An Officer and a Gentleman with Dr. Peter Lohrey
Dr. Peter Lohrey is the Director of Forensic, Valuation, and Litigation Support Services at Prager Metis CPAs. He has over 35 years of forensic accounting and valuation experience, and has held a number of other positions that include flying planes in the Navy and providing expert witness testimony in the courtroom.
Dr. Lohrey attended the University of Delaware before receiving his master’s degree in Finance from Loyola University of Maryland. He then went on to earn his doctoral degree in Accounting and Finance from George Washington University – School of Business. In his free time, Dr. Lohrey also works as an Assistant Professor of Accounting at Montclair State University.
Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:
- Dr. Peter Lohrey shares how he first met and began collaborating with Dr. Strickland
- Dr. Lohrey discusses his career path before earning his doctoral degree
- The valuable lesson Dr. Lohrey learned while working for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
- Dr. Lohrey shares a story about his experience as an expert on a high-profile lawsuit
- When to use the term “Dr.” to your advantage—and when to let your knowledge speak for itself
- A meaningful piece of advice that Dr. Lohrey received from one of the mentors on his dissertation committee
In this episode…
The majority of doctoral students tend to follow the traditional academic path to obtain their degrees: They go to school, complete their dissertations, and then begin their careers. However, there are also those who follow a more unconventional path, such as Dr. Peter Lohrey from Prager Metis CPAs.
Dr. Lohrey is a prime example of an unconventional doctoral student. After he was recruited to play lacrosse at West Point, Dr. Lohrey went on to become a pilot in the Navy and a liaison officer to the U.S. Senate on Capitol Hill—all before earning his doctoral degree.
Tune in to this episode of An Unconventional Life as Dr. Russell Strickland interviews Dr. Peter Lohrey from Prager Metis CPAs about his wide-ranging accomplishments and what led him to seek out Dr. Strickland’s help. Discover insights into the importance of effective communication with your dissertation committee, and the value of humility once you’ve earned the coveted title, “Dr.”
Resources Mentioned in this episode
Sponsor for this episode…
This episode is brought to you by Dissertation Done, America’s #1 authority in dissertation completion for working professionals.
Founded by Dr. Russell Strickland, Dissertation Done serves people in two ways:
- If you’re struggling with your dissertation, getting ready to start your dissertation, or just plain wanting to get your dissertation done as soon as possible, go to www.dissertationdone.com/done and Let’s Get Your Dissertation Done!
- If you’re busy living your Unconventional Life and have a message that you want to share, maybe you should join our Expand Your Authority Program to become a published author. Go to www.dissertationdone.com/book and let me know that you’d like to talk about Expanding Your Authority.
Disclaimer: This transcript is here for your reading convenience. It was created by machines and may (a-hem) contain some errors. If you email us about these errors, the machines will undoubtedly find out. I hope they won’t get angry.
Welcome to An Unconventional Life, a podcast where we share stories about the crazy one percenters out there, who earned their doctoral degrees and then went on to use them in crazy, cool, unique and unconventional ways. Here’s your host astrophysicist and teacher, author, dissertation coach and more. Dr. Russell Strickland.
Dr. Russell Strickland 0:28
Hello, this is Dr. Russell Strickland, your host of An Unconventional Life Podcast where I feature stories from the unconventional 1% who not only earned their doctoral degrees, but went on to leverage them in strange, exciting, cool and unconventional ways throughout their lives in their careers. Today I have with me, Dr. Peter Lohrey. Dr. Lohrey has got quite the background and we’re going to get into it today. But I mean wide ranging from working as a chief economist from working in corporate finance And moving on into the Navy. And we talked a little bit about before we went on the air here today about his work is becoming a pilot and dealing with submarines. And I hope we’ll get into that a little bit today because that was really cool and interesting. We’ve, I’ve known Dr. Lohrey for about a year now. And still we haven’t depth. We haven’t plumbed the depths of all these stories yet. So I’m really excited about this one today. Of course, went on to get his PhD in, in accounting, has gone on to do teaching as well as accounting work, including working as an expert witness in forensic accounting, actually going on, you know, serving in in the courtroom. Just I’ll stop telling the story because I want him to, but, but Dr. Lohrey, thank you so much for joining us today and welcome.
