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Scholar spotlight

This page highlights the people who are making accounting impactful.

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Mélissa Fortin

Assistant Professor

Basically, impact, for me, is influence. Positive influence. My wish is to bridge the gap between theory and practice to create something that can have the biggest and most important impact on society. This personal objective is not always easy, but in the field of academia, we have the privilege of bringing different people and topics together on different media: conferences, newspapers, etc. I am committed to disseminating my research projects in both the academic and business together to influence positively. Doing research is not always enough to have an impact; we must get involved in the community to share and popularize these scientific results. I am interested in emerging technology, but it applies to every topic. We have the opportunity to be in a society where it's easy to communicate, so let's take advantage of this to share our knowledge with everyone, and not just in academic journals to have … impact. 

Industry involvement

Mélissa worked in business and consulting in the field of management accounting for almost a decade before embarking on an academic career to become a professor. Management accounting is also her teaching expertise. With her CPA profession at heart, she teaches to prepare future CPAs for their national professional exam.


Mélissa is heavily involved in her city and community on a voluntary basis, sharing her expertise. She sits on three boards of directors: Desjardins, Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal, and the Chair of the Board of the Jeune Chambre de Commerce de Montréal.


Finally, she is also involved with the SCC (Standards Council of Canada) to connect with her research subject to participate in the standardization of blockchain and electronic ledger technologies. She is also involved with the Canadian Supply Chain Blockchain Association.


Research for impact 

Mélissa’s work has focused on emerging technologies in the context of the accounting profession. She looks at how cryptos such as Bitcoin are impacting and transforming the accountancy profession. She works closely with Professor Erica Pimentel and Professor Emilio Boulianne. Also, with her passion for management accounting, she is exploring permissioned blockchain, which aims to solve internal organization issues and address supply chain visibility, accountability and governance (practical and theoretical) impact. 

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Nelson Duenas

Assistant Professor,  Universidad Externado de Colombia

Nelson Duenas

Assistant Professor

Universidad Externado de Colombia


What is Impact?

To me, impact is not just about academic productivity but also about how our research initiatives can have a positive influence on the life of individuals and communities around the world. In times of disrupting societal challenges, impactful research engages different actors to produce new ideas and practices that aim at solving these challenges.

That is why I chose to do research in an empirical setting of paramount importance for global society, which is the international cooperation and development sector. This setting is the pinnacle of interorganizational and transnational efforts towards the improvement of life conditions for many disregarded communities around the world. 

Nelson Duenas is Ph.D. in Accounting from Concordia University, currently working at Universidad Externado de Colombia and soon will be joining University of Ottawa’s Telfer School of Management. He works with Professors Erica Pimentel, Claudine Mangen and Matthäus Tekathen on issues of accounting, performance measurement, and trust in international development relationships. He also collaborates with L’Observatoire Canadien Sur Les Crises et L'Action Humanitaires. 

About the Research

Early in his Ph.D. journey, Nelson placed impact and purpose at the forefront of his research initiatives. Relying on his former experience as an external auditor of international development projects in his native country of Colombia, Nelson decided to undertake accounting research about the managerial relationships between donors of development projects, usually located in industrialized Northern countries, and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) from the Global South. As the international development sector refers to organizations, initiatives, and efforts aimed at improving the economic, social, and political conditions of Global South countries, it is important to understand the nature and implications of the managerial and cooperation ties that occur between Northern and Southern actors.  

Due to differences in development goals and objectives, ways of managing development projects, and understandings of what constitutes a good project outcome, many tensions arise in the cooperation relationship. Nelson’s research aims at producing a better understanding of these differences to pave ways to healthier relationships between Northern donors and Global South organizations. These enhanced understandings include participatory approaches that give voice to the communities that are ultimately impacted by international development initiatives.

Impact through supporting NGOs

Considering that Global South NGOs suffer from administrative overload and lack of administrative resources to better manage their development projects, Nelson assists these organizations in improving their accounting, administrative, and accountability processes. As part of his fieldwork, Nelson “walks the talk” and uses his industry experience in external audit, financial analysis, and consulting to help Colombian NGOs enhancing their processes and strategies in areas such as project formulation, accounting procedures, administrative policies, and diversification of income sources. These efforts contribute to NGO capacity building and their adaptation to the changing accountability requirements from the international development architecture. 

In addition, the research outcomes derived from his fieldwork contribute to the dissemination and visibility of organizational, accounting, and administrative practices from the Global South that are often neglected in mainstream academic and managerial circles. 


About Nelson

Nelson Duenas is accountant, MBA and Ph.D. in Accounting from Concordia University, currently working at Universidad Externado de Colombia. He has industry experience in external audit and financial analysis. He worked at the United Nations’ Joint Inspection Unit in Switzerland and was a consultant to UNCTAD for the implementation of the Accounting Development Tool in Colombia. His research interests are in the areas of management control, international cooperation, and accountability. His research has been published in Critical Perspectives on Accountingand its work has been supported by grants from the Government of Québec, the CPA Research Center in Accountability, Concordia University, and Universidad Externado de Colombia.


Michelina Aguanno

PhD Candidate, Ivey Business School

What is Impact?

To me, impact is not an afterthought or something to be assessing in hindsight, but a guiding principle of how I engage with research.


Michelina Aguanno is a PhD Candidate at Ivey Business School working with Diane-Laure Arjaliès and Tima Bansal on conservation finance and systems innovation. While embarking on her journey as a PhD student, impact has been at the forefront of Michelina’s mind. When deciding where to position herself as a scholar and what research projects to embark on, a key part of the process has been asking questions such as: “What is the purpose of this research? What are the practical challenges this research is designed to address? What is the desired impact of this research? How do I play a role in amplifying the impact?”.


