Alumnus Robert Wilbanks earned his MBA at UAB in 1989 and now returns to his alma mater to teach accounting. A licensed CPA in Tennessee, Instructor Wilbanks has worked in both public accounting (auditing) and in the private sector. Having worked with companies involved in the banking, fast food, manufacturing and service industries, he brings a wealth of experience into the classroom.
For the past six years he has taught financial accounting and managerial accounting at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, all while continuing to work as the comptroller of a water company. Instructor Wilbanks is currently pursuing a doctorate degree in business administration with a concentration in accounting at Kennesaw State University. He is particularly interested in auditing and corporate governance research. And Cee Lo Green.
Q: You are a UAB MBA alumnus. What are you looking forward to most about being back at UAB?
A: You can't help but look at UAB's development and say "Wow!" The University has really begun to receive the type of recognition that I always thought that it deserved. For me, it is validating to be able to come back and to be an example of someone who was able to achieve a level of success because of their educational experience at UAB.
Q: What do you do when you’re not teaching class?
A: Actually, I am currently working on my doctorate degree at Kennesaw State University so most of my free time is spent reading and writing. I have had a lifelong goal of obtaining a terminal degree.
Q: What’s getting heavy rotation right now on your iPod?
A: My music tastes are all over the map, but recently I found that I like listening to classical music, especially when I am studying. I am also spending a lot of quality time with Cee Lo Green.
Q: What lesson from your work in public accounting or in the private sector will you impart in the classroom?
A: I like to show the real world applications of what I teach in class. It makes the class more interesting and the material more accessible to students. I also like to emphasize the benefits or developing a good work ethic. I do not know many good accountants who are lazy. Learn to take care of business first and to play later.
Q: What important skill should accounting students master before graduating?
A: In my opinion, it is important that students understand the importance of social and communication skills. The most successful accountants that I have met socialize personally and professionally with others in the accounting profession or with industry leaders through various organizations. These accountants are not the type of people who stare down at their shoes when asked a question. You have to be able to look someone in the eyes and demonstrate that you are both knowledgeable and credible. My general career advice to accounting students is to try to differentiate yourself from others, always play to your strengths and work to improve upon your weaknesses.