My students see how difficult it is to negotiate with others and maintain respect and a friendly relationship but still have a firm point of view.

Cindy Guthrie

Counting candy for credit? It's more difficult than it sounds, according to Professor Cindy Guthrie, management.

As part of her audit class, where Guthrie treats her students as if they were her associates, she asks teams to inventory a bag of candy. The challenge is that Guthrie has replaced the contents of boxed candy with rice, put in "obsolete" candy, and added or removed candy during the counting process. The primary take-aways for students? "Things are not always what they seem to be, and auditors must adapt quickly to change," she says.

In the classroom, Guthrie's real-world situations go beyond inventory. She also sets up client and auditor teams where auditors negotiate changes to a financial statement so that it is fair and accurate while still being sensitive to the client's perspective.

"The students see how difficult it is to negotiate with others and maintain respect and a friendly relationship but still have a firm point of view. There's a great deal of psychology involved with auditing."

Guthrie teaches accounting and auditing, and her research interests align with the behavioral aspects of auditing and fraud prevention. One research stream focuses on what motivates employees to report wrongdoing, a question she tackled in a whistleblowing study with a co-author at North Carolina State University.

"Reporting wrongdoing in your own organization takes a great deal of moral courage," she says. "The majority of fraud in businesses is reported by employees, so finding ways to increase whistleblowing and support employees who do it is good for organizations. I'd like to be some small part of the solution."

Additionally, Guthrie studies gender and work-life integration issues as they relate to professionals in public accounting. She and a colleague have examined "how ideal mentoring relationship structures differ for women and men."

Beyond the classroom, Guthrie brings her experience as a professional financial adviser to the Career Development Center's Life After Bucknell program, where seniors can learn personal finance skills. As a financial planner, she saw how common it was for individuals and couples to make poor spending and saving decisions, and she has developed a passion for helping students attain financial literacy and make wise choices.

Her advice to students in the program is straightforward: "Financial decisions are important and have numerous consequences. Have a plan and think before committing to spending and debt."

Updated Sept. 30, 2016


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