"I give students the tools to catch the fish"
"I want to encourage students’ critical thinking by fostering their independence and self-sufficiency rather than merely providing them with answers or solutions. In the context of teaching, I aim to empower students with the essential tools, allowing them to apply their learning and problem-solving abilities on their own", says Tylaite.
She earned a Bachelor’s degree at SSE in Riga, worked as a financial analyst for a couple of years, and later pursued a Master's program at SSE in Stockholm to delve deeper into the field of accounting and financial management.
"I did not apply to any other university, as SSE had and still has a very good reputation", says Tylaite.
However, she did not have the intention to become an academic. But one thing led to another. Milda Tylaite smiles as she recounts:
"When I started my Master studies, I had not planned on pursuing a PhD, but I was opinionated enough for my professors at SSE to encourage me to continue my academic career in accounting."
Teaching students to interpret the rules
Milda Tylaite conducts quantitative research within the areas of corporate financial reporting, taxation, audit, and corporate governance. In her current projects, she focuses on unique Swedish data on private firms, their governance, ownership, and monitoring structures. She also teaches introductory and advanced financial reporting.
"My ambition is to make my students become as intrigued by financial reporting as I am. From an academic perspective and in my research, I want to find out not only what financial statements say but also what they don’t say. It is very exciting, a little bit like working as a detective. I try to apply this also in teaching my students, so that they learn to appreciate the nuances of financial reporting. Rather than only learning the rules, I want my students to interpret the rules", says Tylaite.
For example, numbers are not always what they seem according to Tylaite.
"Firms can choose how to shape their numbers. There is so much discretion and subjectivity paving the way for decisions. Regulators constantly strive to make financial reporting as objective and informative as possible, but companies have their own agenda and interests which may not always align with the interests of the users of the financial statements. My students usually get surprised when I show them the degree of discretion in firms’ reporting choices, and the consequences of those choices", says Tylaite.
Received an award for pedagogic achievements
Milda Tylaite defended her PhD dissertation on the non-financial determinants of corporate tax outcomes in Swedish listed and private firms in December 2018. In 2019, she was awarded a Wallander scholarship for her dissertation. More recently, in September 2023, she was awarded for her work on redesigning the course “Current Issues in Financial Reporting”. She included new pedagogical components and more current issues, with a special focus on sustainability.
"The course I started teaching in was fantastic, but it needed revisions. Consequently, I did a makeover of the course. It was quite a risky move, but it played out very well", says Tylaite.
However, when the decision to award Milda Tylaite for her pedagogical achievements was made, it was not an easy job getting hold of her to let her know the good news.
"Someone was calling me on the phone repeatedly. As I was mentoring students I didn’t answer. Finally, Pär Åhlström (Vice President for Degree Programs & Educational Programs at SSE) wrote me an email asking how he could reach me to share the good news. That Pär couldn't reach me to tell me about the award was symptomatic of my priorities - the students always come first", says Tylaite.
The key to success
So why has Milda Tylaite been so successful in her career so far? What is the recipe?
"It is normal to want to conform – conformity is the core of a stable society - but sometimes it is important to understand when conforming doesn’t create value. Raising issues that no one brings to the table is what develops societies and makes a difference. I don’t say I always express my opinions and not all my ideas are fantastic. But to mention an example where I truly believe that I made a difference was when I initiated the program under which we waived tuition fees for Ukrainian citizens. They now have the opportunity to apply for admission to any of SSE´s Master programs with the 2024 intake, and if accepted, they will be exempt from tuition fees", says Tylaite.
She also stresses the importance of international students and embracing the female perspective.
"My path to success stems from the fact that I, as a woman and an international student, have other perspectives to share. We don’t yet fully walk the talk of bringing all unique perspectives together, but they are extremely important, and we are worse off if these perspectives are not embraced", says Tylaite.
According to Tylaite, there is a need to integrate the international dimension into financial programs and to have more and louder female voices in these fields. One way to achieve this is for SSE to become even more value driven.
"Students appreciate and expect schools to have values and to act accordingly. In other words, the goals of the school must align with their own values", emphasizes Tylaite.
Looking ahead, she envisions making a difference both for the students and in her research findings.
"I never planned to become an academic, but I am very happy that I did. Teaching and research are clearly my passions that I can’t live without", says Tylaite.
The SSE Gender Equality Fund contributed significantly to making the creation of the images featuring Milda Tylaite a reality.