Meet the Faculty: Accounting Professor Cynthia Nye
Cynthia Nye is a Professor in the College of Business at Bellevue University.. She teaches in the Accounting program and focuses on Advance Cost Accounting, International Accounting, Seminars in Contemporary Accounting, and Managerial Accounting.
I’m not sure that people know the different types/subfields of accounting. Can you tell me how the fields differ? Or how they’re the same?
Cost accounting focuses on analyzing the costs within an organization based on both financial and cost accounting principles. Managerial accounting supports management by providing internal reports for decision-making purposes. International accounting gives students the opportunity to learn about International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), which are very similar to U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), but are used by companies outside the U.S.. Publicly traded U.S. companies are required to follow U.S. GAAP. Contemporary accounting focuses on keeping students current on topics that are at the forefront of accounting, which would include updates that have occurred recently in U.S. GAAP and SEC regulation.
Accounting is commonly referred to as the language of business. All areas of a business need to understand the basics of accounting, since accounting in used in all operations of an organization. The marketing and operations area need to understand breakeven analysis to make sure a company is profitable.
What exactly do Bellevue University students who study accounting learn? What are some of the specific skills they work to master and what areas do they gain exposure to and experience in?
Accounting students at Bellevue University learn to prepare financial statements, prepare tax returns, apply auditing skills, analyze data, develop internal reports for management, breakeven analysis, budget preparation, variance analysis, use different types of software, and fine tune their communication skills.
The courses are building blocks to each other as the students move through the program. Students will develop skills in various types of software to support financial accounting, tax, auditing and database management.
How long have you been teaching at Bellevue University? How have you seen students change over the years/decades?
I started at Bellevue University in 1994 and at that time I did not have a computer in my office. Within six months, I had a computer and by 1996, I had started teaching online classes in addition to residential classes. Today, students still want to learn, but I see more students who want and need the flexibility of the online modality.
Accounting is one of those fields that a large portion of the population often thinks of as incredibly difficult because it involves math. But aren’t accounting concepts and principles present in everyday life?
Anyone who has ever bought a car or home using debt was using accounting. Each payment includes principal and interest and as the amount of payments progress more of the payment goes toward principal until the amount of the debt is paid off.
Compound interest is a powerful concept in accounting. We use the compounding effect in savings accounts and reinvesting interest and dividends.
Most people have a monthly budget to make sure that what they bring in will cover the costs that are going out monthly.
Before repairing a car versus buying a new car, people will use a cost benefit analysis to determine which choice they should make after evaluating the quantitative and qualitative areas of the decision.
What role does critical thinking play in accounting?
A big part of accounting is drilling down on the data and connecting the dots to provide solutions that can lead to a successful strategy. Our students have the opportunity to analyze and interpret data to develop a recommendation that management can implement.
Accounting is commonly referred to as the ‘language of business.’ All areas of a business need to understand the basics of accounting, since accounting in used in all operations of an organization.
The world seems more connected than ever before. Why is it important for those studying or working in accounting to understand international business issues and impacts?
Most students most likely will be working for a company that has international operations or works with vendors abroad. It is important for accountants to understand the flow of goods in and out of the country and how the changes in exchange rates influences the selling and buying of goods in different currency. International business issues like tariffs, geopolitical, and taxes, to name a few, need to be understood when working in international business. Technology has made companies connected throughout the world.
How has technology changed the field of accounting over the last decade and what changes do you expect to see in the next five years?
The biggest change is this concept of “big data.” Now there is so much data available, but it' is important to be able to drill down on data so the data can provide useful information for monitoring and control.
Data analytics has become a major part of accounting and this is evident from the major initiative announced in 2021 by the National and State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). They introduced the new Model for Licensure, which is based on the new CPA exam to begin Jan. 1, 2024. This initiative is about transforming the CPA licensure model to recognize the rapidly changing skills and competencies the practice of accounting requires today and will require in the future.
I know Bellevue University offers both a Bachelor of Science in Accounting and a Master of Science in Accounting. What should students considering the field know about those programs/offerings? For example, is one preferred in certain industries or job roles?
The Bachelor of Science in Accounting not only gives students the opportunity to take accounting classes, but there is a business core that is made up of various business courses from different disciplines. This allows the student to have a good foundation in business and accounting. The Bachelor of Science in Accounting is for those students starting out in accounting and will provide them the skills for an entry level accounting job.
The Master of Science in Accounting allows student the opportunity to work toward the 150 hour requirement that is required in some states to sit for the CPA exam. Students pursuing the Bachelor of Science in Accounting can start taking graduate accounting courses in their senior year that will give them a jumpstart on the Master of Science in Accounting degree.
The most recognizable professional certification in accounting is the CPA. You have your CPA, but also your CMA and CFM. What are those certifications and how do they differ from the CPA?
The CPA is focused on public accounting and required to practice as a CPA in a CPA firm. The CMA, the Certified Management Accountant, and CFM, Certified in Financial Management are both certifications that focus on internal operations of any organization.
You had a successful career in accounting before you became a full-time faculty member in the College of Business. Can you tell me what you did and how that experience informs your teaching today?
I worked in a CPA firm and then I was the first internal auditor for a community college. I learned very quickly that I was going to be a lifelong learner and the need to be a team player. I try to share with students the need to keep developing skills so that any organization will see the value the student brings to the job and the need to have excellent communication skills.
I realized the importance of being current in U.S. GAAP and the need to be proficient in technology. Accounting and technology have changed dramatically over the years and I see that this will continue in the future.
What would you tell a prospective student considering a career in the accounting field?
Accounting has so many opportunities because this discipline is so broad. Students will be able to pick from different areas of accounting to pursue a career, such as, tax, auditing and governmental accounting.
Accounting is challenging, but that is what makes it fun - to solve problems to help any type of organization. Accounting has a lot of opportunity for upward mobility, because all organizations need accountants and need leaders of the organization to have strong accounting knowledge and skills.
Finally, accounting does not limit a student to a certain type of organizations. There are accountants in all types of organizations, for example, hospitals, state and federal government, corporations, small businesses, and CPA firms, to name a few.
What is the most gratifying aspect of your role as a professor?
I enjoy the excitement that students display as they learn new things. Many of our students are non-traditional and already have a job and are coming back to Bellevue University to learn new skills and/or help them to progress further in their careers.
I love hearing from students that they are able to use what they are learning in class. I will have students tell me that they went to their manager and recommended that the company implement one of the cost and control skills they learned in class and the manager liked the idea and the company was implementing this recommendation. I also enjoy seeing students succeed on a project that they have been working on in class and feel like all their hard work has paid off is very rewarding for me.
I am one of the faculty sponsors of the Student Chapter of the Institute of Management Accountants and we have accounting alumni come back to Bellevue University and share their accounting journey at the student chapter meetings. It makes me proud to see what these alumni have achieved and how grateful they are to Bellevue University.