Prof. Dr. Hui Chen joined the University of Zurich in 2014 as an assistant professor of financial accounting (tenure track) at the Department of Business Administration. Her research primarily addresses the economic effects of accounting regulations and practices. Before coming to Zurich, Prof. Chen was an assistant professor of accounting at the University of Colorado. She earned her doctorate from the University of Tennessee.
Short interview with Prof. Dr. Hui Chen
What influenced your career decisions?
I always wanted to be a professor, from a young age. The idea of academic freedom is very appealing to me. Imagine that nobody can tell you what topics to work on, and you can let your own curiosity and passion guide your choice. Not too many jobs can brag about this level of independence and autonomy. I also love the unique working environment of universities and colleges. I’m constantly surrounded by smart people. My job is to explore and learn new things, and then share the findings with my colleagues and students. This is priceless.
What achievement in your life are you particularly proud of?
Looking back, I’m proud that I persisted through the first few years after the PhD program. Life is not easy when you are an early-career academic: working on multiple research projects; getting over journal rejections; preparing for new classes; learning to get comfortable in front of students; and generally struggling with too many balls in the air. There never seemed to be enough time. What made it extra challenging was doing all of these while raising a young child in a dual career family. I definitely would give myself a pat on the back for having managed it.
Where do you get inspiration from for your work?
I get a lot of inspiration from good works done by others, both from my own field and other fields that are sometimes not even related to mine. There are research works that are just so creative and mind-opening, they push forward the frontier of knowledge and change the way we look at things. It motivates me to think that I may be doing something similar, even though at a more moderate level.
According to your opinion, what will distinguish our Faculty in five years' time?
The ultimate responsibility of a business school is to produce two things: future leaders of the business world, through teaching; new knowledge for the society and economy, through research. From what I can see, our Faculty is doing a great job on both fronts. We have great students and faculty members, and a lot of support from the community. As long as we keep our commitment to excellence in teaching and research, we will be able to reach and surpass any goals we set for ourselves.
Why would you recommend studying at our Faculty to young women holding their Matura (Swiss university entry qualification)?
Having taught many of you, I know that you’re typically young, smart, and ambitious, perhaps sometimes also a little lost and anxious about the future. There are many choices for young women today—it can be liberating and intimidating at the same time. When you face choices, my advice is to take the one that gives the highest future return (not just in monetary terms), even when it looks risky. You live in the safest country in the world, chances are that you are pretty safe even after taking some risk. When two choices seem to have similar returns and you feel unsure, take the one that will give you more options down the road. And most important of all, always remember to have fun and enjoy the process.