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Meet Valen Boyd, Ivey PhD student

  • Cam Buchan
  • |
  • Aug 25, 2020
Meet Valen Boyd, Ivey PhD student

Valen Boyd

Ivey’s PhD Program in Business Administration is a full-time research-based program designed to develop scholars and to place graduates at high-quality research universities around the world. Our PhD candidates are showcased at conferences around the world, and regularly featured in top-tier academic and industry publications.

To help you get to know them, we’ve asked them about their academic and personal interests.

Get to know: Valen Boyd, PhD student

With an MBA from Lazaridis School at Wilfrid Laurier University, a BA from Queen’s University, and experience as an Associate Director at BDC Capital and an early employee at a startup, Valen Boyd comes to Ivey’s PhD Program with a keen interest in the challenges faced by entrepreneurs, particularly female entrepreneurs.

She also knows a thing or two about James Taylor, classic board games, and backpacking through South America and Europe. Read more about this first-year PhD student and her interests in this Q&A interview.

Q&A with Valen Boyd

What attracted you to Ivey’s program?

I was drawn to Ivey because of its reputation as a world-class business school and research institution. I spoke to several faculty members at Ivey and learned that there was a lot of overlap between their expertise and my research interests. The faculty were all very warm and welcoming. I knew I would get a lot of support here and develop into a productive researcher.

What is your research focus?

I am in the first year of the PhD program, studying entrepreneurship. Broadly, I’m interested in female entrepreneurship, managing high-growth firms, and B Corps (organizations that balance purpose and profit).

Why is that area appealing to you? What big problems/issues need to be addressed?

My research interests are informed by my professional experience working in the entrepreneurship and innovation space. After earning my MBA at the Lazaridis School of Business, I was an Associate Director at BDC Capital, the investment arm of the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC). In my time at BDC, I witnessed the many challenges of scaling a business. For example, many female entrepreneurs told me about the unique barriers they faced when raising venture capital. This is a well-documented issue that is being addressed by scholars, government, and practitioners. I am fascinated by the academic literature on this topic, and this was a main driver in my choice to pursue a PhD.

How do you see your research making an impact?

I am still at the beginning of my doctoral studies and hope my research will add to the academic literature and help inform policy decisions regarding female-led small- and medium-sized enterprises.

How do you see research as an aid to business improvement?

Research can provide a feedback loop to practitioners. When I was in industry, I didn’t know many professionals who read entire academic papers, but I did know quite a few who read research briefs and who were interested in using research findings to inform their decision-making. That’s why I think knowledge mobilization efforts are so crucial.   

What previous experience prepared you for this?

Prior to my role at BDC, I was the fourth employee at Teach Away Inc., a high-growth startup that was listed in Profit Magazine as the third fastest-growing Canadian company in 2010. Spending close to 10 years in the entrepreneurship space as both a startup employee and a financer, I got an inside look into growing and managing high-growth businesses, the challenges entrepreneurs encounter, and different business models.

Where did you grow up and what was it like there?

I grew up in Toronto. It is such a dynamic city. There are so many different neighbourhoods, and each has its own flavour. It’s like dozens of little unique cities rolled up in one.

Who have been your strongest influences in life?

These days, my biggest inspiration is my son. Pursuing a PhD has been a long-time goal of mine, but it wasn’t an easy decision to leave my corporate career in my 30s. I decided to pursue it because I wanted to show my son that it is never too late to follow your heart, and that you should do things that are important to you even when they are scary.

What do you like to do outside of the PhD program?

I like to hike and to read. I also love board games, especially the classics like Boggle.

What might someone be surprised to know about you?

After undergrad, I wanted to take some time off to see some of the world before starting my career. I planned to be abroad for less than a year, but I ended up teaching English in Japan and Korea for 18 months before embarking on a solo-backpacking trip through South America and Europe.

What is the most played song on your playlist as of now?

Fire and Rain by James Taylor.

What is your best podcast recommendation?

How I Built This With Guy Raz is a great one, especially if you are interested in startups.

What book would you recommend to others? Why?

I recently read Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike, by Phil Knight, and I loved it. I love biographies and business books. Shoe Dog is the best of both.

What tips have you learned for staying connected in an online learning environment?

Take time to connect with your peers individually. One thing about online learning is you don’t get the opportunity to chat with your fellow students before or after class. In an online learning environment, you must create the collisions that naturally happen in an in-person environment.