Natalia Villatoro

Name: Natalia Villatoro

Anticipated Graduation: May 2022

Undergraduate and Master’s Institution and Degree: B.S. Business and Economics – ESEN (El Salvador) and Master’s in Business Administration - Texas State University (U.S.)

Hometown: El Salvador, Latin America

Dream Job: Finance professional


Natalia Villatoro
Ph.D. in Business Administration

What area of research are you exploring and what can you share about it?

My research interest is in the area of empirical finance. I am interested in theoretically motivated causal research questions in a corporate setting, with an emphasis on the dynamics of firms’ investing, financing and risk management decisions. Part of my co-authored work examines how cybersecurity risk and awareness affect various aspects of the firm. In recent years, the frequency at which corporations are targets of successful cyberattacks has grown dramatically. Our research focuses on how this type of risk and firms’ mitigating measures influence corporate investment policies and the cost of debt. We find that lenders value firms’ cybersecurity awareness, reflected in a lower cost of debt contracting. In another project, my co-authors and I study how brand equity affects corporate debt structure. The third stream of my work looks at litigation risk and its effects on various aspects of corporate policies.

How will the business community be able to apply your research?

My research will help expand the academic finance literature by addressing open questions with novel data and a rigorous econometric approach. The business community will benefit from a deeper understanding of how various sources of risk such as cyber risk and litigation risk affect corporations. Businesses will have new insights to inform their risk assessment and their understanding of the business environment in which they operate. This understanding feeds directly into the design of successful corporate policies and strategies. Ultimately, the policies that firms implement affect consumers, industries and society. Thus, it is important to understand these dynamics. 

As a researcher, you join an elite group of Business Niners who contribute to the business community in unique ways. In what way do you plan to have an impact in the years after you graduate? 

I am passionate about contributing to the public understanding of financial problems and raising awareness about the multiple ways in which finance benefits society. I plan to grow my research agenda by focusing on current and timely topics that affect corporations and society at large. In this way, my work will shed light on pressing challenges and offer insights that the business community can use as part of their inputs to guide corporate policies. I also plan to work directly with companies to advise on finance-related topics. I look forward to engaging with the business community and listening to the challenges and opportunities they face, provide guidance and envision ways in which research can help to address them. Finally, I aim to contribute to our business community through the education I offer to my students in the classroom. They will be equipped with a sound understanding of the fundamentals of corporate finance and investments, and they will bring this knowledge to their companies. 

How would you describe the Belk College of Business to someone considering a Ph.D. program?

The Belk College of Business is a place where you will find knowledgeable faculty actively engaged in cutting-edge research in all major areas of finance. Our program is committed to providing the rigorous training necessary for you to build the skills required to succeed in research and academic teaching careers. Our faculty wants your success. They will go the extra mile to support hard-working students. The program is rigorous and will provide you with the theoretical and empirical foundation you need to tackle research questions that can lead to meaningful contributions to the field.

View More Faces of Belk College