Dr. Peter Lohrey 1:53
Thank you Russell you’ve been you’ve been the lifeline for me in various ways. So the the admiration goes both ways.
Dr. Russell Strickland 2:00
Really appreciate that actually, it kind of ties into our sponsor message for today. again today the the podcast is brought to you by Dissertation Done and at Dissertation Done we help students, a working adult professionals to get through the doctoral degree program to get their dissertations done, and to graduate sooner than they ever would have thought possible. We work primarily with students who are in the the what I call the professional social sciences, things like nursing business. Accounting, accounting, I say because Dr. Lohrey’s here, but we do work with folks in accounting. The other big ones are psychology and education. And basically, if you’re going to study what amounts to people in a data driven way, then our process is set up just for you. So if you’re working on your dissertation, you feel like you’re not getting stuck, or you just know the value of having a coach and you want to move forward, reach out to us at www.dissertationdone.com And in fact, that’s kind of how you and I met, right. Dr. Lohrey?
Dr. Peter Lohrey 2:55
It most certainly is actually as you were mentioning, you know, most of The people that that are your target audience and that you help are working professionals. So I came to know Dr. Strickland through a colleague who I used to work with. Matt Crane used to work with me at RSM, McGladrey and Matt and I have a lot of respect for each other. We worked together for a couple of years. Things change, but we’ve kept in touch. And Matt decided he wanted to pursue his PhD, or in his case, it’s a DBA. You know, don’t get too technical. And I was fortunate because he kept in touch with me, I gave him some ideas of what he was going to go through and what it was like. And then as he got to the dissertation stage, I had not known you know, the specifics, but as we were talking periodically, he says, Oh, no, I got this guy. Dr. Strickland, he’s great. You know, he’s helping me out with with quantum pushing my numbers around, and this and this and that, and I said, Matt, that’s the best thing you could have done because for me personally, I took a pool probably 14 months to Do my dissertation and I didn’t have anyone like Dr. Strickland. So, I mean, I would grind and grind and grind and hit a patch and just hit a cold spell and then keep grinding and grinding and grinding. And And honestly, you know, if I had someone like Dr. Strickland, I probably would have gotten my dissertation completed or done, you know, eight months or nine months, but you know, went 14 months. So it is what it is. And hindsight is always 2020. So then, you know, having heard about Dr. Strickland, and then I ran into some things because I’m, I’m doing a lot of things at once is we’ll probably get into but I had certain bars that I had to hit in terms of pursuing tenure. And one of the bars that they set for me was Hey, you need to do a solo publication in a in a, you know, fairly high level, peer reviewed journal. So, you know, I had the idea and things like that I had had the data and but you know, I’ll be the first to tell you, I know my own weaknesses and I want to keep working on them because there’s always something we can all try to get better at. So the fun part was, there’s fun and hard. It might sound ironic. But the fun part was, as he first started working with Dr. Strickland, you know, I’m sitting there trying to say, Hey, this is what we’re trying to do. And he comes at it from his view. And eventually, we kind of jelled. And so it really became a successful effort and the outcome was I have a paper that’s accepted in a fairly well respected peer reviewed journal called the Journal of Forensic Accounting Research. And so it was a win win, even though I’m the sole author I I acknowledge Dr. Strickland knows thank you and things like that. But I can tell you right now, I would not have had a snowball’s chance and you know where without without his help, so I enjoy talking with Dr. Strickland. I’m hoping in the future that that if he’s willing to take me on, again as a client on other things I’ll most certainly be trying to use utilize Dr. Strickland Because honestly it makes me better he has that that patience and tolerance and and as many of you who have been working with Dr. Strickland might find out if you aren’t already is you get into a certain group, you begin to understand each other. And then at certain points, you’re kind of talking to each other and taking the words out of one another’s mouths, so to speak. So that’s part of the fun, you know, it’s hard work, but it’s part of the fun. And, you know, to Dr. Strickland’s credit, you know, there’s times because you have a lot of pressure on you. He’s got time pressure on him. And so it’s kind of like, okay, let’s see if we can get out. But he’s always work around the clock. I’ve seen him do stuff early in the morning and things like that. So I can’t say enough about how, how good it is to work with Dr. Strickland. And that’s a lot of the reason why, you know, I’m so pleased at the outcome. And as I said, again, I would not have happened without his help, so I can’t thank Dr. Strickland enough.
