Tucked away in a corner of the McColl Building, you’ll find Jana Raedy’s office.
It’s a typical faculty office, with a packed bookcase and every surface covered by papers and photos of her two young sons.
What stands out are the Carolina-blue rocking chairs and always-full candy dish. They epitomize Raedy’s welcoming approach to students and colleagues who stop by to talk about classes, careers and, of course, accounting.
Raedy is passionate about accounting – the language of business, as she is quick to point out – as well as developing leaders. She is in the perfect position to pursue those passions as associate dean of the Master of Accounting (MAC) Program, the Ernst & Young Scholar in Accounting and associate professor of accounting at UNC Kenan-Flagler.
She has led the MAC Program since 2011. Now she is making sure that more students have access to the top-ranked program with the launch of an online format in June. “It’s a new path to help talented students prepare for dynamic careers,” she said.
And it’s not just for business majors – the MAC Program welcomes liberal arts graduates, too. “They thrive in the program and the profession, which offers diverse career paths where human capital is the currency,” Raedy said.
“Our MAC graduates will never be mistaken for bean counters,” said Raedy. “While accounting is quantitative, our students go far beyond that and firms value our graduates’ intellectual horsepower, technical knowledge and skills in decision making, leadership, critical thinking and communication. They have been clamoring for more of our graduates and the online MAC format will help meet that demand.”
“Jana has been visionary in leading the MAC Program and designing the online format,” said Doug Shackelford, dean and Meade H. Willis Distinguished Professor of Taxation. “She views the purpose of the MAC Program as developing future partners of accounting firms and C-suite executives of corporations. And because of that mission, she overhauled the curriculum to include leadership, team building and communication – areas that aren’t found in many programs that are narrowly focused on producing entry-level accountants.”
“In all of her roles – teacher, researcher and program leader – Jana is never content with the ‘same as last year’ and is always pushing for improvement,” he said.
Raedy manifested that drive early in life. A “farm girl from Ohio,” she was a first-generation college student who earned two degrees in agricultural economics, a BS in accounting and minored in music. She began teaching while she was still a college student.
“I loved it from the get go,” said Raedy, who also taught while earning her master’s degree. She then went into public accounting, where she taught continuing professional education before she earned her PhD from Penn State and joined the UNC Kenan-Flagler faculty.
Today, Raedy has written the book on accounting – literally. She is the author of the textbook Intermediate Accounting. “I wanted to create something that, while conveying all of the technical details, brought the conceptual framework – and with it critical thinking and judgment skills – into the classroom,” she said.
Raedy teaches classes in financial reporting, international financial reporting and financial research. She’s also taught a fraud course, which she looks forward to teaching again.
She researches the role of regulation and specializes in technical financial reporting issues, and she has particular expertise in international accounting and accounting for income taxes. Since her research addresses issues that are foundational to the MAC Program, it overlaps closely with her teaching.
Her deep understanding of the profession inform also informs her teaching and the MAC curriculum – ensuring that students get the latest material and master both accounting knowledge and the skills required to practice it.
Raedy’s strong relationships with the top accounting firms bridge from the classroom to launching students’ careers.
“Few accounting faculty are as deeply connected or respected by the accounting firms as Jana,” said Shackelford. “Because she knows the technical aspects of financial reporting and is an extraordinarily gifted teacher, the firms turn to her to help them teach accounting issues internally,” Shackelford said.
The relationship enables her to adjust what she teaches to align with what is happening in the industry so that students learn from recent, relevant and real-world practices. “They are my partners in the accounting program,” she said. “They hire 98 percent of our students,” she added. “It’s critical that I sync with them on what’s changing in practice.”
Raedy cares deeply about her students and has high expectations for them. “We are educating the students now who will be leading the firms in 20 years,” she said.
“When it’s all said and done, our lives are about the lives we’ve impacted. I hope to do that in the best way possible.”
The impact Raedy makes as a teacher, an accounting professional and an individual is apparent to Amy Baker (BSBA ’93, MAC ’93), Ernst & Young LLP office managing partner for Raleigh and Greensboro.
“Jana taught me about being a teacher when I served as an adjunct professor, helping me bring to life the passion and skill needed to master auditing,” Baker said. “Jana’s energy, enthusiasm and genuine care for students, their skills, their depth of knowledge of the importance and responsibility to the markets were always evident. She is a great teacher, always teaching the student – even when the student is a teacher.”
EY has worked with Raedy for many years, Baker said. “She teaches us and collaborates with us, gaining insights from the regulatory environment around the world and seeking to understand different skills needed by students as the accounting profession changes. We fully believe in Jana’s ideas and are inspired by her vision to ensure the accounting profession has quality leaders for years to come. Her innovation for the online MAC Program is just another example of how she is leading into the future.”
“Our accounting profession is better every day because of Jana,” said Baker. “She holds the highest values and character, the core of what the profession is – reliable, credible and critical to the happenings within the market. She does this while being a wonderful mother, wife, daughter and friend. She is an outstanding role model for us all.”