Interview by Ahsan Fraz (MBA candidate)
Professor Brendan McSweeney teaches at the School of Management, Royal Holloway University of London. He completed his PhD in accounting at the London School of Economics. Before opting for a career as an educator, he worked in various capacities in retail banking and mergers and acquisitions (Bank of Ireland), in the Irish Tourist Board and in the Irish Trade Union Congress. Before joining Royal Holloway University of London in 2004, he had worked as a researcher in Glasgow University; lecturer/senior lecturer at Warwick Business School and professor at the University of Essex. Prior to his academic career he was responsible for research at the Chartered Association of Certified Accountants. His work was published in a variety of accounting and wider management journals including: Accounting, Organizations & Society, Journal of International Business Studies, Organization Studies, and the Political Quarterly. He also authored/co-authored/edited a number of books and book chapters about accounting, management and organisational studies. His work is widely cited by many academics and non-academics. Currently, he is also a member of the advisory board of YKK’s Europe Middle-East and Africa division. He has a keen interest in Irish and British history. Professor McSweeney teaches financial analysis to MBA class. I sat with him for a short interview which is given below:
I: What would you do if you were not a professor?
I like to help people. I think that if I were not a professor I would be a doctor. (But you are already a doctor!). O yes, but I mean a medical one!
I: What does international students add to the class?
I would say that they challenge UK-centricity. They bring diverse views and knowledge from all over the world. They pose a challenge to the teachers as well and we also learn from them. People are not identical and everybody has its own background. That diversity of backgrounds and experiences provides opportunity to learn new things and ideas.
I: What will be the consequences of more stringent visa policies for international students?
The biggest negative message to the world is that the UK doesn’t like foreigners. The recent referendum vote supporting the UK’s exit from the European Union (Brexit) has reinforced this message. It was not like this before. UK was a welcoming place for everybody, now it appears to be more unwelcoming. UK universities unanimously opposed Brexit and continue to be strongly committed to internationalism But there is a danger that if the ‘Little England’ zealots continue to control the UK’s government, more students will opt for universities in other countries like Australia and Canada. In addition to the financial loss this would create, the UK would also suffer the loss of the cultural contributions these non-UK students bring. The reasons for the Brexit victory are very complex. They include: extraordinarly dishonest propaganda; decline in income and working conditions for many (falsely blamed on the EU) since the 2007/8 crash – whilst bankers continue to prosper; one million people on zero-hours contracts; 3 million tax-paying EU residents in the UK were not allowed vote; and xenophobic nostalgia for the lost British Empire which even a significant number of affluent middle-class foolishly think can be restored. However, I’m reasonably optimistic. Now that negotiations with the EU 27 are beginning, I think the reality that life outside the EU would be suicidal will become increasingly obvious except to a hard-core of right and left-wing fanatics.
I: Who inspires you the most?
My 8 years old granddaughter inspires me the most with her curiosity and liveliness.
I: How often do you travel?
I travel a lot for both work and leisure. I have been to many countries but all above the equator. I like visiting New York for short time periods because it gives me energy. Also, I like the sophisticated engagement with life in France and Italy where I always enjoy their food, culture, language, manners, and so forth.
I: Last question, what are you doing these days except teaching?
I am writing some articles, working on a book proposal, spending time with my family, and looking after my two gardens.