While Peggy Bishop Lane is vice dean of Wharton’s executive MBA program, she’s also known among students for teaching Financial Accounting. The recipient of multiple teaching awards, including the “Tough but we’ll thank you in five years award,” Peggy says the best part of her job is “helping students learn, expand their horizons and succeed.”
Q. How is your Financial Accounting class structured?
I teach Financial Accounting on each coast every other year. Last summer I taught in San Francisco, and this summer I am teaching in Philadelphia. The class introduces financial accounting, giving students the ability to read and interpret financial statements to be able to communicate with colleagues, investors and creditors about the financial position of their firm or other firms. I follow each class lecture with an examination of real financial statements as well as articles in the news related to a topic we are discussing. For example, a new financial accounting is being proposed for leases, and we will use articles in the financial press to discuss how that new rule works and is different from the current rules. I also use case studies to explore the topics we study.
Q. Do students need a quantitative background for your course?
No, they just need an understanding of basic math functions and a little bit of algebra. Mathematically it’s pretty simple, but the material is rule-based and there are exceptions to the rules, which can be confusing for some. It’s a lot like a Sudoku puzzle. You know there is an answer, but there are multiple pathways to the answer.
Q. What do you like about teaching EMBA students?
I love how they can instantly apply what we’re doing in class to their work environment. I hear this from students as early as after the first week of class. As a professor, it’s incredibly rewarding to hear how students use what you teach.
Q. You’ve won the “Tough but we’ll thank you in five years award” many times at Wharton, and more recently you won the “Excellence in teaching award” for the EMBA program. What is your teaching style?
I really challenge my students. My classes aren’t easy, but students recognize the benefits from having to work hard and learn at the level I expect from them. Students also tell me I’m enthusiastic about accounting, which they view as a good thing, and is also probably unexpected.
Q. What does your role as vice dean involve?
I work to ensure the quality of the program in terms of admissions, academic instruction and the student experience. I also strive to ensure that the program continues to move forward and evolve. And I am a resource for students, faculty and staff. If students have questions or concerns – personally or academically – I’m here for them.
Q. What is the best part of your job?
The best part is interacting with students. I really enjoy being around them, hearing what they’ve done in their lives, and how they apply what they learn here. It’s great to help people learn, expand their horizons, and succeed.
Q. What tips do you give prospective students in the admissions process?
Be yourself. Don’t try to fit into what you think we want because then you won’t be happy here if you’re actually not that person. Do your homework to make sure we’re the right place for you. And definitely prepare for the GMAT before you take it.
Q. What else do you want prospective students to know about Wharton’s EMBA program?
They should know that the quality of this program stems of course from our faculty, but also their fellow students. When they come here, they can be assured they are learning with intellectually curious, interesting and worldly people. That is true of both our faculty and students.
Also, the community of students, faculty and staff here is very important. You don’t just come to campus and take a bunch of classes and graduate. We have the residential component because it’s critical to get to know each other well and form close bonds. Those bonds will stick with students throughout their lives. And having two campuses creates some very interesting opportunities for study as well as expanding that community.
Q. What brought you to Wharton as a professor in 1997?
Wharton gave me an offer I couldn’t refuse. It’s the best business school in the world with the best accounting department in the world. And I loved the idea of living in Philadelphia. How could I not come here?
Q. How do you spend your time when you’re not at Wharton?
I spend it with my family. I have an 11-year-old son and being with him is a very important and fun part of my life.
Q. Can you tell us something about yourself that students might not know?
I grew up in Miami, FL and am a huge football and baseball fan. My favorite teams are the Miami Dolphins and of course the Philadelphia Phillies.