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Meet Leily Soleimanof, Ivey PhD candidate

Dec 13, 2022


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 Leily Soleimanof, PhD candidate

What is your background and what previous experience prepared you for this program?

I was born in Neyshaboor, a small city in Iran, where I had the opportunity to grow up among the nicest people, spending most of my free time hanging out with family. Then I moved to Tehran, Iran's capital, and studied industrial engineering at the Sharif University of Technology. I have also worked as a part-time teacher, teaching production management to high school students.

What attracted you to Ivey's program?

I consider Ivey's PhD program a perfect opportunity to develop the capabilities I need to realize my personal and professional goals. I chose the Information Systems (IS) discipline of the program because it focuses on the use and value creation of digital technologies. My research interests are at the intersection of digital technologies and entrepreneurship. I believe the Ivey Business School environment is perfect for developing an entrepreneurial mindset, which I can benefit from in my future career as an IS researcher.

What is your research focus?

I am passionate about digital business model innovation and how emerging technologies can disrupt traditional entrepreneurship outcomes. Specifically, I am interested in blockchain technology since it has the potential to revolutionize the way we do business in the future. Blockchain can transform existing business models through disintermediation and elimination of central authorities. Also, this technology provides the infrastructure for creating decentralized organizations where people cooperatively create value in a democratic manner. Recently, many decentralized platforms have emerged, a trend that calls for researchers to investigate this new phenomenon.

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

In today's market, platform firms make up a significant share of all businesses; as they grow, digital platforms gain more power. Few large companies (such as Google, Facebook, etc.) have access to massive datasets that can be used to deploy data-mining techniques that endanger users' privacy. Moreover, users are frequently subjected to unfair platform provider behaviour, such as demanding high fees or censorship. Overall, the centralization of power in the hands of platform providers has raised several concerns that need to be addressed. With blockchain technology, we have a chance to avoid a dystopian future in which a small number of platform giants control everything. Therefore, my research is focused on the concept of decentralization, which I believe is the core value proposition of blockchain technology.

How do you see your research making an impact?

Since bitcoin was the first widely adopted usage of blockchain technology, researchers primarily focused on its technical aspects and financial applications. There are significant gaps in the literature on blockchain managerial aspects, and many questions remain unanswered regarding the implications of blockchain technology for business. I want to contribute to this emerging literature by studying how blockchain might transform the future of the business landscape.

Who have been the strongest influences in your life?

As the youngest child in my family, I have always looked up to my brother and sisters. I consider myself very lucky to have them in my life. Even though I have spent most of my life apart from them, they remain a great source of inspiration and encouragement to me. Because of them, I never had to go through hardships alone, and I was always blessed with their support. Their experiences, insights, and advice have significantly impacted my mindset.

What might someone be surprised to know about you?

My food preferences are strange. People are usually surprised to learn about the kinds of food I've never tried (which makes for quite a long list). Also, I had never touched an animal until last year when I decided to overcome my phobia by hugging a friend's pet.

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

I am a fan of classical Persian music. I especially enjoy them because of their lyrics, which are inspired by classical-era Persian poets. I grew up listening to Mohammad Reza Shajarian, the maestro of traditional Persian music. Nowadays, I mostly find myself listening to music from his son, Homayoun Shajarian. The track Avaz on Rumi Sonnet from his album The Lords of the Secrets is my favourite.

What is your best podcast recommendation?

I always enjoy listening to HBR IdeaCast episodes. Also, I recommend the DAO or Never podcast to anyone curious about blockchain technology and Web3.

What book would you recommend to others? Why?

As a business student, I recommend The Daily Drucker and Cyrus the Great: Art of Leadership and War. These books introduced me to management literature and helped me discover my passion for becoming a scholar who can contribute to this body of knowledge. But my all-time recommended reading is Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty. I think we live in an unfair world, and this book is a must-read for everyone concerned about global economic inequalities.

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