2017 Best 40 Under 40 Professors: Kristina Rennekamp, Cornell University (Johnson)

Kristina Rennekamp

Assistant Professor of Accounting

Cornell University, Johnson Graduate School of Management

To the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and others at the SC Johnson Graduate School of Management, Kristina Rennekamp is known as a triple threat. This is in reference to her off-the-charts performance in three key areas: research, teaching, and service.

Rennekamp’s research spans the role of accounting in the judgments and decisions of managers, investors and analysts. But it’s her work on the readability of mandated disclosures and the use of plain English to make them more informative that has drawn the most attention from scholars, corporate executives, and policymakers.

As a teacher, Rennekamp has stepped up to teach the introductory financial accounting course for the Johnson School’s Executive MBA program. “This is a remarkable feat for a young faculty member and she has succeeded well,” says the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Andrew Karolyi. It is rare in the history of EMBA programs that a newly hired faculty member does so well and so quickly in this tough teaching assignment.”

In service to her field, this professor serves on the editorial board and is an ad hoc reviewer for nearly two dozen academic publications in her field.

Age: 36

At current institution since: 2014

Education: PhD in Accounting, Cornell University, 2012

List of courses you currently teach: Introductory Financial Accounting course in our NYC Tech MBA and EMBA of the Americas programs

What are you currently researching and what is the most significant discovery you’ve made from it? I’m currently working on research to help improve analysts’ and auditors’ ability to detect management deception. We are finding that individuals are better at detecting deception when they tap into their non-conscious processing of information, rather than only focusing on conscious deliberation.

Professor you most admire: Robert (Bob) Libby. He has been unbelievably supportive of me over the years. Bob makes time for everyone around him, and is a great mentor and friend.

“I knew I wanted to be a B-school professor when…my mother taught Marketing and New Product Development classes to Executive MBAs at the University of Iowa while she was the VP of Marketing for Amana. Because of that I was on campus a lot, visiting classes and interacting with other business school professors about their work. I saw how much they enjoyed their jobs, and realized it could be a great option for me as well.”

“If I weren’t a B-school professor…I would probably still be a financial analyst for the Department of the Interior in Washington, DC. There are a lot of interesting financial reporting issues to deal with when it comes to the National Parks system and other environmental resources!”

One word that describes my first time teaching an MBA class: Exhilarating

Most memorable moment in the classroom, or in general, as a professor: I still get chills every time I put on the academic regalia and go to graduation. It’s an amazing feeling to look at all of the smiling faces of our students and to know that they are about to go out into the world and do great things.

What professional achievement are you most proud of? Being successful enough early on in my career that I was hired back by Cornell (after being here for my PhD). I love Ithaca, and never dreamed that my husband and I would get the chance to return and raise our daughters here.

What do you enjoy most about being a business school professor? A lot of people really dread their accounting course. The thing I enjoy most is when I can find a way to connect with each student and show them how accounting might be applicable (and even enjoyable!) to them based on their interests and career goals.   

What do you enjoy least about being a business school professor? Anything and everything associated with grading. It is especially frustrating when a student has worked really hard but their letter grade doesn’t necessarily reflect it.

What is your favorite company and why? I really admire Wegmans for being financially successful while treating their employees very, very well.

Fun fact about yourself: My family and I are working on section-hiking the 584-mile Finger Lakes Trail in New York.

Bucket list item #1: To race a classic car (or three) on the Nürburgring  

Favorite book: A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again, by David Foster Wallace

Favorite movie: Dr. Strangelove

Favorite type of music: I like a lot of music, but I always listen to Bob Dylan while I’m analyzing data

Favorite television show: Last Week Tonight

Favorite vacation spot: Kapolei and Paia, Hawaii

What are your hobbies? Cooking with my daughters, hiking, and traveling with family

Twitter handle: I still haven’t jumped on the Twitter bandwagon

“If I had my way, the business school of the future would …incorporate more disciplines into the curriculum and include even more experiential learning. There are so many positives to students having a chance to expand their horizons.”


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