A Moment With Our Faculty - Sophia Duffy, Esq., CPA


By: Leah Selekman and Elizabeth Rohr, CLU®, ChFC®

Welcome to Sophia Duffy, a new faculty member at The American College! Sophia was raised in South Jersey and currently resides in the northwest suburbs of Philadelphia with her family. She has received a B.S. in Accounting from Rutgers University as well as a Juris Doctorate from Temple University and is a practicing attorney in Pennsylvania. Interestingly, Sophia began her career as an Internal Auditor for major corporations in the Philadelphia area, including PricewaterhouseCoopers, Aramark, and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

These audits were focused on Sarbanes Oxley requirements, fraud detection and prevention, and legal compliance. However, Sophia entered the accounting field shortly after the Enron debacle came to light, when ethics first became a major topic for accounting discussions. Over the years, Sophia has seen ethics move from the periphery of corporate values to the forefront, as corporations have become more focused on integrating ethics into daily operational processes.

At The College, Sophia will be instructing the following courses: GS 803 – Financial Statements and Business Valuation Analysis, HS 343 - Compensation and Personnel Management, and GS 389 - Human Resource Management, among others. In addition, she will be assisting Professor Tacchino with courses related to the new health care laws. Her in-depth understanding of the law, financial statements and human resources will help students learn to make better, more informed business decisions. As both accounting and human resources are areas ripe for ethical discussions, Sophia is looking forward to incorporating the topic of ethics into all of her courses at The College, in addition to sharing her knowledge with thousands of financial  services industry professionals over the years.

When asked how she perceives the difference between compliance and ethics, Sophia stated that she viewed compliance as an institution’s overall adherence to legal regulations and the employees’ adherence to formal policies and procedures of the institution. Ethics is actually a broader idea that describes how we make decisions on a daily basis. Ethics goes beyond simply ensuring that the organization follows the rules, because it applies to all decisions, even those that aren’t governed by laws or policies.

For example, if a Purchasing Manager awards a vendor contract to a family member, even though other vendors’ bids were cheaper, this transaction is not illegal, but is highly unethical. This illustration also highlights why ethics can be so difficult to manage in a corporate setting. What a person considers “ethical behavior” is largely based on what that person’s moral code and values are. This can vary widely among different people. While the Purchasing Manager may have been acting unethically against the corporation, she may place high value on helping family members and therefore feel as if her actions were not unethical. Ethics should be a factor in all decisions made within an organization.

Sophia is very familiar with the values espoused in The Professional Pledge and The Eight Canons, which each student earning a designation from The College must adhere to. In some cases, graduating students also recite the Pledge when they attend the bi-annual Knowledge Summit/graduation ceremony held by The College. As a Certified Public Accountant, Sophia is bound by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants’ Code of Professional Ethics, and as an attorney, she is also bound by the state of Pennsylvania’s Code of Professional Conduct. Both Codes require that you conduct yourself with integrity at all times, which is exactly what Sophia strives to do in her professional as well as her personal life.

Sophia can be reached directly via email at: sophia.duffy@theamericancollege.edu or 610-526-1255.