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Duet: Yasser Rahrovani & Derrick Neufeld, PhD ’97

  • Pat Morden
  • |
  • Mar 9, 2016

Yasser Rahrovani recently joined Ivey’s faculty, bringing with him fresh ideas. Professor Derrick Neufeld, PhD ’97, is showing Rahrovani the ropes.

Duet: Yasser Rahrovani & Derrick Neufeld, PhD ’97

“What’s great about Ivey is that everybody is your mentor.”  That’s Yasser Rahrovani (pictured left), who joined Ivey last summer after completing a PhD at McGill. “They try to walk in my shoes —giving me advice based on what’s best for my career.”

Derrick Neufeld (pictured right), who works closely with Rahrovani, sees mentorship as a two-way street. “Yasser and other new faculty members bring fresh ideas and approaches,” he says. “There’s something about a new colleague that stirs the blood of the institution!”

Rahrovani grew up in Iran, where his mother is a dentist and academic, and his father is an IT consultant. He credits their unflagging support and the school he attended from ages seven to 18 with giving him a deep appreciation for education. Eight years ago he and his wife, Azadeh, moved to Canada to pursue further studies. Rahrovani’s research focuses on creativity and innovation with information technology. “I like the autonomy and freedom you have in academia,” he says. “And I love working with young people who are energetic, ambitious, philanthropic and full of fresh ideas.”

Neufeld, a Winnipeg native, also names his family as a major influence. His father was a “swashbuckling entrepreneur” and his mother, a talented artist. He chose Ivey for his PhD because of its focus on rigorous research that is relevant to managers. His research interests include telecommuting, virtual teams and remote leadership, and he’s currently writing a paper on cybercrime using FBI cases. “Yasser and I are both geeks at heart,” he says. “But we’re also mindful of what technology is doing to the society around us. I suppose we see ourselves as the ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ in terms of raising these issues with our students and colleagues.”  

Q & A with Yasser Rahrovani & Derrick Neufeld:

Favourite app?

Rahrovani: No particular app, but I love the Google Store because it’s a platform for innovation.

Neufeld: Scrabble. I play every day with my 84-year-old mother who lives in B.C. (and she usually wins!)

Favourite movie about technology?

Rahrovani: Inception, A Beautiful Mind

Neufeld: WarGames with Matthew Broderick playing a young hacker who starts a simulated war that threatens to turn real.

E-book or paper?

Rahrovani: Both—hard copy for books (i.e., pleasure reading), but electronic for reading and commenting on journal articles.

Neufeld: Paper, but I’m looking forward to the development of e-paper printed with digital ink.

Cell phone on or off during a dinner party? 

Rahrovani: Off, but only for the first five minutes! I try not to be rude but I sometimes peek under the table.

Neufeld: Not necessarily off, but I completely ignore it when I’m with people. People absolutely trump technology.

Favourite search engine?

Rahrovani: When I’m buying something, I like DuckDuckGo, which doesn’t track activity and thus you don’t end up with several ads in your browser or Facebook timeline. I also use Wolfram|Alpha, a computational engine.

Neufeld: I use Google all the time, but I also like Wayback Machine, which lets you look at old versions of web pages.

Favourite travel site?

Rahrovani: I have no favourite—I go where the deals are best. I do find the reviews on TripAdvisor useful.

Neufeld: Expedia is my go-to.

What technology do you wish existed (but doesn’t)?

Rahrovani: When my son was six months old, I wished there was a technology that would enable my wife to upload him to the Internet, so I could download him in my office, play with him for 15 minutes, and then upload him again.

Neufeld: A flux capacitor. That’s the technology in the movie Back to the Future that enables you to go backwards or forwards in time. I’ve been fascinated by the idea of time travel since I was a kid.

Photo: Nation Wong
Art Direction: Greg Salmela, Aegis