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Meet the New Business Faculty

Head shots of the new 2015 business faculty

Each academic year, a crop of eager, anxious new faces arrives at the McCombs School of Business — and we're not talking about students.

As the fall 2015 semester begins, here's your opportunity to meet the latest additions to our business faculty, a group of professors who bring their expertise in a wide variety of research areas. 

Accounting 

Brady Williams, assistant professor

Brady Williams, assistant professor, teaching Introduction to Taxation (ACC 355) in the spring  

What attracted you to the position at McCombs?

On my visit to McCombs in late February, while doing my Ph.D. at the University of Washington, I got the sense that each member of the faculty had some area of expertise, but they were also deep generalists who were willing to learn, ask questions, and give suggestions on a variety of research. They also seemed to be able to think very critically about ideas without being critical as individuals. This was an environment where I wanted to be.

I also am excited to be at a university with so much tradition and spirit.

How would you explain your area of research? 

I study the way that taxes distort or change business decisions and the consequences of those tax-induced distortions.

Brady Williams, assistant professor, accounting

How do you enjoy spending your free time? 

My wife, Becky, and I have four kids under eight. Generally, we just like being outdoors. What we do outdoors depends on where we live, but hiking has been a common thread everywhere we've been. I grew up hiking mostly in Eastern Utah/Western Colorado where we did a lot of "peak bagging." Without big mountains, hiking around Austin will be definitely be different, but I've got kids in tow now so it should be a good change.


Eric Chan, assistant professorEric Chan, assistant professor, teaching Fundamentals of Managerial Accounting (ACC 312H) in the fall

What attracted you to the position at McCombs?

The Accounting Department is world-renowned for its excellence in research and teaching from the undergraduate to the graduate level. McCombs provides me with the opportunity to work with some of brightest minds in the field. The resources at McCombs are unparalleled and the research environment is dynamic and supportive. I also look forward to the opportunity to teach and influence the highly motivated students who will become the next generation of business leaders. To top it all off, Austin is a vibrant city with great food, music, and arts.

How would you explain your area of research? 

My research is in the area of managerial accounting and focuses on how employers design management control systems to influence worker behavior. I am interested in understanding why controls often fail to motivate workers to take organizationally desirable actions with the goal of helping firms design more effective controls. Using experiments and relying on economic and psychological theory, I explore how human factors such as their cognitive biases and social preferences could affect how workers respond to different control mechanisms. For example, one of my research Eric Chan, assistant professorstudies finds that providing workers with information about how well they are performing relative to their peers could negatively affect the employers' promotion decisions because of workers’ fairness concerns.

How do you enjoy spending your free time?

I enjoy spending time with my family and recently became a father. I also enjoying playing the guitar — all types of music from rock to church hymns — watching sports, painting, and golfing.



Finance

Inessa Liskovich, assistant professor

Inessa Liskovich, assistant professor, teaching Investment Management (FIN 367) in the fall

What attracted you to the position at McCombs?

I was attracted to the position at McCombs because of the opportunity to join such a reputable and highly ranked business school, but my colleagues are the most appealing thing about the position. The other members of the Finance Department are extremely creative and knowledgeable in our field, and welcoming as well. I am excited to start working alongside them. 

How would you explain your area of research? 

My research uses data to answer empirical questions in finance. I focus on the effects that investors have on a firm's policies and stock prices, as well as generally studying how firms interact with shareholders, employees, and regulators. This includes questions such as how greater shareholder power affects employees, and how regulators respond to more socially responsible firms. Liskovich overlooks a valley in Cusco, Peru

How do you enjoy spending your free time?

I enjoy traveling, hiking, and exploring the music scene in Austin — I'm most excited to see folk, indie rock, and electronic music. I've recently gone hiking in Yosemite National Park and the Cascades and visited Peru. My upcoming trip is to Zion National Park. 

 


 

Michael Sockin, assistant professorMichael Sockin, assistant professor, teaching Investment Management (FIN 367) in the spring

What attracted you to the position at McCombs?

I am excited to have the opportunity to work alongside the amazing faculty in our Finance Department and to experience life in Austin. I feel that the culture at McCombs values the development of its junior faculty, and I look forward to learning from the world-renowned researchers that make McCombs a highly reputable and top-ranked business school.

How would you explain your area of research?

My research focuses on the consequences for real activity when firms and households — in addition to financial market participants — learn from prices when making their consumption and investment decisions. In the presence of informational frictions, financial markets serve as platforms to aggregate the private information of individual investors, and prices serve as useful signals about the underlying strength of the real economy. In addition, I am also interested in exploring the policy implications of the intersection between finance and public finance. Given that governments have become more active in financial markets in recent years, I believe there are important policy questions about what distortions this involvement mitigates and introduces.

How do you enjoy spending your free time?

I enjoy playing soccer and tennis, as well as biking and following the English Premier League during league play. I am a huge fan of coffee and am constantly looking out for new coffeehouses to frequent and unique roasts to try.


Management

PuayKhoon "PK" Toh, associate professor

PuayKhoon Toh, associate professor, teaching Strategic Management (B A 388T) in the fall

What attracted you to the position at McCombs?

