By Shawgat S. Kutubi

I recently attended the banking and stability course offered by the Financial Research Network (FIRN) and organized by the University of Sydney Business School from 18-22 July, 2016.  I am a PhD candidate in LBS in the Department of Accounting.  My thesis research is focused on “Busy Directors’ Impact on Bank Performance, Risk-Taking and Earnings Quality”.  As stated on its website, “FIRN : the Financial Research Network – is a network of finance schools across Australian universities whose focus is on developing better research outcomes, better researchers, better educated PhD students and better collaborations nationally and internationally through networking and researcher development.” (

The 5-day long course took place at the newly established building of the university at its Darlington campus and had 22 participants from several business school across Australia. Days were divided into two morning and afternoon sessions each day. The event was co-ordinated by Associate Professor Eliza Wu from the University of Sydney Business School.

1. Meaningful Feedback

Before the course began, the coordinator sent designated papers to all participants, with the papers being presented during the morning sessions. Each presenter was assigned two papers, and asked to present them critically. Afterwards both presenter and participants were asked to develop a new research idea using the findings and limitations discussed in presented papers. Then, the coordinator paired students to discuss future research possibilities using the new idea(s) generated within the class, according to their own research background. I found the brainstorming part of finding new research ideas fascinating.

The afternoon sessions allowed the PhD researchers to discuss their own research. This session gave me and many others the opportunity to learn about new data-analysis techniques and various data-sources from the course participants and coordinator. As an emerging researcher, hearing other researcher’s critical comments allowed me see my research from an entirely different perspective.

2. Research doesn’t have boundaries

As a PhD researcher joining this course I found that it particularly helped me to learn about certain tools of research from experienced academics. One of the experienced participants was Professor Iftekhar Hasan, who is a Professor of Finance, at Fordham University, USA. Speaking to him made me realise that there are no boundaries to doing research; research interest and research jurisdictions should not necessarily make the researcher parochial. Professor Hasan shared his personal journey of becoming a world class researcher, motivating the emerging young researchers attending to develop career strategies according to the ever growing challenges in the world of academia. This, along with speaking to other passionate researchers, motivated me to try and seize more international opportunities as a researcher, once I complete my PhD.

In short, this course was a unique opportunity for a young researcher to network with banking and finance researchers at Australian universities. I would strongly recommend all fellow PhD researchers at La Trobe Business School to join courses offered by FIRN (and other organizations who host courses and degree programs).

I would particularly like to thank my supervisor Professor Kamran Ahmed, Department of Accounting, for giving me this opportunity and encouraging me to join this course at a later stage of my thesis writing.