2023 Best 40-Under-40 MBA Professors: Albert Kwame Mensah, HEC Paris

Congrats to Albert Kwame Mensah of HEC Paris for being named a 2023 Best 40-Under-40 MBA Professor.

Albert Kwame Mensah 

HEC Paris

“Professor Mensah draws from his own academic research, which incorporates theoretical concepts, as well as his past professional experience to provide students with a rich explanation and illustration of concepts. He utilizes his experience in entrepreneurial projects across a wide range of industries such as agriculture, consumer electronics and EdTech, to show students how he applies the principles taught in class in preparing the accounts of his Ghanaian business entities. He also incorporates his consultancy experience, sharing with his students how he helps companies separate “good” from “bad” accounting experts.” Kristine De Valck, Dean of Programs and Interim Dean of MBA 

Albert Kwame Mensah, 35, is an assistant professor of accounting at HEC Paris. 

In his research, he investigates how firms’ mandatory reporting and/or disclosure policies affect the decision-making behavior of capital market participants. He also studies how anti-corruption laws that seek to limit the influence of money in politics affect the behavior of firms and politicians, how capital market participants are making use of alternative sources of financial data, and how activist short sellers are shaping capital markets. 

He has almost two decades of experience in financial and managerial accounting, both in the classroom and in the industry. He sits on the board of Aloes Tree EdTech Ltd. and is the founder and managing director of a Ghanaian tech-based startup, GSGBS Co. Ltd. 


At current institution since what year? 2019


  • City University of Hong Kong (Ph.D. in Accounting)
  • Xiamen University (Master of Management Science in Accounting)
  • University of Cape Coast (Bachelor of Commerce in Accounting & Finance) 
  • Institute of Chartered Accountants –Ghana (Certified Public Accountant)

List of MBA courses you currently teach: Financial Accounting & Reporting


I knew I wanted to be a business school professor when… I consistently excelled throughout my business studies. I was a top business student at all levels of education: high school, undergraduate and postgraduate. At high school, I received the awards of Overall Best Accounting Student and Overall Best Business School student (56th Speech and Prize-Giving Day, Mawuli High School, 2006). At my undergraduate studies, I received 3 awards for emerging as the Overall Best Graduating Accounting Student at 2011 Congregation of the University of Cape Coast (The year before graduation, I sat atop the Dean’s List of the business school, where across all departments, I had shared the highest GPA with another). At my postgraduate studies at the City University of Hong Kong, I had received the Outstanding Academic Performance Award (issued by the School of Graduate Studies, 2017), as well as the Ph.D. Student Teaching Excellence Award (issued by the College of Business, 2017).

What are you currently researching and what is the most significant discovery you’ve made from it? On the back of the recent interest in the influence of activist short sellers in capital markets (see, e.g., extensive media coverage of banks’ exposure to the Adani Group’s alleged fraud), I, together with my coauthors (Jeong-Bon Kim [City University of Hong Kong) and Luc Paugam and Herve Stolowy, fellow colleagues here at HEC Paris), have been studying the role of activist short sellers in the syndicated lending market. Activist short sellers, who tend to be hedge funds or individuals, often take short positions in a company’s stock prior to publishing research reports that claim the target firm is overvalued (their reports frequently allege accounting issues and fraud). 

In my current study, we aim to provide large-sample systematic evidence to the question of whether and how stakeholders (such as traditional banks) with better access to firm-specific information learn from activist short-seller reports. Based on a sample of 2,426 US public firms spanning 2008 and 2018, we document interesting findings. As far as existing loans are concerned, we find no likelihood that existing loan agreements are renegotiated following allegations by activist short sellers (in fact, our tests seem to suggest that banks were likely already aware of some, if not all, of the issues alleged by activist short sellers). As regards new loans, we however find the banks seem to modestly reflect incremental lending risk stemming from activist short seller allegations in loan pricing. Specifically, the effect of a 10 percent increase in the cost of debt following activist short seller allegations is modest if compared to the popularly documented evidence of a 50 percent plus increase in cost of debt following SEC-related misreporting allegations. Overall, our evidence of banks not renegotiating existing loans, but only modestly pricing activist short-seller allegations (in subsequent, new loan agreements) suggests that banks do not severely punish firms with activist short-seller allegations (this is perhaps so because banks are stakeholders with better access to firm-specific information and as such may already be aware of some, if not all, of the issues alleged by activist short sellers).

If I weren’t a business school professor… I would most likely be an engineer or perhaps even a visual artist. Growing up (around ages 8-13), I would manually build cars and helicopters, making use of tin- and can-based scraps. I was also good at drawing and sketching. These were great interests of mine at the time, so many who knew me then are today surprised at my pursuit of business education. While I have not pursued any of the above interests anywhere in all formal levels of education, I take consolation in the fact that, at least, some of the entrepreneurial activities I am currently undertaking—3D printer assembly/servicing and STEM—allow me to somewhat pursue some of my earlier-found engineering and visual art interests. 

What do you think makes you stand out as a professor? My deep technical knowledge (of the field) and consistent record of excellence (when I was a student of the field myself), coupled with my past and current professional experience. 

