Macquarie has a proud history of being a place for pioneers. One such pioneer was Jill McKinnon, who was one of the first women in Australia to hold a PhD in accounting and who was regarded for much of her academic career as a foremost authority in what was a heavily-male dominated field.
Sadly, Jill died in 2008 at age 55, after a battle with cancer. Professor Chris Patel (main picture) – whose own doctoral research was supervised by Jill and her husband, Emeritus Professor Graeme Harrison – recently made the long journey to Jill’s hometown in rural NSW to pay tribute to the woman that inspired so many Macquarie scholars to follow in her footsteps.
“Why Inverell?” was the question from the Glen Innes Visitor Information Centre staff. My answer: to visit the town where Jill McKinnon had been a local lass before leaving for Sydney to forge an outstanding career.
Over her illustrious career at Macquarie, Jill published some 50 research papers and earned international recognition for her work – in particular, her work on accounting and corporate reporting in Japan.
I made my pilgrimage to Inverell to honour Jill as a colleague and acknowledge the inspirational legacy she bequeathed to the generations of international accounting scholars that followed her.
I count myself lucky to be one those scholars, with Jill and Graeme supervising my own doctoral research. Her international research reputation is what drew me to Macquarie from my home country of Fiji, and Macquarie continues to attract outstanding accounting students from all over the world, thanks, in part, to the legacy of this lass from Inverell.
PhD research is at times a lonely and challenging journey, but I was fortunate to have Jill to lovingly guide and support me. I have since gone on to supervise 16 students from seven different countries, with the important lesson I learned from Jill always at front of mind – to listen with kindness.
Her memory lives on strongly at Macquarie.