Marina Purina: accounting isn’t supposed to be exciting, but it does help you to tell the story of a business

Marina Purina is an expert in accounting and taxation, and recently completed her PhD at the Prague University of Economics and Business. At NEWTON, she shares her expertise with second year students on the Basics of Accounting course. Here she explains why she loves teaching accounting, although she knows it isn’t everyone’s favourite subject…

So Marina, what subjects do you teach at NEWTON? 

This is actually my first year teaching at NEWTON. I’m teaching Basics of Accounting to second year students on the English programme.

And how is the semester going so far?

It’s going well! It’s the point in the semester where students are starting to get to grips with the basic concepts of accounting. I’ve never met a student who says “Wow, accounting is so interesting, I’m so excited by it!”... Actually, more often they say, “we’re not going to be accountants, so why do we have to study all this stuff?”. But, after several months you can see a change....  Often they still don’t like it, but they begin to understand how it works and why it’s important. For example, they see that financial analysis is useful to understanding the story of a business — if profits are okay, or if problems are around the corner. So it starts to feel less theoretical, and more useful, and that’s the moment in teaching that I love!

That’s great! So what’s next?

Now I’m excited about the second half of the semester, which is the most interesting part of the course. The first part is really about accounting, bookkeeping, debit side, credit side, and a bit of revenues, expenses. Once they are familiar with all these concepts, we can start exploring areas like inventory, taxes, consolidation and financial analysis, which are all really useful for understanding a business’ financial position. 

Are you involved with anything else at NEWTON?

Yes, I'm taking part in a mentoring programme. I’m going to be mentoring two students who are interested in entrepreneurship. One is interested in getting an internship with a prominent European company, so I’m going to help with that — finding the right company, working on a CV together, et cetera. I would have loved a mentor when I was starting out — it would have made life a million times easier! 

And are you doing any research at the moment?

I’m actually taking a bit of a break from research right now, after finishing my PhD! I studied at Prague University of Economics and Business (previously Prague Economic University), and finished in 2021. My research focussed on explaining how accounting and taxes are interconnected. We all know that taxes affect everything, from our everyday lives to accounting, but I was exploring if it works the other way around – if accounting can influence taxes. And it seems that yes, they do, and that in different cultures we see different links and different interactions between accounting and taxes. So right now I’m having a rest, but I am going to come back to this issue, although I need to wait a bit to receive fresh data. 

What’s the most exciting thing you’re working on right now?

Actually I’m working on something in collaboration with my husband. I guess it’s kind of research, so I’m not taking a total break! My husband works with neural networks – a type of machine learning that’s used in lots of different spheres, from targeting advertisements to investigating processes. So we began to wonder how they could be used in economics, especially in my sphere of interest – the intersection of accounting and taxes. It’s at a very early stage right now, but we’re thinking about it — how much data we need, how this data could be explored and, of course, all the technical IT stuff, which is his side of it! 

At NEWTON, the most exciting thing in the pipeline is the possibility of a new course in the future about corporate income tax in different countries. It will be quite complicated to prepare, but I feel enthusiastic about doing it. It would look at profit shifting, and all the complex schemes that big companies use to pay less taxes — offshore corporations and things like that. And I know that students are very interested in these topics, so I’m hoping we decide to go ahead with the course!

For someone who’s trying to take a bit of a break, that’s a lot of projects! What do you do in your spare time ro relax?

I like to spend time with my husband travelling and walking and I also love doing creative things by myself like embroidery, cross stitch, and reading books. Day to day, I start my morning with a big cup of coffee, and I also love cookies, cats — all of the nice, cosy things!