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Exclusive Interview with New PCAOB SAG Member: Professor Sridhar Ramamoorti

Roger CPA Review recently had the chance to interview Professor Sridhar Ramamoorti.  Dr. Ramamoorti currently teaches in the School of Accountancy at Kennesaw State University, located in the great state of Georgia. He is a seasoned professional who has 30 years of experience in the fields of auditing, consulting, and academia. Professor Ramamoorti was recently appointed as one of the standing advisory group (SAG) members of the PCAOB. We are excited for him as he adds this appointment to his list of 15 professional designations!


Why is the CPA important and what does it mean to you?

There are two things that auditors today need (and have always needed): knowledge/technical expertise and independence and integrity, which flows from their professional obligations to the public and investors at large. [To be a CPA] is a huge responsibility and requires [accountants] to uphold the highest level of independence and honesty. To me, the “P” of CPA is the most important part of the title. The word “public” suggests  you are not only an expert rendering public service, but also gives a clear signal to society that you are willing to protect investors and other market participants through your professional opinions rendered with the highest integrity. I was very young when I started my career in the accountancy profession. At the age of 22 I qualified as a CA in India, which stands for “chartered accountant” (following the British model). After a couple of years as a staff auditor with Ernst & Whinney (legacy firm of EY) in the Middle East, I came to the United States for my graduate studies at The Ohio State University. During the first year of my Ph.D. program, I became a CPA (September 1988- May 1989); it was a great honor and privilege to be eventually licensed to practice in the state of Ohio.


What are the benefits of students using a review course versus depending on classroom education to help them prepare for the CPA Exam? 

It’s not effective when a student relies on only their college experience to prepare them to successfully sit for the CPA Exam. A review course is very condensed and gives you what you need to know to pass. However, an extended accounting education is supposed to be much more than that: there are specific career skills you only learn in your accounting curriculum. [CPA] review courses offer excellent insight into some very tough questions; they give you an in-depth understanding of complex areas of accounting and help you become a professional in the way you think and analyze problems. They teach you to know what you’re doing while still maintaining speed and accuracy, and this prepares you for the real world more than your college curriculum typically will; the rigor of the CPA Exam is much different from that of your curriculum. Most importantly, the motivations behind your curriculum versus your CPA review course are different. The CPA Review course prepares you to be a professional and succeed on the Exam, which is invaluable for your future, while the college education gives you a solid foundation for life and your career.

You have an experienced CPA Career history, why is it important for students to learn from faculty that have “been there”? 

Faculty that have “been there” bring to the table an interesting combination of theory and practice. In terms of theory, for example, I have a terminal degree—a “term of art used to refer to the Ph.D. in academic circles,” because you can’t go any higher than PhD! When it comes to practice in the accounting profession, I have gone all the way to become a corporate governance partner at Grant Thornton LLP in their National Office in Chicago. This background and experience has given me the best insights and perspectives into theory and practice in the accounting and auditing profession. Faculty that have been able to look at the entire profession, as well as its different facets, from the “mountain top,”—so to speak-- and can explain the interplay of theory and practice across the spectrum to students. This is meaningful to students because we are able to distinguish between what theories work in the practical world and those that appear seductive in textbooks, but may not be practically feasible!

Why do you believe it’s important for accounting students to foster an Accounting Instructor Network? 

Accounting is very broad and complex with a number of specializations. As Accountants students have the opportunity to become specialists in a chosen industry (e.g., financial services; healthcare; oil, gas and energy; the public sector; technology and entertainment, etc.). Accounting professors have different specializations, for example accounting in healthcare is very different from accounting in the oil and energy industry, so knowing different professors will help a young student figure out which area appeals to him/her the most. Most professors will establish a rapport, give references, and then soon become just a business contact for the student. My relationship with students is not transactional, but transformational! It’s not just about the good grades and tests that I give in the classroom. My relationship with every student has the capacity to extend beyond the course; many a time, my relationship with former students began after they had finished taking a course from me.

How did your Accounting Instructor Network help you?
Truly indispensable to my career was the mentoring by some of the finest professors. During my early years in the Ph.D. program in accounting, I was mentored by Professor Andrew Bailey, who, after a distinguished academic career, rose to become Deputy Chief Accountant of the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC). Later, when I joined the University of Illinois accountancy faculty, I was mentored by Dr. Arthur Wyatt, a retired Arthur Andersen & Co. partner, and also a past President of the American Accounting Association (AAA). It may have been my good luck that I was mentored by such great people, but that’s what I believe truly helped me navigate through career. My mentors were very serious about investing time and energy in me. They told me that the only reason they were doing so was so I could pay it forward and do the same for future accounting students. That thought and deep sense of moral obligation to these mentors has driven many of my decisions in my own career.

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