An eight-year career in accounting and financial management accidentally led Melissa Hart from the company’s Washington DC offices to the innovative core of the Research Triangle. Today, as a Senior Lecturer in Finance at Poole College of Management, she is an inspiring example of what it means to maintain the love of learning long after completing a formal education.

What were the highlights of your career in public accounting?

I’m the kind of person who likes variety in my job. Being a chartered accountant has given me the opportunity to work with a wide range of clients. There was always something new to learn or new networks to build. When I moved to Raleigh, I joined a company that focused on providing accounting and financial services to entrepreneurs in the area, which sparked my interest in business management from finance.

Back in Washington, most of the businesses were already well established. But around the turn of the century, in Raleigh and the rest of the Southeastern United States, private companies went public, entrepreneurship took off, and technological innovation was just taking hold. I have had the privilege of providing financial advice to people early in their career. It was inspiring to be in a center of people making new ideas come true.

Alex (son), Melissa, Madelyn (daughter) and David (husband) at Wake Forest Seminary for Madelyn’s Homecoming dance

What prompted your career to move from industry to college?

In 2005, I obtained an MBA from NC State University and found myself at a crossroads in my career. One potential route was to return to the industry with my new degree, perhaps land a job at a major bank or finance company. But after working for so long with creative entrepreneurs, I knew I couldn’t go back to a standard office job where my eyes were spinning from staring at spreadsheets all day. One of my mentors at the time suggested that I try academia, and once I started teaching at Poole, I never looked back. Instead of waking up in the morning and thinking, “I have to go to work,” I feel eager to see what I can accomplish and learn alongside my colleagues and students.

What’s the most rewarding part of teaching at Poole?

Whether I’m in class or having dinner with my family, I think my most used way of starting a sentence is, “I just read an article on. . . “Poole has always been a welcoming space for me to pursue knowledge that may be outside of my immediate area of ​​expertise. For example, researching a question about mutual funds might lead me on a trail of rabbit online to learn more about the behavioral and generational differences that influence the way we invest our money.Finance is very interdisciplinary, which makes the field interesting to me.

It’s also incredibly rewarding for me to hear graduates talk about how my classes have helped open their eyes to new career opportunities. Alumni always send me articles, links and updates on where life has taken them since graduation. There really is nothing more rewarding for a teacher than hearing how my students have used the knowledge they have learned from my lessons.

Rescue puppy David, Melissa and Theo at Tanglewood Park, Clemmons, NC

How would you describe your teaching style?

I never teach the exam. It is important to me that my students are well equipped to take what they learn in my classes and apply it to their lived reality. I also believe in the power of storytelling in academia and take every opportunity to share personal examples from my time in the industry to help my students resonate with often complicated concepts. My goal is to demonstrate why this material is both meaningful and applicable to situations they might encounter in their future.

What advice would you give to students who wish to pursue a career in finance?

Stay curious about the world around you, dare to ask questions and always be ready to say “yes” to new experiences. I have former finance students who have landed positions in business financial analysis, sales, personal financial planning, private consulting, and countless other fields. Many have even started to start their own businesses. You never know where your academic and professional career will take you, so keep your eyes peeled.

How do you spend your time outside of the classroom?

No matter where I go, I have a book under my arm or a podcast downloaded to my phone. One of my favorite books is “The Millionaire Next Door” by Thomas Stanley and William Danko. The authors uncover facts and myths about the lives of millionaires, such as how most of them choose to drive more humble vehicles than expected. As well as being a fascinating and fun read, the book also provides many examples that I draw inspiration from during my lectures. I am also a loyal listener of Kiplinger’s “Your Money’s Worth” podcast and a dedicated reader of The the Wall Street newspaper. In the end, there are so many people to explore, and I don’t want to miss it. I hope I can instill the same love for learning in my students and inspire them even a small fraction of how much they inspire me.

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