Dr. Russell Strickland 6:56
Well, thank you for that. Dr. Lohrey, and he’s very, very modest. That’s a tremendous accomplishment to be able to get published. Obviously here, he sounds kind of like a conventional guy. And here we are on An Unconventional Life Podcast. But I want to go back into your story and pivot back to before you got your degree because you came to that a little later in life, which is fairly typical for a lot of students that I work with that. So tell me a little bit about what you were doing before you decided to get your doctoral degree because there was a lot of stuff going on.
Dr. Peter Lohrey 7:26
I’ve had a lot of turns in my, my journey. I was a young, young, adventurous guy grew up in a family of five boys back in the 70s, and I was the middle and my father was a college wrestling coach. So in our family, it was sports and school sports in school. I had brothers who played college sports at University of Pennsylvania, University of Virginia, and I was recruited to play lacrosse at West Point, United States Military Academy. So I started out my journey at West Point, and quite honestly, I’d always wanted to fly and I thought, Jesus This is my ticket to do that, but I got up there, a bit older as Dr. Strickland said, and I went through what’s called beast barracks and beast barracks is the summer training before you actually are officially accepted into the Corps of Cadets. And I went through beast barracks, and all the time we’re eating sea rations. We’re out in the field, climbing mountains, getting bit by mosquitoes. It’s just a horrible existence. But that’s part of the army. And that’s just the way they handle
Dr. Russell Strickland 8:26
the recruitment posters, right? No,
Dr. Peter Lohrey 8:30
not at all. And I learned early on I said to myself, you know what, this is crazy. I’m on my grunt feet being a grunt and you know, all these different training exercises and there’s these snipers in the trees and they’re taking potshots at you and the light goes off. I was 17 at the time. And I’m like, I don’t want to get picked off by shell and just lay on my belly and bleed to death. And I’ve been starving. I’ve been hungry and now I’m going to bleed out as they say and bleed to death. I said I want to be like the guys above in the helicopter going overhead. Those guys they got it made. have warm breakfast this morning. They slept a bump last night. And you know what if they take it they go out they take a side wonder of their engine intake and he never feel so lonely do million pieces. I’ve had conversations with Dr. Strickland about there’s no good way to die. So I’m at the School of just below me. I don’t know what happened. Just boom, get it over with. So time went by and the assistant lacrosse coach at West Point, moved on to become the head lacrosse coach at the University of Delaware. So I went to University of Delaware I had financial aid and I was not a serious student. I’ve she’s I think I graduated with a whopping 2.3 GPA was busy. You didn’t make it out. Yeah. I was busy playing lacross. I lived in a fraternity house. I just was. I don’t know if it’s typical, but it’s a 19, 20 year old young guy. I was just not focused on my studies. And as my father used to say, well, you should got to see and seeds for consistency. But anyway, so we squeaked out through there, but but I still So I had this yearning or this itch, and I wanted to become a pilot. So one of my fraternity brothers who was a year ahead of me went into the Naval Aviation program, which I had known nothing about. So I got interested in it during the spring of my senior year of college a little bit late there, but nevertheless, and it turns out my grades just were not they work and it wouldn’t even look at you. You had to have at least a three Oh, GPA in certain minimum things. So I reacted and I got an assistant, a graduate assistant coaching job at Loyola University in Maryland, and went to get my MBA and I did it in 14 months and I think I came out with a 3.4 or 3.5 GPA because I decided to grow up and get serious. So then I go off to flight school down in Pensacola, Florida. The movie Officer and a Gentleman that’s how old I am. That movie was shot after about a year after I got commissioned as an ensign and I went through primary flight school in Corpus Christi, Texas. I went through intermediate flight schools in Beeville, Texas and I got my wings. And I became an anti submarine warfare pilot, going after Soviet submarines, which again, back in the mid late 80s. That was that was the enemy for carrier battle groups. So I did that and I served my active duty obligation. And I get out. My last job in the Navy was on Capitol Hill. Well, let me correct myself after doing my active duty obligation. I went to work for an investment bank, it’s now extinct. I went to work at Price Waterhouse. Now it’s PricewaterhouseCoopers. So it was about three or four years. And then I get called back