As PhD students, we are asked to question our theoretical contributions. Just as we are thinking about gaps in the academic literature, we should also be encouraged to think about the gaps and needs within our communities. As I embark on my journey as a researcher, I am constantly thinking about how I can practically contribute to the world to tackle sustainability challenges, and what the contributions of my work are to stakeholders outside of the academy.


About the Research

Michelina is on the research team of Innovation North, a lab in which researchers and practitioners co-create approaches to systems innovation. Through Innovation North, Michelina is working with practice partners tackling systems level challenges, such as biodiversity loss, by applying systems thinking to highlight key tensions, barriers, and opportunities to innovate. One of Michelina’s areas of interest includes conservation finance, leveraging financial mechanisms to fund nature conservation.


Michelina is also on the research team from Ivey Business School working on the Deshkan Ziibi Conservation Impact Bond (DZCIB) project. The DZCIB, is a community-based participatory research pilot project which engaged local conservationists, First Nations, impact investors, and private companies to finance the restoration of 1000 hectares of healthy habitat in the Carolinian zone, one of the most biodiverse ecoregions in Canada. 


Community-Based Impact

Impact is an important consideration at all stages of research. For Michelina, this starts as early as choosing a topic. Impact is not only about the breadth, but also depth. Meaningful impact can start at a community-level. I think impact starts from considering one’s community and which topics are salient. As researchers, we are situated in a place, moment in time, and broader systems. Impact is about being forward-thinking and acknowledging: what are the present needs of the community, what is the collective desired future, and how can my research play a role in overcoming this gap?


Impact Through Relationship-Building and Knowledge Co-creation

When designing our research projects, we can strive for impact not only through the output of the research, but also in the process of conducting research. This can be done by considering who you are engaging and the opportunities for impact through engagement. With the DZCIB project, the impact did not only occur through end product, but also throughout the development of the bond and research processes. The impact of this project included developing cross-sectoral and cross-cultural relationships among the partners of the project who were united through a common goal to restore healthy ecosystems and support biodiversity on the land.


As researchers, impact is not only about sharing knowledge, but also humbling oneself in a process of continuous learning and allowing the research process to be a space for collaborative learning, relationship-building, and the co-creation of knowledge. 


Impact through Mentorship and Training

Impact also occurs through the personal and professional growth based on mentorship and training. When student researchers begin on the team, it is important to consider: What elements of this project align with their long-term goals? How can we engage students’ interests and train them to meet their long-term goals?


As an undergraduate research assistant, I was inspired through the projects I was working on to pursue my doctoral studies. During that time, I received valuable mentorship and training that enabled my development as a researcher. I aspire for impact not only through the product of my research, but also to impact those around me throughout the research process. I think an important part of impact for researchers at any stage is to consider opportunities for training and mentorship of the next generation of researchers and leaders within the discipline.

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Mike Rogerson

PhD Candidate, University of Bath and Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Surrey

For me, impact is about the desire to change thinking inside and outside academia. There is more research being conducted today that at any time in history. And yet the competing tensions at the heart of public policy making and the profit imperative in corporate decision-making mean that even those organizations intending to be a positive influence in their environments often fall short or actually exacerbate the problems they’re attempting to address. Impactful research can engage with these issues to offer decision makers evidence that enables them to at least make better-informed choices.

Mike Rogerson is a PhD candidate at the University of Bath working with Professor Andrew Crane, Dr Johanne Grosvold and Dr Vivek Soundararajan on organizational responses to modern slavery legislation. He is also a part-time Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Centre for the Decentralised Digital Economy at the University of Surrey, where he works with Professor Glenn Parry on novel techniques for providing supply chain transparency.

Industry experience

Having managed labour rights issues while working in Libya, Mike was in Qatar when the Guardian newspaper broke stories of modern slavery in the Gulf state. Having continued his environmental work there, he was struck by the dissonance between rising calls for sustainability and the reality of what was happening to people as ‘responsible business’ gained traction. While the 1987 Brundtland Report defines sustainable development as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs,” the future has been the clear focus of sustainability efforts. This emphasis on “meeting the needs of the present” has been taken narrowly, however, often ignoring the plight of communities in which rare earth metals are mined, garments are produced, and indigenous peoples live.

Research for impact

Leaving industry for academia in 2018, Mike’s work has focused on how organizations with the power to significantly impact the labour rights of workers in supply chains are dealing with the UK Modern Slavery Act 2015 (MSA) and the forthcoming European Union legislation on mandatory environmental and human rights due diligence. To date, Mike has published work on how legislators failed to make MSA relevant to the circumstances and regulations public buyers are under, research which has led to conversations in the UK Home Office about addressing this flaw.

Mike has also studied the UK accounting profession’s response to MSA. As part of his PhD, Mike has found that the feedback loop between the largest professional services firms, their clients, and consumers, which can influence client action, has so far failed to force the profession to act in the role of trusted advisor it does on other, similar issues.

Mike’s other research projects have focused on offering visibility to firms in their supply chains through using blockchain to trace goods and materials and through adopting novel biomarkers in cocoa supply chains to establish the provenance of a cocoa crop. Enabling firms, auditors, and regulators to learn of agricultural products’ origin, for example, can allow for targeted investigations to be conducted on specific farms and plantations for environmental and human rights abuses.

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