Early hours Skype date with fate

Daniel Tulloch, a University of Oxford sustainable finance programme research associate, hands in...
Daniel Tulloch, a University of Oxford sustainable finance programme research associate, hands in his PhD thesis at the University of Otago last year. Photos supplied.
University of Otago PhD graduate Daniel Tulloch at a recent event at Oxford University.
University of Otago PhD graduate Daniel Tulloch at a recent event at Oxford University.

One winter morning last year University of Otago graduate Daniel Tulloch donned a suit for a Skype interview with the University of Oxford.

"It was 1am, I had my notes ready and it went really well.''

By 5am the department of accountancy and finance PhD student had a job as a research associate in Oxford's sustainable finance programme.

It was the first and only graduate interview the PhD student did.

"I just got into the routine of going to websites a couple of times a week, but all my applications up to that point got knocked back or ignored.

"Then I saw the Oxford ad.

"They wanted someone with a finance or economics PhD that had an interest in energy utilities ...

"That is exactly my field ...

"I jumped straight out of bed when I got that email and rang my parents. They were so excited.''

Born in the United Kingdom, he completed a bachelor's degree (with honours) in psychosocial sciences and a science master's in international accounting and financial management at the University of East Anglia (UEA) in Norwich, England.

He also began a PhD on the risk factors in energy utility returns at UEA under the supervision of Dr Ivan Diaz-Rainey.

However, in 2013, Dr Diaz-Rainey was offered a job as a senior lecturer in the University of Otago's department of accountancy and finance, an offer which changed everything.

"I was a year into my PhD and Ivan negotiated me into joining him at Otago.

"Six months after he started at Otago I arrived and all I really knew about it was rugby, the clocktower building and the strength of the finance department.''

However, Dr Diaz-Rainey says moving his PhD student to the other side of the world wasn't easy.

"UEA didn't want to lose him.

"I felt a real responsibility for him because I dragged him over here.''

He says his former student quickly "made a real impact'' on the department.

"There are more technically skilled people in the department and they struggle to find jobs.

"But what he was doing was so relevant; where he is working is a really emerging field.

"What he had was an amazing work ethic as well.''

Daniel was also supervised by Associate Prof Inguruwatt Premachandra and dean and pro-vice-chancellor of the Otago Business School and division of commerce Prof George Benwell.

While still a student himself Daniel began lecturing on a portfolio theory and investment decisions course, and in 2013 he was nominated for the University of Otago Students' Association's inclusiveness in teaching award.

However, most significant during his time at Otago was the publication of a chapter by him in the Cambridge Handbook of Institutional Investment and Fiduciary Duty, a book looking at the dynamics that drive the emphasis on short-term investment returns, and which has a foreword by Al Gore.

At Oxford his work as a research assistant on the sustainable finance programme involves working to understand what is required to redirect capital into investments aligned with global environmental sustainability imperatives.

He works closely with market and governmental policymakers, but says he looks at climate change impartially.

"I was born in 1986 and every summer of my life has been the hottest of my life.

"Global sustainability is an important sector to me, but I have always approached it from an impartial business perspective.''

In the six months he has been at Oxford he has also begun to establish an early-career research network.

"What I hope this will do is bring specialists together to get them to see each other's disciplines and establish a more holistic view to address climate change.''

At present he conducts his own research in the evenings.

His works-in-progress include current and future challenges facing the EU energy system, examining asset stranding in various industries, sustainability in palm oil, and developing asset pricing models for the EU energy sector.

He still works closely with his former colleagues at the University of Otago.

The Energy Journal recently accepted a paper, "The Impact of Liberalisation and Environmental Policy on the Financial Returns of European Energy Utilities'', for publication, co-authored by Daniel and his former supervisors, Dr Diaz-Rainey and Associate Prof I. M. Premachandra.

"I don't think I would have this job without the department's reputation.

"Oxford definitely knows about the department at Otago.

"And the first thing that I did when I arrived here [in Oxford] was arrange for a recent publication, co-authored by the head of department from Otago [Prof David Lont], to be presented in the department's research network.

Daniel is the first PhD student from the accounting and finance department to get a job at the University of Oxford, an achievement he feels comes with responsibility.

"I wear my Otago University scarf, tie and cufflinks with pride.

"Otago handed me an opportunity to travel somewhere new to a good finance department and really gain new life experience.

"I am really really glad I got that opportunity.''


At a glance 
•Degree, qualifications:

2006-09, BSc (Hons) in psychosocial sciences/University of East Anglia; 2009-10, MSc (distinction) in international accounting & financial management/University of East Anglia ; 2010-12, began a PhD in finance at University of East Anglia; 2013-16, PhD in finance/department of accountancy and finance, University of Otago.

Thesis title:
‘‘The Impact of Risk Factors and Regulatory Change in the Returns of European Energy Utilities''.

Career path:
‘‘Over the next five years, I'd like to secure a research grant to develop my research addressing current and future challenges in the energy sector.

‘‘During this time, I will also continue my engagement with the professional community as it's crucial to understanding the challenges faced at the business level and defining the business case for the energy transition towards renewables.

‘‘Five years and beyond, I hope to have an established research profile and to supervise PhD students with an interest in energy finance.''



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