to active duty. So another turn in my career. And I got to work on Capitol Hill as a liaison officer to the US Senate. And I worked in the Russell senate office building, I got to wear coat tied, you know, act like a civilian because the military doesn’t lobby. But I would go to Senate Armed Service Committee hearings and take copious notes and I would go back to the Pentagon and brief the Admiral. You know, this is what the senator Service committees willing to fund this is what they’re worland funding. And this is what they’re saying no way in terms of funding regarding weapons systems and things of that nature. So very interesting to see how the legislative process work. And then also, I would take the congressional delegations, the senators, the congressmen and their staffs, and actually take them out to to operations, we would airlift them out to the carrier battle group and let them see how we practice and how we do things. And so yeah, it was kind of glamorous, you know, a lot of a lot of good looking people and you’re, they’re looking at you and yes, I was cool. It’s all good. When I got out, after two years, I went to work for a senator from the state of New York whose name remain anonymous, and then I decided okay, now what am I going to do right now so as you as you can see, I don’t let the grass grow under my feet too much. And I decided I want to go get my PhD. So I 1990
Dr. Russell Strickland 12:57
vision come about from from working in a So gosh going back Yeah, the cross and and and then you know getting an MBA and and, and working as a graduate assistant so that you could go and learn how to fly and going into the Navy and hunting down subs and then going into the senate which which of those would you say was more dangerous on a day to day basis by the way.
Dr. Peter Lohrey 13:19
They each had their own danger. I will tell you that in an aircraft being catapulted off an aircraft carrier is extremely dangerous because if the catapult doesn’t build up enough steam, now they have a different system again, I had steam generation catapults to sling me off the carrier but you had to be ready because if you didn’t have enough steam built up, you would go right into the ocean. So you always had your hand on the ejection seat things of that nature. Fuel was always your worst enemy as a carrier pilot, because if you don’t get back to the ship, guess what? Tough luck buddy. And and so and then you have three guys at s3 Viking was my aircraft. I had a navigator to my right and I had two enlisted personnel in the back behind They were operating the West weapon systems and the electronic systems and things and so you’re running low on fuel, you’re trying to get back to the boat or the ship. And they call it a white knuckle landing because we measure the fuel tank and an aircraft at least in the military by weight. So if you only have 200 pounds of fuel left and an s3, that probably gave me about 15 minutes max flying time and if I don’t come in and hit one of the three wires that go across the aircraft carrier, okay, and then I got a bolter and come back around and that burns a lot of a lot of jet fuel. So JP five, so you know, what, you don’t get
Dr. Russell Strickland 14:39
to be able to land again.
Dr. Peter Lohrey 14:40
Yeah, you don’t put it down. It’s it’s not a pretty picture. Yeah. So the thing about the other part was on Capitol Hill, highly, highly dangerous in terms of personalities and things of that nature. Senator Strom Thurmond, who’s been he’s deceased now, but he was the chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee. There were times where he would come down to the liaison office. And he looked at me and say, Lohrey, I want an answer to this right now. And I’m like, sir, I can’t I can’t, you know, it’s not. It’s classified. Things like sailors that were stationed out of Charleston, South Carolina, unfortunately, events happen. And again, being the ancient fossil, we didn’t have the internet connectivity. So it was snail mail. And the mail came every two weeks or whatever. And so, one situation one of the sailors had not written to his wife and about a month yet all her friends had gotten mail from their husbands. And so she’s calling the senator and she’s, you know, turns out the ship was operating in the South China Sea, which was a very classified location that times I’m a little Lieutenant, which is an O three, like a captain in the Air Force army. And the senators coming at me saying, I want to know this. I want to know this. It I’m like, sir, I can’t tell you. Yeah, you know, so, you know, there’s those kind of things where there’s a danger in that regard. So I was trying to run interference for the admiral back Depending on but we’d have to come up and sit down with the senator and kind of smooth things over. So too soon. So it was it was very interesting. So then, you know, as you asked me, Russell, he said, okay, you did that. And then I did