Portrait of Kate Suslava

Kate Suslava, Accounting

November 3, 2021

Professor Kate Suslava, accounting, is co-author of the study showing the benefits of having a female CFO. Photo by Gordon R. Wenzel

Students here are very active, very involved. It's exciting to teach future leaders of this country.

With a background that includes a bachelor's degree in linguistics, a doctorate in accounting, and employment at Ernst & Young and the Hearst media empire, Professor Kate Suslava, management, likes to share more than "textbook knowledge" with her students.

In fact, Suslava's first teaching position, as an English-language instructor at a community college, drew heavily upon her experience as an immigrant, and cemented her desire to be in the classroom.

"I was teaching students who were looking for a better life, and who needed to learn to read and write quickly," she says. "I could understand their struggles. You really feel like you're part of a community when you're teaching."

Suslava, who once planned to study Italian dialects as a graduate student, notes that she has found a way to merge linguistics and management in her current research at Bucknell's Freeman College of Management. For example, she has studied how managers' use of euphemisms in certain conference calls correlates with their companies' stock prices. Heavy use of phrases such as "hit some speed bumps" or "encountered a headwind," used to couch negative news, can be reflected in stock price drops for up to three months.

"The study connects verbal communication to real action in the market," Suslava explains. "You can build a trading strategy based on this."

Suslava has also examined how executives' discussions of trade wars impacted the subsequent volatility of their companies' stocks, another project that connected language and management research.

"When I was studying for my doctorate, I thought I'd be working with numbers," she says. "Then I discovered the possibilities for interdisciplinary research."

Suslava notes that she enjoys linking theoretical ideas to concrete practice, and often reminds her Bucknell students that the knowledge they gain in her accounting and finance courses can be put to immediate use. "After one year, students have enough skills to do basic work in financial analysis," she says. "They don't have to wait to apply that knowledge. And I use my coursework to address current topics in accounting, focusing on things students really need to know."

Suslava, who is also a licensed certified public accountant and chartered financial analyst, adds that she was drawn to Bucknell and the Freeman College by the quality of the faculty and the student body, as well as opportunities to conduct research. "Students here are very active, very involved," she says. "It's exciting to teach future leaders of this country."