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.
Q&A with Amin Mazhari, PhD candidate
What is your background?
I was born and raised in Tehran, Iran's capital city. With charming people from various cultures, Tehran is a densely populated city among the middle east major commercial, financial, and cultural centers. Before joining Ivey, I studied Computer Engineering and then did an MBA in finance. I worked in the Information Technology industry for several years. I participate in a variety of sports during my leisure time, including martial arts, soccer, and bodybuilding.
What attracted you to Ivey's program?
I heard about Ivey’s reputation during my MBA program. But, more importantly, my supervisor in the master’s program and some of my friends, who are also PhD students or alumni of North American business schools, played a crucial role in getting me more familiar with Ivey's PhD program.
While researching PhD programs, I was impressed by Ivey's high ranking in business research and its intriguing research focus in the Information Systems (IS) group. During the interview, I profoundly discerned the unconditional support, commitment, and empathy of my supervisor, Nicole Haggerty, HBA '89, PhD '04, and other IS group professors. After that, I became determined to find my way to Ivey and pursue the next chapter of my life among these incredible people.
What is your research focus?
I have three main areas of interest: (1) business data analytics and its impacts on strategic decision-making regarding the retail industry; 2) digital transformation in health care, and 3) blockchain.
Currently, I am engaged in all three domains in different research projects. My goal is to find a novel and specific research gap between these three sub-domains and to combine them.
Why is that area appealing to you? What big problems/issues need to be addressed?
First and foremost, all three sub-domains are currently on the cutting edge of research topics. There is a long path ahead for each with a promising future and significant unaddressed and unsolved issues.
During my prior work experience as a practitioner in the IT industry, I established a customer analytics platform for the online/offline retail industry. I figured out that, other than implementation process obstacles, numerous unsolved impediments require investigation on the individual and organizational levels through the whole launch procedure.
Additionally, my interest in blockchain relates to my MBA in Finance background. Since then, I have been curious about this emerging topic and how employing that in various aspects can improve social welfare and benefit society.
How do you see your research making an impact?
In one of my studies, I concentrated on the challenges that arise when launching data analytics products. I believe that by addressing the correct issues for anyone inclined to work in this area, I can provide a more comprehensive perspective and a suitable clue to overcome early stage challenges. In that case, they can take a step further, concentrate on other substantial issues, and not have to re-invent the wheel.
How do you see research as an aid to business improvement?
Quantifying an organization's data value begins with its data strategy, as the value of information is typically understood in terms of business impact. The concern is the lack of resources to launch a data product for each organization, specifically when it comes to small and medium enterprises (SMEs). I have focused on creating a data analytics product to serve numerous businesses with various needs. Overcoming the challenges can satisfy numerous companies in the retail industry.
What previous experience prepared you for this?
I have several years of professional work experience in the IT industry. On my last project, I spent three years developing a customer analytics platform for the retail sector. During this period, I became aware of the obstacles professional practitioners faced and their intense desire for data-driven decision-making. Many SMEs realize the value of data and are passionate about a data analytics platform to assist them in making more reasonable strategic decisions daily. However, they lack the resources to launch their data products and prefer to use a platform provided by a third-party firm. Launching a data analytics product that collects data from various sources, runs AI/ML algorithms, and converts raw data into insightful wisdom can assist decision-makers far more than they might anticipate.
Where did you grow up and what was it like there?
I grew up in Tehran. It is Iran's administrative, economic, and cultural centre, as well as the major industrial and transport centre of Iran. It's a multicultural city where Persians are dominant, and like other cities in Iran, it has four distinct seasons. Without a doubt, it is its own mini country. In Tehran, you can explore almost everything you desire. Since the city is located at the foot of the Alborz mountains, mountain climbing is an option for those who enjoy outdoor activities. Other options include visiting one of the more than 800 stunning parks in the city or taking your family and friends to the lakes and rivers around the city. Even though the city is crowded and there are daily traffic jams, the public transportation system is ideal. On every corner, there are several magnificent and enormous shopping centres. I think the city ranks among the best in the world in terms of restaurants and cafés. You can enjoy various delicious meals like traditional Iranian food, fast food, Chinese food, Indian food, Turkish food, or anything else.
Also, Tehran shares some common drawbacks with other major cities worldwide, including smog, heavy traffic, and a dense population. But there are always costs and benefits, and I decided to focus on the worthwhile details.
Who have been the strongest influences in life?
That is a difficult question to answer. From time to time, I have had some close friends that inspired and encouraged me to be a better version of myself. Above all, my family, specifically my parents, played a crucial role since I was a little child. They have always been my idols, inspiration, and motivation.
What might someone be surprised to know about you?
I sleep five hours on average and wake up at 7 a.m. every day, regardless of when I go to sleep. I strongly recommend that no one share a hotel suite with me on a trip, as they will be bothered.
What is the most played song on your playlist as of now?
Whatever It Takes by Imagine Dragons.
What is your best podcast recommendation?
I am a big fan of podcasts and listening to them is one of my favourite hobbies. If I had to choose one that is more generalized and useful to everyone, I would recommend The Mindset Mentor podcast with Rob Dial.
What book would you recommend to others? Why?
My first recommendation is No Rules Rules. The book is about Netflix and the culture of reinvention. The book details years of valuable professional experience in managing talented people, and readers can learn about establishing a successful and pioneering company from these experiences.
I also recommend Scout Mindset. It will help people to enhance their ability to look at the world through different lenses without prejudice. They can perceive their surroundings more deeply under these conditions.