Akwasi Ampofo was the first graduate of the Executive Ph.D. program. Photo courtesy of Akwasi Ampofo.
Akwasi Ampofo was the first graduate of the Executive Ph.D. program. Photo courtesy of Akwasi Ampofo.

Editor's note: This is the first in a series of profiles of students and alumni of the Pamplin College of Business Executive Ph.D. program, also known as the Ph.D. concentration in Executive Business Research. For more information about the program, please visit the Executive Ph.D. website.

The Executive Ph.D. that Akwasi Ampofo earned as the first graduate of the Pamplin program in Spring 2021 is already propelling his career forward.

Almost immediately, Ampofo said, he was promoted from director to vice president of financial reporting and accounting policy at Prudential Financial Inc. in Newark, New Jersey. And he has noticed a marked increase in his productivity both as a business executive and in academia. Ampofo is an adjunct professor at the University of Connecticut, School of Business.

“The Executive Ph.D. program prepared me very well for research, critical thinking, writing for publication, and communicating results effectively. I learned core competencies in researching interesting topics that really matter to business and academia and these skillsets are helping me tremendously in my professional life,” Ampofo said.

Ampofo’s experience includes 20 years in the financial services industry. Prior to joining Prudential, he held leadership positions at MassMutual; the United States Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB); the Hartford, Swiss Re, Cigna Corporation; and the Development Training Institute Inc.

He also continues to teach, he said, “because I truly enjoy learning and sharing my professional experiences in the classroom with students.”

As a graduate student himself, one of the things he liked most was the way the Executive Ph.D. program focuses on research and publication and is organized into courses in methods, specialization area (his concentration was accounting). His search for an Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)-accredited Ph.D. program brought him to the Pamplin website where he was attracted by the national recognition of Virginia Tech, the program director's impressive qualifications and background, and the clear program outline and expectations. Taking the same classes as a full time Ph.D. student also registered as a plus for him.

Moving through the program, Ampofo said he “felt very privileged to learn from and work with highly published leaders and professors, including my dissertation chairperson Dr. Reza Barkhi, and committee members Dr. Robert Davidson, Dr. Sudip Bhattercharjee, and Dr. Raman Kumar. I learned so much and am indebted to them for the outstanding support, preparation, and feedback they gave me.”

Ampofo’s research spans interdisciplinary financial statement analysis and decision-making, blockchain technology, right of use assets, accounting ethics, CEO power, cost of capital, and leverage and firm value. He is also interested in accounting standard-setting research in the topics of leases, revenue recognition, insurance accounting, and employee benefits. His final dissertation was entitled “Two Essays on Capital Structure Decisions of the Firm: An Empirical Analysis of the Impact of Managerial Entrenchment and Ethical Corporate Citizenship.”

He presented his research at the 2021 American Accounting Association (AAA) Conference, has three papers currently under review by various journals, and is continuing to collaborate with Barkhi.

“I believe that Pamplin’s Executive Ph.D. program equips students with superior research and critical thinking skills that will have an impact for years to come. The faculty and support staff are truly outstanding scholars who make the process challenging, enjoyable, and rewarding for everyone,” said Ampofo.

“The program transformed both my thinking and output and I would highly recommend it to others who are interested in research and looking for a program that allows them to continue working while earning a Ph.D.”

- Written by Barbara Micale