2016 Best 40 Under 40 Professors: Allison Koester, McDonough School of Business

Allison Koester Georgetown

Allison Koester

Assistant Professor of Accounting

Georgetown University, McDonough School of Business

To merely say Allison Koester is a “favorite” among students would be a severe understatement. One semester in her classroom and they are literally transformed. Students from one class said they went from assuming they’d dislike accounting to the course being one of their favorites. Koester’s ability to connect with and impact MBAs is undeniable. Last year she received evaluation scores of 4.93 out of 5 and 21% of MBA students listed her as a faculty or staff member who has had a positive impact on their McDonough experience.

In 2014, she received the school’s Ronald L. Smith Distinguished Service Award, an honor given to a single faculty or staff member from the graduating MBA class for going above and beyond to support student academic and professional success. And, as part of a fundraiser for the Student Impact Internship Fund, one student actually paid $500 just to enjoy a private brunch with Koester.

To graduate from Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business, all MBAs are required to take financial accounting with Koester. However, because she knows that the vast majority of them are not seeking accounting positions after graduation, she has helped more than a dozen students gain entrepreneurship experience through associateships with her husband’s start-up ventures.

In her academic research, Koester is an expert on corporate taxation and financial reporting. She has published articles in scholarly journals such as Management Science and the Journal of the American Taxation Association and she’s been invited to present her research at more than 35 academic institutions and conferences. Before entering academia, Dr. Koester was a senior tax associate at KPMG’s Washington National Tax office.

Age: 33

At current institution since: 2011

Education: Ph.D. in Business Administration, Accounting, University of Washington, 2011

Courses you currently teach: Analysis and Reporting of Financial Information

Professor you most admire: My thesis advisor Terry Shevlin. He is able to successfully work on dozens of research projects with co-authors from around the world, advise numerous Ph.D. students each year, and serve in leadership roles at both his university and within our national professional organization. He’s also a guy who’s great to grab a beer with. I hope I’m a fraction as successful in my career as he has been in his.

“I knew I wanted to be a b-school professor when…I discovered my passion for research and teaching. I started my career as a tax accountant. During a rotation at KPMG’s National Tax Office, I began doing less client advising and more technical research and in-house trainings. When it was time to rotate back to my operating office, I didn’t want to leave the research and teaching behind. I decided to find a profession where I could research and teach 100% of the time. Academia is a perfect fit.”

“If I weren’t a b-school professor…I would work at a D.C. policy think tank. I guess that isn’t that different from a lot of my work as a b-school professor. I really like researching and teaching!”

Most memorable moment in the classroom or in general as a professor: My students are always doing funny and endearing things. One year on the last day of class, a male student dressed up as me – complete with a long brown-haired wig, his wife’s clothes, and size 12 high heeled shoes. He gave a “tribute performance” at the end of class, complete with phrases I am apparently known for saying.

Another year I sang a little jingle to help students remember how to calculate cost of goods sold from inventory and purchases information, and one student turned it into a techno song (which was shared with all 260 MBA students). I think the techno version was catchier than my version.

What professional achievement are you most proud of? Surviving a Ph.D. program. There were definitely days when I wasn’t sure what I was doing or if I was going to make it. Big props to my husband Eric for figuratively talking me off the ledge more than once.

What do you enjoy most about being a business school professor? The creative freedom I have in both the classroom and in my research. I treasure having a job that allows me to carefully think about the best way to illustrate a concept to my students or how to design an empirical test for a research paper, implement my ideas, and improve through student and colleague feedback. I can’t imagine a more rewarding profession.

What do you enjoy least about being a business school professor? Publishing research articles can take a very long time. There are so many interesting things to investigate, and only so much time.

Fun fact about yourself: I’ve run at least 5 miles in 26 different countries.

Favorite book: I’m always looking to improve, so I love research-based self-improvement books. Right now I’m re-reading “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg. I also like “Happy Money: The Science of Happier Spending” by Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton.

Favorite movie: I’m going old school with this one: Wedding Crashers

Favorite type of music: It’s a tie between classical and pop

Favorite television show: The Walking Dead. Oh that Ricky Grimes.

Favorite vacation spot: We’ve been on an Asia kick in recent years – Burma, Hong Kong, Bali, India. Now that we tote a toddler along with us (and have another child arriving this summer), we’ve been picking places with smaller time zone differences. We spent this past Christmas in Argentina.

What are your hobbies? When I’m not researching or teaching, I’m spending time with my daughter and husband, walking my dogs, and practicing yoga.

Twitter handle: No tweeting here.

“If I had my way, the business school of the future would have…clearer non-business paths post-graduation. The critical thinking and analysis skills one learns in a MBA program can benefit people of all professions, not just those interested in a business career. Learning how to set and measure strategic goals, thoughtfully interpret data, and successfully communicate with others would benefit all humans.”

Students say

“Professor Koester is the professor that you imagine when you are applying to a top business school. She is passionate about the subject and also the education of students. Her class preparation and ability to simplify ideas for students that are new to accounting is admirable. In my opinion, she is a world-class professor that stewards her profession.”

“Professor Koester did a fantastic job teaching the material! She consistently engaged her audience so that they could provide opinions and responses to the material being learned. Her passionate desire for students to fully understand the material is evident by her preparation for class. She consistently provided students with valuable, real-world examples of accounting issues that related to the accounting topics covered during the course, making the class a lot more insightful and relevant.”

“Professor Koester is fantastic. Her enthusiasm for the subject matter is palpable and transforms a subject many expect to be dry and uninteresting to a truly enjoyable and stimulating course. Her preparation for class time and commitment to providing a very high-quality learning environment for her students also is very evident.”

“I’ve never really enjoyed accounting before, but I can honestly say this was my favorite class this semester. Professor Koester has a way to help all students understand by being able to explain the material frontwards, backwards, and sideways.”

“Professor Koester brought so much energy and excitement to the class, which was much appreciated. She also worked hard to help us understand how this could be useful to our lives past grad school.”

“I love her passion, and she can always explain complex issues in a simple way, which is very helpful for students without an accounting background like me.”


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