The relevance of environmental costs on financing decisions

Research student spotlight | Lillian Lei Lian Lee, PhD Accounting and Finance


Lillian Lei Lian Lee

Lillian is a second year Accounting and Finance PhD student. She is a Chartered Accountant qualified with the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), with over 18 years of work experience in business operations, consulting, assurance, governance, risks and internal controls with multinational companies in an international environment. Lillian holds an MSc in Accounting and Finance from LBU where her dissertation focused on financing strategy in the global floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) industry, a sub-segment of the upstream petroleum industry.

  • PhD title: Implications of environmental liabilities on borrowers’ and lenders’ financing decisions: An international cross-industries investigation
  • Supervisors: Dr Anup Chowdhury and Dr Moade Shubita

Tell us a bit about yourself and your path into your PhD program

Having worked in different capacities in various industries, I developed a strong interest in capital markets and understanding how economic factors influence a company’s investment decisions, as well as the techniques used in raising capital internationally.

A PhD in accounting and finance enables me to objectively analyse the various corporate financing situations, reasons and resolutions that I have observed over the years but have never had the luxury to explore. Furthermore, I have always enjoyed working with and analysing data, so a PhD will help me consolidate my work experience while also further developing my analytical skills and critical-thinking mindset.

Why did you choose Leeds Beckett?

I was first drawn to Leeds Beckett to pursue an MSc in management and finance by its reputation of excellence, personalised teaching methods, diversity (student mix of various age ranges and experiences), the extensive LBU alumni network and corporate connections. After completing my MSc, I found myself drawn more into academia and having experienced what the university has to offer, it was an easy decision to continue my PhD journey. 

Leeds Business School has a strong faculty, and its location in the heart of Leeds allows the School to constantly combine practice and academia, making it more relevant to the real world. This was a perfect fit for my experience and plans to transition from industry to academia. Furthermore, Leeds has been identified as one of the UK’s green finance research hubs, which aligns with my research interests in the environment and finance.

Aside from academics, studying at Leeds Beckett presented me with access to the social side of life, including music, arts, theatre and food events in Leeds and the surrounding Yorkshire area.

What is your research about and what you makes you passionate about it?

With the exponential focus on the environment and circular economy, combined with changing investment expectations in the capital markets, businesses are finding value delivery more complex and challenging. This is due to limited access to financing, limited / restricted insurance coverage, higher shareholder returns expectations leading to higher financing costs, and higher operational inputs – and, as a result, a negative impact on profitability and continuity.

Because of my interest in environmental conservation and experience in the oil and gas industry, I decided to focus my research on environmental and socially responsible financing. My research focuses on environmental factors and their impact on corporate financing decisions, as well as their significance to the international capital market.

It is also envisaged that a broader understanding would help executives to design strategic sustainability management policies that best fit their organisation’s needs, in order to increase firm value, maintain competitiveness and build resilience, and simultaneously, promote efficient capital allocation and facilitate the transition to a more sustainable global economy.

How have you applied what you've learned from your work at Leeds Business School?

I am still in the early stages of my PhD programme, but I hope to gain expertise in the field of green finance over time. In the future, I plan to use everything I have learned to conduct research and analysis, including maintaining a passion for research, continuous learning and being open to new ideas.

What has been your favourite experience at Leeds Beckett? How would you reflect on your time as a postgraduate researcher at Leeds Beckett?

Because of the various courses and seminars offered by and outside of Leeds Beckett, the research environment at the Business School is highly stimulating. These activities have provided me with exposure to a variety of subject areas, as well as the opportunity to learn new skills and network with my peers.

I especially enjoy discussions with my supervisors, who are both approachable and accommodating. Furthermore, I appreciate their patience and guidance throughout my research, as well as their trust in me to complete my work independently.

interested in research?

the graduate school

If research is your thing, then you’re in the right place. We have a growing research profile within our region as well as nationally and internationally. If you decide to study for a research degree with us you'll join a thriving academic community in an inspiring and supportive environment.

Clock tower at Leeds Town Hall
Image of a male student sat down

More Stories

All stories