Earning a doctorate degree is an enormous accomplishment. It comes after many years of dedication to a field of study, intense research training and forming collaborative relationships with world-class faculty. But once you have the degree, what comes next?
Before embarking on the next phase of his journey, the Fox Editorial team had the chance to catch up with Steven Maex, PhD ’22, a recent graduate from the PhD in Business Administration program at the Fox School. Maex reflects on his time in the PhD program and how it prepared him for the next step in his career as a tenure-track professor of accounting at George Mason University.
What were some of the highlights of your program?
SM: One of the most beneficial aspects of Temple’s accounting program was being able to learn from and work with professors that are true leaders in their respective fields. The research interests of Fox faculty are incredibly diverse, and this diversity seemed to be a real differentiator when considering PhD programs. Being able to take seminars with so many of these professors allowed me to gain a well-rounded accounting education. Further, during paper presentations, I could always count on incredibly insightful feedback from angles that I had not previously considered.
Also, it was apparent from my early days in the program that my advisors took a personal interest in my success. During the program, I felt very comfortable going to them with any issues, challenges or concerns. Having their support as I achieved key milestones, such as making my first conference presentation or receiving my job offer from George Mason, made my progress through the program incredibly rewarding.
Lastly, I was given the ability to integrate my professional background as an IT auditor at KPMG into my experience in the program by having the opportunity to teach a course in accounting information systems and guest lecturing on related topics. I was happy to maintain this connection to practice as I moved into academia.
What were some of the features or resources the Fox School offered that were particularly beneficial to your success?
One resource I benefited from during the early stages of my dissertation was the student research competitions. These competitions force you to hone your research at an early stage and present it in a manner that is palatable to a generalized audience. The feedback I received was instrumental in helping me improve my dissertation as I entered the job market and prepared for my proposal and defense. I was lucky enough to win the first prize in the “Dissertation Proposal” category this past year, and it was nice to receive this boost during what can be a stressful period in the PhD program.
The Fox School also offers copy-editing services, which I’ve always found to be very useful. Whether looking for assistance in fully forming an introduction to a paper or looking for a final check on grammar and consistency before the submission to a conference or journal, the copy editors do a great job of tailoring their feedback based on the student’s level of writing capability.
Mentorship plays a big role in the PhD program. Who were some of the folks that helped you through and how did their guidance contribute to your success?
SM: I’ve been very blessed to have great mentors throughout my professional and academic career. At Fox, this is particularly true for my advisors (and co-chairs on my dissertation), Jagan Krishnan and Jayanthi Krishnan. They have dedicated an incredible amount of time and energy to helping me develop both personally and as an academic. Most importantly, they have provided me with incredible perspective and support through any personal or professional challenges that I encountered while in the PhD program.
I also, of course, need to acknowledge the other members of my dissertation committee, Yi Liang, Hyun Park and Sunil Wattal, who were extremely supportive and helpful as I constructed and defended my dissertation. Beyond that, there is a very long list of other faculty members that have helped me in both small and large ways during my time in the program, and I owe a debt of gratitude to each of them as I move to the next stage of my career.
What were some aspects of the program that specifically helped prepare you for your current role?
SM: The Fox PhD program encourages its students to attend and present at conferences, which I think is very valuable and beneficial to PhD students. These forums allowed me to refine my research based on feedback from individuals outside of Temple and to build connections that will be invaluable as I embark on the next stage of my academic journey.
Now that you’ve graduated, what would be some of the key features of the Fox School and your program that you would relay to someone interested in pursuing a PhD in business?
SM: The breadth of expertise across various fields and disciplines, particularly in the accounting space, is one of the most important aspects that I would stress. There are strong, research-active faculty members at both the senior and junior levels. Having these individuals at both levels gives you the opportunity to both understand the big-picture considerations for a given research topic and to learn the basics of executing a research project on a day-to-day basis.
Also, Philadelphia is a great and vibrant city. If you’re going to spend five years of your life studying and working in a given place, you want it to be somewhere enjoyable. For many reasons—the food scene, the art and culture, the passion for the hometown sports teams and more—Philadelphia fits the bill.