are involved in?

My research focuses on the undergraduate Accounting Education in the UK's universities. In the literature, many express their concerns about the trajectory of the development and stagnation in the nature of the provision offered. From my own experience, I agree with many of these voices and for my part, I am looking at the processes and outcomes of the current provision in the light of much-debated Sustainable Development. At the moment, using a pedagogical framework, I am untangling the complex context of the UK's undergraduate accounting education. I find it all very interesting, and it will help me to add to the re-think of accounting education.

What advice do you have for anyone wanting to enhance their understanding of accounting?

Over the year of accounting teaching, I have noticed that accounting and accountants are subject to extreme stereotypical ridicule. But the bean-counting and profit maximising perspectives of accounting and accountants are somewhat narrow and dated. Such views, however, lead to a lack of engagement with accounting and limits creating thinking around the subject amongst the future professionals. To get just a few insides into the kaleidoscope of perspective in accounting, I suggest looking at contributions from the Sheffield Management School accounting academics, which seen in the world of accounting research as a cradle of the critical accounting thinking. For example, Frank Birkin and Thomas Polesie (2011) Book ‘Intrinsic Sustainable Development: Epistemes, Science, Business and Sustainability’. The book is 'one of the most unusual, surprising and, indeed, stimulating books' (Gray, 2013) - something I would agree.

As a personal tutor, how do you manage the demands of contact time against student expectations?

I must have the world's best tutees as I have no issue with their demands. But seriously speaking, I see the role of the pastoral tutor as a coach. I cannot solve my tutees' problem, but I can be there to help them in looking for a solution. We meet, and sometimes we have a cup of tea with a biscuit and sometimes not. Together we discuss their progress, reflect on their academic performance, look for opportunities to enhance their university experience, we discuss potential targets for their personal and professional development. I also find the guidelines from the student experience office to be a handy tool a starting point for any of the meetings.

Finally, alumni and students alike will be fascinated by your travels around the world, such as Sweden and grew up in Russia. What advice do you have for aspiring lecturers and researchers in this regard?

This question made me laugh! From a geographical perspective, I can hardly be described as a traveller. I have never been further than Moscow to the East, and it is only this year, at my tender age of 40, I have finally ventured to the USA. However, I have lived and studied for extended periods of my life in several different countries with somewhat distinct political and the economic regimes. On reflection, the travelling added to my personal and professional experiences. I think because of such knowledge, I can see the same topic in my own research from very different angles. I would strongly recommend having such experience to anyone who has a chance as, I think, it helps to keep things in perspective and widen one's personal views lens.

Do you have a question for Olga?

Whether it's to find out more about Olga's research interests, gain career advice or ask about her life at SUMS, please contact the Alumni Team at

Visit Olga's academic profile


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