PwC Center for Innovation in Professional Services
Fostering collaborative partnerships with academics from other accounting programs, CIPS continues to create new research opportunities. The Center also funds faculty scholarship that delves into trending topics in accountancy.
McIntire Professor Eric Negangard believes that technology is essential to the future of the accounting profession.
A licensed Certified Public Accountant and Certified Fraud Examiner, he has been instrumental in shaping the PwC Center for Innovation in Professional Services’ (CIPS) programming. With seven years in the Forensic practice at KPMG, where he took part in large SEC investigations, investigated potential Foreign Corrupt Practices Act violations, and performed anti-money laundering tasks, Negangard has deep experience as a practitioner that has directly informed his work with the Center.
As such, he offers students, industry partners, and his faculty colleagues the insights he has gained during his career—insights that have served to inform his research, CIPS events, and the work he does in the classroom carrying out the Center’s mission to disseminate professional services information and share best practices.
Negangard insists that CIPS has been a crucial supporter of his research, assisting his exploration of interests in accountancy innovation, technology, and fraud-related areas, while also helping to foster new areas of scholarly interest among his colleagues, and facilitating important links between faculty and industry.
“Whether I need participants for an experiment or interviewees for a qualitative study, the Center is the first place I go for connections. I genuinely value the lifelong relationships I have built through my interactions with the Center. The fact that none of these folks has ever said no to anything I’ve asked says a lot about CIPS and the people involved with it,” he says, acknowledging CIPS Director, Professor Craig Lefanowicz, for his leadership and as “an outstanding steward of the Center” who remains “open to new ideas” while “encouraging everyone here at McIntire to be involved.”
That Schoolwide community participation includes CIPS supporting Negangard and his fellow Accounting faculty members to promote scholarship at McIntire. For example, he credits the Center for allowing him and his colleagues to hone their expertise in qualitative accounting to publish articles on the subject in the Contemporary Accounting Research journal, and to fund a research seminar on the subject, which he produced with Professor Jennifer Winchel.
“We ended up hosting more than 30 accounting scholars from around the Mid-Atlantic region,” he says, noting the success of an event that featured world-renowned qualitative researcher Yves Gendron. The positive results have led to plans for an even bigger version of the seminar at a future date.
While Negangard has taken part in many other rewarding CIPS-sponsored programs, he says standouts featured engaging talks on ethics and morality by former fraudster CFOs at HealthSouth, Weston Smith and Aaron Beam; a cyber threat simulation run by PwC cybersecurity experts who hosted an interactive "Game of Threats"; and Professor Roger Martin presenting an audit update on tech advancements and regulation impacting the profession.
“Across all of these programs, the most rewarding aspect has been the ability to connect students and our faculty with real-world events,” he says. “Each has allowed for hands-on learning and knowledge sharing across the various types of professional services in accounting.”
CIPS supports knowledge sharing at the curriculum level, too. Negangard’s courses, Introduction to Auditing in McIntire’s undergraduate program and M.S. in Accounting’s Accounting Analytics and Fraud, are exemplary in advancing the Center’s goals with students. The former class focuses on protecting investor confidence through auditing, and the increasing gravity of understanding and sharing accounting knowledge with stakeholders as organizations and their associated markets increase in size and complexity. In the latter course, students are taught cutting-edge methods to apply technology and digital tools to analyze data for the detection, prevention, and response to fraud and misconduct.
“As fraud—particularly perpetrated via electronic means—continues to increase in occurrence and scale, our students must be aware of the various types of fraud and ways to combat it,” he says. “Consistent with the mission of the Center, both classes help students find the excitement and meaning that comes from careers in accounting and other professional services roles, and my courses help students bridge the gap between what they learn here at McIntire and what they will do during their careers, particularly regarding the use of technology.”
Because CIPS maintains close ties with all Big Four accounting firms and leading professional service organizations, Negangard and his Accounting faculty colleagues are able to routinely invite working professionals into the classroom as guest speakers and case study participants. He says that CIPS serves as a conduit that keeps him connected to these invaluable industry experts, and he looks forward to continuing to utilize the Center to elevate the skills of future accountants who graduate from the Commerce School.
“Digital acumen and data literacy are so important for accounting students,” he says. “While we have increased our ability here at McIntire to use technology to teach our students, we can do more to teach our students technology and the valuable skills they need to succeed in today's digital world. The Center is a tremendous resource and mechanism for doing so.”