Professor Emma Schultz's journey from finance to governance

16 Nov 2023

Professor Emma Schultz, Associate Dean (Research) of the Australian National University's (ANU) College of Business and Economics (CBE), never set out to be an academic. 

Self-confessed "finance nerd" Emma says her dream of a corporate life led her to enrol in a combined Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Law degree. She was so keen to start work in the financial markets that she left University as soon as she'd finished her studies in commerce, going on to work as accountant and then an investment banker in the wake of the Asian financial crisis. 

"Working in risk management piqued my interest in control structures and their importance in scaffolding institutional performance," she says.  

"It was that interest which sparked my decision to undertake a PhD focused on corporate governance. While the original plan was to go back to the corporate world after graduating, having a family and a desire to expand on my research into governance meant I stayed in academia." 

Emma's interest and expertise in governance meant she put her hand up for the CBE ADR role as soon as the opportunity came up.

"Even the most brilliant researchers and teachers cannot succeed unless they are supported by structures which enable them to work and promote themselves effectively," she says.

"These include physical and digital infrastructure, researcher and research development support and systems for communicating outcomes to stakeholders across, and beyond, the University. This has been my focus as ADR and, given the time taken to develop and implement appropriate support structures, I've been kept engaged in the role for the last seven years.

"While I've loved learning about research happening across the university, and connecting people with each other, building cross-campus relationships has also shown that we share more challenges and opportunities than most might think. And the support structures needed to respond to them are also similar.

"A prime example is world-class digital infrastructure, including an online portal that promotes the incredible work of our people," she says.

"I am happy that I can help deliver this infrastructure in my roles as Deputy Chair of the University Research Committee, as a member of the Research and Business Development Board which was formed as part of the Digital Master Plan, and as academic lead of the rollout of Research Portal Plus.

"Research Portal Plus will replace the current researcher profile pages, and will allow us to more effectively promote the work of all ANU staff and HDR students, both individually as well as by discipline and / or administrative area."  

"The rollout is a critical step in reducing the opacity of the ANU to outsiders and, in doing so, show the world our capability to address even the most complex problems."

Throughout her time as ADR, Emma has continued work on her research, albeit at a slower pace. Her focus has been on completing the project "The Aging Population, Superannuation, and Corporate Dividend Policy", awarded funding through the ARC Discovery Projects 2016 scheme just before she stepped into the ADR role. 

Emma will step down from the ADR role in May 2024, and is looking forward to returning to her research, specifically, building governance literacy in indigenous organisations. 

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