Meet the Expert: Emily Walsh ’98
August 1, 2015
When Asbury University alumni return to campus for Reunion, one of the things they say goes something like, “When I came to class, I knew I wasn’t just another student to my professor. He knew me, he challenged me, and I’m better at what I do now because he knew what he was talking about.” In an ongoing Web series, Asbury will feature just a few of the faculty at Asbury who are making a difference in both their subject areas and their classrooms.
Management and accounting are disciplines often associated with corporate culture and secular values. Asbury University Assistant Professor Emily Walsh’s perspective on these subjects is both deeply spiritual and universally practical for walks of life ranging from stay-at-home parent to multi-national CEO.
It begins with a knack for recognizing in Scripture the business principles that undergird much of modern life. Take, for example, the story of Joseph’s management of Egypt in the book of Genesis. Where some might see history or an excellent example of forgiveness, Walsh — a member of the faculty in Asbury’s Howard Dayton School of Business — sees business administration: strategic planning to stockpile inventory (grain); inventory management to last seven years of scarcity; product valuation to set a price the market would bear; even marketing to get the word out that Egypt had an in-demand product.
In addition to Joseph’s business acumen is his dependence on God to use his work to accomplish something beyond his reach: the chance to be reconciled to his family. The combination of competence in the marketplace and a life-giving relationship with God — or in Asbury lingo, academic excellence and spiritual vitality — is at the heart of Walsh’s vision for her students.
“We talk about stewardship a lot on this campus,” Walsh said. “But what is stewardship? How do we define it?”
“A manager is a steward: of people, of resources, of the community, and something I’ve learned over time is that there are managers in all types of organizations in all types of groups. We tend to equate ‘manager’ with for-profit business or qualify it as ‘non-profit manager,’ as if that’s something different. Something we can teach our students is that a manager is a manager: someone responsible for resources and people and decision-making. In today’s environment in the U.S., we underestimate the management of being a stay-at-home parent, or a parent in general, and it’s a big responsibility and one of our greatest callings.”
Closely tied to Walsh’s understanding of management as stewardship is her conviction — and research focus — concerning the importance of internal controls. She is fascinated with the relationship between internal controls in business environments and accountability in faith-based environments.
“Internal controls are not in place to suggest that someone is going to do something wrong,” she said. “They are there to protect the organization and individual, and if we can get past the negative connotation, it’s very valuable for the longevity of the organization. If you’re tithing to a church without good controls — one with no board, for example — then who’s accountable for the stewardship of those funds? The pastor? The pastor is human and fallible. It’s important to open the eyes of those who may not see that so they can protect their congregation.
“I’ve conducted fraud investigations and have experienced fraud, and it’s a betrayal. For a congregation to experience that betrayal when it could have been prevented is unnecessary. There isn’t a lot of research on this, so I’d like to research it more.”
Management as a business discipline requires an ongoing process of critical thinking — one of the hallmarks of a liberal arts education. By bringing the critical thinking skills and internal controls to bear on both the business and faith-based worlds, Walsh and the Asbury students under her instruction can impact individuals and institutions around the world.
Prior to teaching at Asbury, Walsh ’98 spent 10 years working for Lexmark International in a variety of roles within Accounting, Internal Audit and Finance. She received her MBA from Norwich University in 2006 and is currently completing her doctorate of business administration in Accounting through Anderson University. Walsh lives in Wilmore with her husband Eric (Asbury University class of 1999) and their two children, Suzanna and James.
Originally published on December 17, 2014
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