corporate America in between the first phase of active duty and then get called back and now I’m getting the 93 I’m not a young spring chicken anymore. I’m 36 years of age, so everybody can do the math and like, okay, now, what do you want to do? You know, I guess, sort of like a rebel or cowboy or whatever. And so, I always admired even though I was not a very serious student, I always admired certain professors that I encountered when I was at the University of Delaware. And when I did the graduate work at Loyola University, I was like, Man, what a great lifestyle and as I will use the word grew up, or whatever we should call it. I said, You know what, learning is pretty cool. I mean, learning is not not so bad. after all. I mean, if you have your head in the game, it’s really good stuff. And it’s not really work. So I applied to George Washington University in Washington DC and I got into the program. And let’s see 93 a start, I finished in 2000. So while I was in that program, I actually presented a paper to conference where by pure luck, the chief economist at the SEC was attending. And, and he approached me afterwards. I’m just a little graduate student, you know, trying to get ready for the dissertation. And Dr. Ciri, who’s a very successful academic in his own right, was the chief economist at the SEC. And he said, Would you like to come to work for me? And I’m like, Huh, it’s like, yeah, your your stuffs interesting. It’s the kind of things we do at the chief economist office at the SEC, you know, I can get you, you know, now they call them internships. I was paid to work 20 hours a week, okay. And I did that for two years as I worked on finishing up my coursework. Work and then the dissertation. so fabulous experience. As a matter of fact, I still use some of that information I learned today and the work that I do so. And that was 1999 2000. It’s been 20 years plus, but the information and the lessons I learned, especially in the areas of securities law, and forensic accounting and stuff has been invaluable to me. So, you know, it’s a balancing act.
Dr. Russell Strickland 18:25
One big lesson that you think you learned that that doesn’t just apply to strictly to securities, but people might be able to take that and apply it to their current lives. What was the takeaway you had from that your time there?
Dr. Peter Lohrey 18:41
The big thing that really helped me with at that point in time was putting it into plain English. In other words, you know, everybody has a great deal of detail and depth in their dissertation work and you are you are actually the expert on your own dissertation topic. And, and so Would it really train me or help me learn to do is to convert or convey to third parties and try to make it into sense so that the average non no PhD candidate would understand it. So I don’t mean to necessarily tell you, right. So that was really invaluable because you’ve got to be able to communicate. And I still say this, when I teach graduate students today, I say, Listen, you can have all the knowledge in the world between this year and that year, but if you can’t convey it to a third party, it’s not worth anything.
Dr. Russell Strickland 19:33
That’s right. So when I was an undergrad, we my undergrad degree was in physics. And we had this thing we call the grandma theorem. And it basically said that you don’t understand anything unless you can explain it to your grandmother. And maybe that might come across a little pejorative in this day and age but, but the idea was that most people’s grandmothers weren’t, you know, professional physicist. And so if you wanted to explain a concept to someone that was a layperson, they didn’t really understand what what you were doing, but you could make them understand it in a way that they could ask you good questions or say, well, that means this or something along those lines. There you got it.
Dr. Peter Lohrey 20:08
That’s exactly it. Yep. And, and I know that you know that Dr. Strickland and I mentioned that some of those things come in to play today. Because when you testify to trial, if you have a jury trial, you’ve got to explain a lot of detail, high level information to a jury of in state of New Jersey at seven and a federal jury, it’s more so 11. And you got to explain to these people with very different backgrounds and very different levels of education, some very sophisticated complicated things. And that’s that’s where the communication comes in. And I can’t speak enough to that as that. Like I said, it’s not any good if you have it between this year and that year, but you can’t communicate and the importance is not only just in speech, like we’re talking about right now, but it’s very important in Writing to it is it is
Dr. Russell Strickland 21:02
you brought up the you know, being able to communicate at a trial. Do you have a maybe an anecdote from that part of your life?
Dr. Peter Lohrey 21:10
Yes, yes, of course.
