Making a difference with Oracle Academy
The spotlight is on Christy Nielson, Assistant Professor, Patterson School of Accountancy, University of Mississippi, U.S.
The University of Mississippi, often referred to as Ole Miss, is nestled in Oxford, a quaint small town in the northeastern part of the state of Mississippi. It is the state’s flagship university, with 24,000 students and 15 academic divisions. These divisions include major schools of medicine, accountancy, law, and pharmacy.
The accountancy school, known as the Patterson School of Accountancy (PSOA) has received many accolades and is consistently ranked one of the nation’s top accounting programs by the Public Accounting Report.
Christy Nielson is an Assistant Professor in the PSOA, teaching Accounting Information Processes and Analytics (ACCY 530). She also proudly serves as a member of the PSOA’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee and represents the PSOA on the Faculty Senate.
The PSOA has partnered with one of the largest accounting firms in the world to offer a prestigious and distinctive Master’s degree that combines accounting acumen with technological expertise. There has been tremendous uptake in this program from students both in the U.S. and globally. The ACCY 530 course is one of the required courses in this innovative program.
Nielson graduated with a Bachelor’s degree and Master’s of Accountancy from the University of Mississippi, and later obtained her PhD from the University of Georgia. Nielson has been using NetSuite SaaS for several years and provides her students with hands-on experience in the program to prepare them for real-world accounting.
Oracle Academy: Which topics do you cover in the ACCY 530: Accounting Information Processes and Analytics course?
Christy Nielson: For the first half of the course, we focus on how to audit systems. This involves tackling topics such as understanding Enterprise Resource Planning systems (ERPs) in the accounts payable and accounts receivable cycles; auditing operating systems, networks, and databases; and auditing application controls. For the second half of the course, we focus on how to use systems to audit. This includes topics such as using data analytics for fraud detection, inventory audits, accounts payable audits, and accounts receivable audits.
Oracle Academy: Why did you choose NetSuite to teach hands-on accounting systems?
Christy Nielson: I enjoy teaching concepts related to ERPs through hands-on experience because my students engage with the materials better using this approach. NetSuite is a cloud-based ERP system, which means that my students can access NetSuite and complete their assignments from any computer, so long as they have internet access.
As another plus, I allow my students to work in teams to complete some of their assignments, and NetSuite is conducive to students working jointly. Finally, I am hopeful that my students’ hands-on experience with NetSuite will increase their confidence in their technological know-how.
Oracle Academy: Wonderful. Can you tell us more about the hands-on experience?
Christy Nielson: My students work through simulations in NetSuite that demonstrate how documents flow through the accounts payable and accounts receivable cycles. In the accounts payable cycle, students create an inventory item for “their business,” create a purchase order for this inventory item, receive the purchased item, create a bill for the received item, and finally pay their bill. In the accounts receivable cycle, students create a sales order for a customer, check the customer’s credit, approve the customer’s sales order, fulfill the customer’s order, bill the customer for the order, and accept the customer’s payment.
Oracle Academy: What is your overall opinion of NetSuite as an aid to teaching your course?
Christy Nielson: I am extremely grateful for access to NetSuite, because it is an instrumental tool for teaching my students about ERP systems, which is a critical component of my course. Auditing standards require auditors to gain an understanding of their clients’ systems, which include ERP systems. Hands-on experience with NetSuite helps students to build a model in their minds for the business-side of how goods are purchased and sold. These mental models are critical to understanding how ERPs function. When auditors better understand how ERPs function, they improve their radars for when they should be appropriately skeptical of clients’ financials. For example, auditors who know that certain journal entries are typically automated by the ERP system will be more likely to be appropriately skeptical if this type of entry is made manually.
Oracle Academy: You’re also a member of the PSOA Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee. What are your thoughts about women in technology?
Christy Nielson: While women make up about half of the workforce, they occupy only a quarter of technology-related positions. This type of gender gap can leave women feeling that the technology field isn’t “their space.” I hope to serve as an example to my students that women can be successful in technology-related career paths. In my personal experience, having a female mentor in the technology space gave me confidence that I too could have success following a similar path. I believe the rigor of our program and the women at the front of our classrooms will give women students confidence to pursue technology-related careers, chipping away at this troublesome gender gap.
Oracle Academy: You have a very busy schedule, but what do you like to do in your off hours?
Christy Nielson: I am a new mom, and perhaps unsurprisingly, my favorite thing to do outside of work is to spend time with my young daughter. Similar to my husband and me, our daughter likes to be outside, so family hikes are a favorite. I also enjoy baking and yoga - you may be surprised at how well you can incorporate an infant into these activities!
Thank you, Dr. Christy Nielson, for your passion for Oracle Academy and for preparing your students to make a positive impact.