One word that describes my first time teaching: Adventurous

Here’s what I wish someone would’ve told me about being a business school professor: That, when it comes to how to teach, there are significant heterogeneities across jurisdictions and across students from the same jurisdiction. I had found out the hard way that teaching in South-Eastern Asia is particularly very different from teaching in Europe. Thus, an awareness of whether and how students voluntarily participate in class discussions in a particular jurisdiction is important in informing a teacher about whether and what super-incentive schemes are required to bolster class participation while sustaining students’ interest on a course.

Professor I most admire and why: Throughout my academic career journey, I have interacted with and (knowingly or unknowingly) picked up a lot from several senior colleagues. These acquired positives are unlimited, but a few that come to mind are: generating novel, interesting and relevant research ideas; effectively testing research predictions via using robust research methods; effectively critiquing a paper; effectively organizing lesson plans; effectively sustaining students’ interest on a course; adopting effective teaching tools and methods; et cetera. 


What do you enjoy most about teaching business students? The ability to, in the classroom, exchange ideas with MBA students (professionals) about what they do at their places of work versus how these relate to issues addressed at course sessions. This is of course very different from teaching undergraduate students, who tend to lack professional work experience.

What is most challenging? Teaching a technical course such as financial accounting/reporting to MBAs requires balancing the competing needs of heterogeneous student groups. There is never an easy, straightforward way of doing this. When introducing, over several weeks, basic accounting concepts and principles to an MBA cohort that is dominated by participants without prior accounting experience (e.g., engineers, pilots, medical workers, marketers, social workers, etc.), one has to find a way to keep the minority (i.e., professional accountants, auditors, and those with advanced knowledge of accounting) still interested in the course. 

In a word, describe your favorite type of student: hard-working

In a word, describe your least favorite type of student: Social loafing

When it comes to grading, I think students would describe me as… Objective


What are your hobbies? Tennis, road trips, and very recently, skiing.

How will you spend your summer? I will be going on a road trip. One, in particular, would take me to a place where I would be boarding one of 450+ hot-air balloons that would go up all at once. This would be at an annual hot air balloon event that brings together pilots, passengers, and spectators from across all parts of the world. 

Favorite place(s) to vacation: Ski resorts 

Favorite book(s): Owing to my unique background, where I was (during my childhood days) brought up in a rural, mostly Christian district in Ghana that, at the time, neither provided ample opportunities nor instituted the culture of reading non-academic books, I have not really cultivated reading as an interest or hobby. Thus, the only book that I have read the most beyond academic books is the Bible. The Bible has been particularly important in teaching me virtues, which have helped shape who I am today. These virtues were undoubtedly significant to my upbringing, given that I was born out of wedlock and was therefore raised single-handedly by my maternal grandmother, who did not have much.

What is currently your favorite movie and/or show and what is it about the film or program that you enjoy so much? Marvel’s Avengers. I gotta say that I just love movies with superheroes. The whole thing about protagonists saving the day (despite fierce opposition from antagonists) just sits well with me. 

What is your favorite type of music or artist(s) and why? I am a big fan of Christian music. It is uplifting to the soul, especially in difficult times when one needs all the encouragement one can get. I also love classical music: it is soothing.


If I had my way, the business school of the future would have much more of this… Certain popular concepts taught in business schools should not be necessarily promoted as “universal,” but should be adapted to the specific needs of each jurisdiction. I find that some recommended solutions, tools or ideas advanced in business schools that may work in developed nations may not necessarily work in some developing nations. For instance, the common concept that business entities automatically collect indirect taxes (such as VAT and sales taxes) on behalf of the government and then later refund it to the government may not work in many developing countries in particular. This is because the high incidence of inter-entity and inter-citizen corruption, coupled with potential collusion between business entities (citizens) and public officials, introduces significant frictions that lead to leakages in government coffers. 

I would therefore like to see business schools rise to the challenge in the future in using or increasing their existing research infrastructure in studying the needs of specific countries or regions in order to allow them to more effectively develop custom-tailored solutions or tools for such jurisdictions. 

In my opinion, companies and organizations today need to do a better job at…utilizing existing academic research insights and findings to help them address problems at their outfits. Several business schools have dedicated research budgets to investing in interesting and relevant economic phenomena, but it appears there is not much use of these research findings by corporates. Perhaps the problem lies in companies’ lack of awareness of such researches because they are not well informed about publication outlets where these researches are published. It would therefore serve organizations well to more closely align themselves with business schools. Such close ties could for instance lead to companies specifically requesting research assistance from or research collaboration with business schools in investigating specific problems or issues that these companies are currently facing. I find that, at least when it comes to seeking research assistance or collaboration, business school researchers tend to approach corporates more often than such corporates approach business schools.

I’m grateful for…the opportunity to teach on the MBA and to conduct research at one of the world’s leading business schools. This was made possible by the many who have played such important roles in my journey thus far.  From my childhood days, through to my academic studies and then to my present time here at HEC, I want to say a big “thank you” to my family, friends, mentors, senior colleagues and sponsors for their respective roles and support. 



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