Honestly, I was always I was getting prepared for this. I’ve been, I worked at a high level litigation consulting firm. And there were lots and lots of PhDs and even even as, as we all know, within our relative disciplines, and so forth, there’s different hierarchies and so, you know, I’ll paint my my doctorate from the George Washington University in accounting and finance is like a mid tier plays. Okay. Right for the wrongfully, that’s just just what I’ve heard other people say and whatever it is, we all we all get some of that education. So when I was working as very high level litigation consulting firm, we worked on very, very large cases multi millions, hundreds of million have dollars lawsuits. And I worked on one specific matter for a gentleman who used to be the CEO at Fannie Mae and I was the as they do in the performing arts you have a please fill in the word for me. I know you know a doctor, you have the performer and then you have the understudy understood. So on this very, very big matter. The the lead performer was a PhD and was a professor at Penn Wharton, which is considered a top five business or one so I’m just little p, you know, from a mid tier school, but I worked with this gentleman for like a year and a half and what a fabulous experience. I mean, just fabulous and it was great because not to compare. He’s a lot like Dr. Strickland, he down to earth he cut through the garbage. He just said Okay, all right. Let’s get let’s get this down. And that’s that’s kind of the way it was. But anyway, so long story short, this was a lawsuit where this man had been awarded stock options, because he had done a lot of things for the government was Fannie Mae. Okay. And so depend expert and I worked on this thing we probably churned through 2000 or 3000 hours that were all chargeable. Yeah. And and they were like, I’m issuing these invoices for like $300,000 and I’m starting to feel guilty. I’m like, Well, wait a minute here, you know. And yeah, the attorneys are like, No, no, that’s fine. Because what happened was that with our federal government, Fannie Mae was regulated by an entity called the Office of Federal Housing enterprise oversight. And the Office of Federal Housing enterprise oversight was refusing to allow this executive the stock options he had earned while working at Fannie Mae. So he sued Fannie Mae, okay, but here’s the problem. Fannie Mae had to pay all of his legal costs because his employment contract said any legal matter that covered the span of your service at Fannie Mae, Fannie Mae will pay those legal fees. So it was like a triangle. Okay, so you had the former executive suing his former employer, okay. And his former employer had to pay his legal fees. And it was the top of the triangle.
Dr. Russell Strickland 24:17
To beat him off in court, they were still paying for the privilege. So it
Dr. Peter Lohrey 24:24
was you know, it’s like cheese, you know, and then the wildest thing happened was I’ll never forget, my colleague from Penn Wharton, his spouse had allergies to heat. So she was actually he was actually with his wife over in Scotland for the summer. And so he would start, I think it’s a five or six hour time difference in terms of the time zones. So he would start at 9am his time, which is 3am, New York time, and he would be grinding and then I would pick it up and we would have an overlap, right from like, 9am to like, 6pm his time and then I would go till seven or eight o’clock at night, New York time, so We were grinding, you know, 18 to 20 hours a day. And we were getting a lot done. I mean copious amounts of work. But I’ll never forget, it was like, two days after Labor Day. I get a phone call from the attorney and the attorney is located in Washington, DC, and he says, Put your pencil down. Hmm, what put your pencil down? Why? I think we have a settlement. I think we have a settlement. So I said, Well, I still got another $400,000 on this, just submit it to me, we’ll pay it. So I think the out of pocket for legal expenses alone were like close to two to two and a half million dollars. And it was just because some bureaucrat didn’t want to sit down and you know, figure some things out. So sorry,
Dr. Russell Strickland 25:42
roughly what the value of the stock options were.
Dr. Peter Lohrey 25:45
Yeah, they were worth probably about 1,000,008 million nine so they they wasted more in legal fees and just awarding his stock options. So come on, guys, and they’ll give you one quick one just to forewarn anybody who does any expert witness work. You Gotta be very careful because when you’re on that stands you did cross examined and the attorney who you’re working for. It’s an ego thing. It’s all ego, ego, ego. It’s a big performance. It’s like a soap opera when you take the stand. And if you don’t have a good attorney, they will leave you hanging with your backside out in the wind. I had that happen to me last year with this one guy, and he’s trying to make me look bad. Okay, cuz he didn’t come to my, you know, aid, as the other guy was ripping into me, right. Yeah. And so then as I take, and I’m done with my testimony, I go walking past him, and he says, Hi, you asked me to do what I told you to do. Right in front of the client. And I’m like, so, you know, there’s very, very high pressure to high, high scale work that you do. But sadly, as unfortunately, as we all know, you meet all kinds of people and it’s a very public forum. So if someone definitely leaves you hanging out in the wind, it’s painful because Because it’s not your fault, but again, you have to maintain your composure. And of course, you pardon my expression, you have some of your own skin in the game because you’ve been working on this. And, and the thing that they do mostly is they want to compare you I have a matter right now where the other expert is a Harvard PhD. Right? So what? That’s right, that’s right.