As classes were winding down, I began catching up on my neglected Netflix subscription, and I realized that I just was not ready to give up the student lifestyle. Consequently, I revisited many of the “oldie but goodie” inspirational teacher movies like Dead Poets Society, Good Will Hunting, and Finding Forrester. While watching these movies, I realized that they would not be classics without the critical supporting roles of Robin Williams and Sean Connery. It got me thinking about my last few years and who has filled that essential supporting role in my educational journey here at Fuqua. In less than a few seconds, I mentally gave that award to my accounting professor, Shane Dikolli.
In an earlier post, I laid out some of my goals for getting out of my comfort zone during my last year at Fuqua. My first successful achievement was voluntarily taking a 500-level accounting class this past fall. While numerous recruiters stated this was the one class you shouldn’t graduate from Fuqua without, I didn’t take the course to follow their advice. I took the class because the professor, Shane Dikolli, wouldn’t stop bugging me to take it.
I showed up on the first day of Shane’s class comforted by the fact that I could drop the course later that day, if need be. Shane gave us an introduction to the class and quickly shared with us that in our classroom of 70 students, there were 4 Michaels, 5 former Deloitte consultants, and one person from Australia (Shane’s home country). He then went on to name every one of the students in the classroom, along with fun facts that he picked up from his independent research. After witnessing this feat in the first 15 minutes of class, I thought, how could I not commit to Shane for a 6-week term when he had already committed to so much on the first day? While the course was a lot of work, Shane’s passion-filled lectures, similar to Robin Williams in Good Will Hunting, made it worth the effort.
Like many MBA professors, Shane uses the case method. However, each case is supplemented by acronyms, catch phrases, and theatrical displays — one including a tuxedo, a teddy bear and Gordon Gecko hair — I’ll stop here to avoid spoiling too much for future students. These antics along with his tendency to cold call students in his entertaining Australian accent make it nearly impossible not to be engaged throughout the entire class (think Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society). A case study is due for every class, which requires a lot of outside preparation, but we can’t complain since Shane does his homework as well. He watches recordings of his previous classes to see what his students see and how he can make improvements to his teaching methods.
While his professorial efforts are too numerous to count (accounting pun intended), his lessons and values extend beyond the classroom. After talking to several of my classmates about Shane, all stories, including my own, began with how we each met Shane outside of the classroom. We’ve run into him at Fuqua Friday, Fuqua Idol (he’s a judge for that), Dancing with the Faculty (as a dance participant), and the Association of Women in Business conference. The following are a few additional anecdotes and quotes from fellow classmates about Shane:
- He truly listens, gives thoughtful advice, believes the things he teaches and wants the best for his students. – JC Conover
- Shane participated in the second-year improv [workshop] so that he could understand the types of things that we were all doing in order to understand his students. Shane saw it as an opportunity to see it through our eyes. This in and of itself was remarkable. – Spencer Karney
- Shane’s most valuable Fuqua Friday lesson is to always hold your drink in your left hand so that you can leave your right hand warm, dry, and ready to shake hands and network. – Multiple students
- If I had one word to describe Shane, it would be “accessible.” He encourages his students to incessantly email him and use his office hours. What professor encourages you to over-consume scarce resources? – Benjamin van der Horst
- In an academic world where research competes for priority with time spent teaching, Shane is as selfless as they come. Outside the classroom, Shane lives “team Fuqua” . . . it’s clear that Fuqua is more than just a place of employment to Shane. – Michael Bruno
If you Google Shane, you’ll quickly notice he’s won numerous teaching awards at Fuqua (5 years running), Bloomberg Businessweek recognition, and coveted cameos in many FuquaVision skits. His accounting accolades even led him to meeting his wonderful wife Lynn, 23 years ago (if you get the opportunity, ask Lynn to tell you the whole story of how they met).
So while I could have avoided Managerial Accounting and still met Shane, I would have missed the entire “Shane experience.” His support of his students is not unlike Sean Connery’s in Finding Forrester. His commitment to the entire student experience is what makes him not only a genuinely unique educator, but a vital supporting role in our Fuqua MBA journey.