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Alumni Spotlight: Diana Troik

Diana Troik

When Diana Troik finished her doctorate at Michigan in the early ‘70s, the job market had disappeared. “It impacted a lot of people at that time. I taught part-time for a year or two but I had been living in Los Angeles and really enjoyed it there. There were a lot of schools in Southern California and suddenly they weren’t hiring. I ended up actually going into a totally different field.”

With a doctoral degree in her pocket, Diana realized she had many cross-over skills. She took a position as a postdoctoral scholar at UCLA in Accounting and Finance. “At that time, accounting was one of the few areas where they couldn’t get enough people to teach.” Her experience at UCLA was wonderful, she says, “They treated me like visiting faculty. In my second year there, I got a job teaching one course - beginning accounting.” She ultimately got a job at Loyola Marymount University as an Assistant Professor of Accounting and later as Associate Professor and also taught in the M.B.A. program.

Eventually she linked her two fields by doing research in accounting history, starting that process at a time when accountants were realizing that accounting had a past. She remained in that role for over a decade and in the meantime, with a partner, started a small consulting firm on the side. “In ‘88 I decided that work was more varied and interesting to me than teaching accounting.” At her management consulting firm she focused her efforts on strategic planning, organizational assessment, executive coaching, and the administration of her own firm, retiring in 2009. “It was demanding but very fascinating work,” she says.

Of her U-M experience, she says, “ It gave me some basic research and analytical skills that really can be played out in a variety of different types of situations, and a historical perspective in terms of looking at what’s going on in the world - a lens of perception, if you will. So many of my classes were very enjoyable and I enjoyed the research. I found myself sometimes sitting with old rare books in the library and turning pages in a book that went back several hundred years.”

Still, the path could have been easier for Diana. She remarks, “I wish I had known what the impact of the job market would have been. It was pretty devastating, and it all happened within a couple of years. I don’t think when you start a doctoral program you anticipate that potential shift. Now, I would very carefully investigate that. I would also explore what the options might be, look more broadly than simply academia. “

“Looking back, my advice for graduate students today is that flexibility is absolutely critical. When I first thought of doing something like accounting, it was so far from what I had done, I had to remind myself that I do have these skills, now let’s see how I can apply them. There may be opportunities for things you had never considered.”

Diana is still actively involved with Rackham. “I feel it is important to support graduate students because unlike undergraduates, where many students are often supported by family, graduate students are usually on their own financially. They are moving to a completely new environment, and graduate school is a big commitment of time and finances when you do that. Whatever I can do to help make that a better situation is really important.”

In her retirement, Diana remains in pursuit of scholarly achievement. She takes courses at the Osher LIfelong Learning Institute at California State University, Channel Islands, which offers six or eight week, University-level courses to those over 50. “I enjoy university-level courses with no exams or papers. The discussions are just amazing, partially because they are with people who have experienced life. I’ve taken classes in history, religion, biochemistry, philosophy, literature, psychology - it runs the gamut. Continuing to learn in this manner is a great thing in terms of keeping your mind going and fostering social interactions.” She also uses her consulting skills to help in developing the Osher Institute by serving on the Steering Committee of that organization. She passes on classes in European History, having had so many of them as a doctoral student at U-M. Those courses, she could certainly teach!