From early 2015, La Trobe Business School has introduced a team of Professors of Practice, staff with extensive industry experience. As one of the first Business Schools in Australia to pioneer this concept, LBS’s goal is that the Professors of Practice will provide their students with professional and practical insights into the business world, and that they will form a connection between industry and LBS students, contributing to the students’ business knowledge and employability.
Appointed as one of the Department of Accounting’s Professors of Practice, Mark Morris’s extensive tax experience in industry is a considerable resource to LBS and to the university. “I think I have a very unusual career,” he says, “in that I have been exposed to most facets of tax in virtually all market segments since I joined the profession over 30 years ago.”
Starting out in the big four accounting firms, Mark moved on to be the Tax Manager for Foster’s Brewing Group Ltd. After this, he spent eight years as the Tax Counsel at Mobil Oil Australia Ltd and then worked as the Group Tax manager at GM Holden Ltd. Thereafter he was a Tax Principal with two mid-market chartered accounting firms before ending up as the Senior Tax Counsel at CPA Australia for more than nine years.
At CPA Australia, Mark’s role involved consulting with Treasury and the Australian Taxation Office on the design, interpretation and administration of all Federal taxation laws, including liaison with a diverse range of members over a wide array of issues. Mark was also heavily involved in providing media comment on pressing issues, through both traditional and new media, either as a direct commentator or by presenting the organisation’s views on tax developments.
Mark has also presented at numerous professional forums about contemporary issues impacting the tax profession and the broader community “I am fortunate that I have garnered a wide range of experience and knowledge across various environments which I can bring to the table to the La Trobe Business School,” Mark comments, “And I always wanted to teach. So, this seemed like a great opportunity to share my insights with students who I hope benefit from some of my professional experiences.”
Having worked with a number of LBS students, Mark recognises that students need an adaptive skillset in today’s job market more than ever. According to him, being able to bring practical examples of what happens in the real world into the classroom is one of the main tasks of a Professor of Practice. Mark comments: “I try to provide insights as to what they will find in the workplace wherever I can, because this is exactly the kind of knowledge that can give them an edge to stand out from the crowd. With the rise of Big Data, new technologies, outsourcing and a competitive market, graduates need to have a clear strategy when it comes to their skillset, their personal branding, and their industry connections.”
In Mark’s opinion, having the Professors of Practice in place adds further value to LBS and helps to build bridges between industry, students, and the broader community. “We create plenty of meaningful research at La Trobe Business School. If we can combine this intellectual resource with engaging teaching methods we can hopefully infuse our students with a greater commercial skill set as well as a strong theoretical foundation, which can make an enormous difference for graduates and future employers.” Mark says. “In that sense, being a Professor of Practice is a terrific role, because not only do we get to be very creative in our teaching, but we can also actively add value through our industry experience and connections. And when we create and reinforce strong relationships with several professional organisations – as La Trobe Business School has done – students will be able to get relevant work experience, while employers benefit from a pair of extra hands on deck. In this type of situation, everybody wins.”