Building Diversity in Business and Academia

Oct. 29, 2015

Lincoln Memorial

Pablo Machado, a fifth year doctoral student in accounting at the Eller College, has been selected to serve on the national, ten-member PhD Project Committee for Hispanic Excellence.

The PhD Project, which recruits under-represented minority professionals from business into doctoral programs in all business disciplines, is a recipient of funding from the White House Initiative on Hispanic Excellence in Education. The PhD Project is one of 150 public and private sector organizations that answered the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics’ 25th anniversary call to action. This month, President Obama announced these Commitments to Action, with a collective investment of nearly $340 million, which will build on and accelerate federal, state, and local investments in high-quality education, from cradle-to-career, for the nation’s Latino community.


Pablo Machado
Pablo Machado, PhD in Accounting

As part of its Commitment to Action, The PhD Project will use its network of over 1,600 minority business faculty and doctoral students, including 423 Hispanic-American members, to enhance outreach to Hispanic-American students. In his role on the PhD Project Committee for Hispanic Excellence, Machado will work to formally recruit Hispanic-American business professors to serve as mentors to these students, with the purpose of facilitating their successful completion of their undergraduate and graduate degrees.

Machado credits The PhD Project with providing a supportive network when he began his doctoral studies five years ago. “As an undergraduate, I started in computer engineering, but it didn’t work out for me,” he said. He left school and went into law enforcement. When his wife enrolled in veterinary school at Colorado State, Machado entered the university’s accounting program. After completing his undergraduate and master’s degrees, he joined PricewaterhouseCoopers.

“During the downturn, I was laid off, so I started my own accounting firm,” he said. “Around the same time, I began teaching at a community college in Aurora, CO, and I really enjoyed the experience.” Teaching, he said, offered the same kind of tangible personal return that he had experienced as a police officer: “You’re able to make a difference in someone’s life.”

He continues to connect with members of the PhD Project during the annual American Accounting Association conference. “It is a great way to meet other doctoral students and get introductions to faculty,” he said. “The idea is that you can meet potential coauthors and make connections as you prepare to go on the job market.”

Research demonstrates that minority students perform better in classes taught by minority faculty. “A recent Pew Research poll shows that only 15 percent of Hispanics age 25-29 hold bachelor’s degrees,” Machado added. “The PhD Project recognizes that diversifying faculty attracts more minorities to study business, and better prepares all students to function in a diverse workforce.”

Faculty mentors can make a significant difference in students’ lives. “One of the most-cited reasons that Hispanic students decide not to attend college is that they need to support their families,” Machado said. “A mentor can show students that even though dropping out offers short-term benefits to the family, staying will help to a greater extent in the long term.”

Lisa Ordóñez, Eller College vice dean and professor of management and organizations, is an invited speaker at The PhD Project’s annual conference this fall. “I’ll be discussing what life is like as a doctoral student, a faculty member, and an administrator,” she said. “A doctoral program is a significant investment of time, and it’s helpful for anyone considering a career in academia to understand what professional life will look like.”

Eller has sent representatives to The PhD Project conference for the past 20 years to promote its doctoral programs to diverse applicants. Ordóñez, Machado, and doctoral student in management and organizations Tomás Martínez will all attend this year.

The PhD Project, a 501(c) (3) organization that the KPMG Foundation initiated in 1994, recruits under-represented minority professionals from business into doctoral programs in all business disciplines. Since its inception, The PhD Project has been responsible for the increase in the number of minority business professors from 294 to 1,299. Further, 309 minorities are currently enrolled in doctoral programs, and will take a place at the front of the classroom over the next few years. The Project attacks the root cause of minority under-representation in corporate jobs: historically, very few minority college students study business as an entrée to a corporate career.

“We are very proud to be chosen as one of the Commitments to Action. White House data projects that there will be 3.9 million Hispanic students pursuing Bachelor’s degrees by the year 2023,” said Bernard J. Milano, President of The PhD Project and the KPMG Foundation, co-founder and lead funder of The PhD Project. “It is of vital importance for collaborations such as these to aid students and create more opportunities for them to succeed.”

Lincoln Memorial photo by Mark Thomas, courtesy Pixabay.