Vishal Baloria

PhD Accounting

Vishal Baloria“Accounting is unlike most fields in the Faculty of Arts in that it is an applied field. Very few students choose to continue on to graduate studies,” says Vishal Baloria, a fourth year PhD student in the School of Accounting and Finance at the University of Waterloo. After graduating with his Bachelor of Business Administration, Specialist in Accounting, from the University of Toronto, Vishal earned his CA designation and worked in the industry for just over three years. “I knew I wanted to do something different. I have always been interested in teaching and after some research, I made the decision to apply to graduate school and pursue a career in academia.” Vishal holds his MA in Finance and Economics from McMaster University, and is scheduled to graduate from the PhD program this summer. He is currently preparing for interviews at universities across North America, and a few institutions in Europe.

Vishal’s research focuses on the behavior of organizations, with a particular focus on the intersection of political activity and corporate decision-making. “I collect the investments of US politicians (House of Representatives and Senate) and examine the companies for which they hold stocks. I then look at how that political investment affects the accounting choices made by corporate management.” He then goes on to investigate the perception of third party organizations. “I hypothesize that when a firm has significant investment from a politician, third parties such as stock markets and lenders are going to perceive that investment as a political connection. The assumption is that those companies are less likely to default.”

With a focus on organizational accounting, Vishal’s course work component consisted almost entirely of economics and statistics courses. For graduate students in the judgment and decision-making stream, this course work might be composed of sociology and psychology courses. Students in both streams take common seminar courses covering cutting-edge research on the different functional areas of accounting: auditing, financial reporting, managerial accounting, and taxation. “The faculty does a good job of engaging students both in- and outside of the classroom.” Vishal goes on to explain that visiting professors come to the School of Accounting and Finance each week to give a talk. The school also organizes a brown bag group where graduate students can present an idea for an hour over lunch and receive feedback from peers.

“Waterloo is one of the top universities in Canada for accounting. Once I was fortunate enough to be accepted, there was no choice to be made.” Vishal admits he was surprised to learn that Waterloo is known all over the United States and Europe. “They know the city and they know the school and that is a great thing for someone graduating from this school.”

January 2014 Megan Scarborough

University of Waterloo

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