Shane Dikolli CPA

Associate Professor Accounting, Duke University: The Fuqua School of Business (US)

'I spent a lot of time as a kid pretending to be a teacher.'
'I spent a lot of time as a kid pretending to be a teacher.'

Professor Shane Dikolli has more accolades to his name than his favourite television drama, the award-winning Friday Night Lights. As a teacher of an MBA in managerial accounting at Duke University, he was named a “Top 5 Most Popular Business Professor” by Bloomberg Business Week in 2011. He’s also October 2011’s Financial Times “Professor of the Week” as well as a multiple Excellence in Teaching Award winner.

Dikolli has taught in his native Australia, Canada, Singapore and Malaysia. He presently heads a research project at Duke that measures CEO integrity “through a count of causation words in annual shareholder letters”, he explains.

“We assume that causation words proxy for excuses and we find that if a CEO demonstrates an abnormal level of excuses, it is linked to poor accruals quality, in that accruals do not map well in future cash flows.”

When not parsing CEO speak, Dikolli mentors high school students on a volunteer basis and is enthusiastically involved in student-led events in the university city of Durham, North Carolina.

“I’ve been a judge in Fuqua Idol, Fuqua Iron Chef, Fuqua Musical, Fuqua Cheer-off and Fuqua’s Got Talent,” Dikolli reveals.

“I open the bowling and captain one of the teams in the Fuqua Cricket Club’s ‘Fuqua Ashes’. We recently did a Fuqua Feed the Hungry event, where my family and I participated in a production line that helped pack thousands of meals for starving people in Africa. I also host an annual ‘Grog, Plonk and Tucker’ event at my house as part of a charity auction – students bid on the event and I provide beer, Aussie wine and a barbecue for the winning bidders.” recently caught up with Dikolli on a visit to Melbourne, Australia. We asked him 7 questions about his life on the move.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

I spent a lot of time as a kid pretending to be a teacher. I would assign assignments, demonstrate to fictitious students how to complete a task, and thought a lot about how to discipline the misbehaved students. Like every other kid I knew growing up, I also spent a lot of time pretending to be a professional footballer (in the winter) and a professional cricketer (in the summer). 

What was your first paying job?

In high school I was a night packer at a Coles grocery store. I lasted two nights. I lacked the skills to do a good job, figured it out quickly and realised I needed to do something else. Soon after, I became a kitchen hand at Red Rooster. I also lacked the skills to do a great job there but I knew I could do a good enough job. [Accounting firm] Hendry, Rae and Court was my first full-time paying job. I worked in the taxation and company secretarial area.

How has your personal life changed as your professional life evolved?

When I worked at Hendry, Rae and Court, at 5.30pm on a Friday night my colleagues and I used to meet for Happy Hour at the Old Melbourne Hotel. Now, at the Fuqua School of Business at 5.30pm on a Friday night, I meet students and faculty for “Fuqua Friday”, where the school closes down for two hours, offers free beer and wine and an opportunity to socialise.  In that social sense, not much has changed.

If there was one thing you could change about your job, what would it be?

The time it takes to get a research study published. From idea conception to the time the paper gets accepted for publication can be anywhere from two to five years.
Wine or water at lunch. Why?

Water. One of my favourite mottos is “clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose,” from Friday Night Lights. I think it’s easier to fulfil this motto with water, rather than wine, at lunch.

What’s the one app you can’t live without?

GoodReader. When I attend conferences, I load the PDFs and write notes on them. Part of my job also requires reviewing papers for academic journals; the ability of GoodReader to allow me to handwrite notes on pdfs is incredibly helpful.

What’s your motto: save or spend?

Save first and then when we spend, ensure it’s according to the MUN rule, which my wife and I devised when we first lived together. MUN is an acronym that must be applied to the potential purchase: M=Multiple Uses, U=Unique (as in we don’t already have whatever it is we are planning to buy) and N=Necessary.


Going Global” is a series that looks at the challenges and rewards of moving for work in today’s global economy. Do you know someone working away from home? Email aeve.baldwin at

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