I am drawn to the Management Department at McCombs because of its rare combination of depth and diversity in research expertise. The field of management is by nature a broad one, with many complex issues ranging from how to manage people to how to set strategic directions for the firm. This broadness necessitates the collection of experts with in-depth knowledge of each individual issue. McCombs has the unique position to provide both depth and breadth. I think McCombs can give me the needed room to grow as a researcher.

How would you explain your area of research? 

I mainly study technology strategies, meaning how a firm creates new technologies that are useful and valuable, and how it extracts and converts these technologies' value into profits. These issues are far from straightforward. Often, it is not easy for a firm to create technologies that work well. Even when a firm does manage to create valuable technologies, it is not able to keep all of that value for itself because of competitive pressures. I believe that to resolve these difficult issues, we need to look closely at how firms organize their research and development — especially the coordination of research activities across different areas and inventors within the firm — and also how firms manage relationships with their competitors and environments.

How do you enjoy spending your free time?

PuayKhoon "PK" Toh, associate professorWhen I do have free time (which is unfortunately not that often), I work out at the gym to keep fit. This is especially helpful given that I am also a "foodie," meaning I eat a lot, especially when the food is good. I like to try out different cuisines at various restaurants. So in that sense, living in Austin with its very vibrant restaurant scene really works for me. I was also a classically trained pianist quite a while ago. These days, I try to find time to play the piano (very casually by this point) at home.



Marketing  

Taylor Bentley, assistant professor

Taylor Bentley, assistant professor, teaching Marketing Information and Analysis (MKT 460) in the spring

What attracted you to the position at McCombs?

The biggest draw was the quality of the faculty. They are the top marketing minds in the world, and the opportunity to collaborate with these colleagues was very appealing. The Marketing Department also makes a concerted effort to give new faculty every opportunity to succeed as both a researcher and a teacher. It is difficult to imagine a better situation from which to begin my career as a professor.

How would you explain your area of research? 

I am an economic modeler. I build models of consumer behavior and then calibrate these models with Taylor Bentley snowboarding with his brothersdata from companies. With these models, as marketers we can better understand the underlying marketplace mechanisms impacting consumer choices and firms' strategic choices. Currently, I'm focused on digital marketing.

How do you enjoy spending your free time?

I love to spend time with my wife and two dogs, a Black Lab and an Old English sheepdog. I am an avid sports fan and love to play soccer. I also love to read (my favorite genre is historical nonfiction), watch movies, and get out into nature — hiking, walking with my dogs, and snowshoeing. 


Douglas Hannah, assistant professorDouglas Hannah, assistant professor, teaching General
Management and Strategy (MAN 374) in the spring

What attracted you to the position at McCombs? 

McCombs is a top-tier research institution and has the resources and community that goes with that. But while the academic caliber of the faculty and students here can't be beat, I was most struck by how open and collegial everyone was. There is a real sense that McCombs is more than a place of employment: It's a home and a family.

How would you explain your area of research? 

I study how entrepreneurs compete in new and emerging industries like 3D printing, genetic testing, and solar electricity. How do they determine Douglas Hannah taking a photo of Notre-Dame Cathedralwhat products to make? How do they manage uncertainty, find their place, and discern the good opportunities from the bad? Why do some entrepreneurs succeed while others fail? 

How do you enjoy spending your free time?

I'm passionate about getting outside and exploring the world: anything from travel abroad to hiking, biking, and canoeing here in Austin. I take St. Augustine's quote to heart: "The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page." I also play competitive Ultimate Frisbee and am looking forward to joining that community here.


Adrian Ward, assistant professorAdrian Ward, assistant professor, teaching a new course (tentatively titled "Consumer Behavior in a Digital World") in the spring 

What attracted you to the position at McCombs?

As an academic, I care about both research and teaching — and McCombs excels in both areas. One thing that truly sets McCombs apart from other elite schools is that this excellence is coupled with warmth: The faculty truly care about their research, their students, their colleagues, and their world.  

Idiosyncratically, I love the culture that pervades McCombs — a culture that is inherently tied to the city of Austin. I'm originally from South Carolina, and I love the South, but I readily admit that it isn't perfect. Austin may not be perfect either (no place is), but the progressive, accepting, and "weird" culture of the city promises the things I love about the South, without many of the things I'm more than happy to leave behind.

How do you explain your area of research? 

Broadly, my research focuses on how we can be better people — both in terms of how we treat others and how we treat ourselves. My work on "paying it forward" examines how a single positive (or negative) interaction can create a chain reaction of positivity (or negativity) that spreads through social networks. My work on financial decision-making explores how we can help people successfully navigate the financial domain — send their kids to college, retire comfortably, and generally have a sense of control over their finances (rather than vice versa). My work on technology and cognition investigates how "new" technologies interact with "old" cognitive systems to alter how we think about and remember information, as well as how we connect to and interact with the world around us. In each of these areas, people often act sub-optimally. My hope is that my research can help uncover why people do the things the do, as well as how they might be able to do things better. 

Ward snaps photos during a BBQ adventure in Lockhart, TXHow do you enjoy spending your free time?

Too many passions, too little time! I enjoy music, and played in regionally touring bands during my teens and early 20s. I play too many sports to claim that I play any of them particularly well, but my high school soccer team was ranked No. 1 in the nation many years ago (I mostly sat on the bench). I love communicating scientific ideas to a widespread audience, and have written several articles for Scientific American (including the most-read article of 2012 on their website). I also spend a lot of time with my dog, Henry.

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