- Jun 2, 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.
Get to know: Parisa Rajabi, PhD candidate
With a background in industrial engineering, Parisa Rajabi learned to look at problems from many angles. It’s a skill that she now applies to investigating how to motivate all supply chain members to be engaged in corporate sustainability efforts. Read on to learn what inspired Rajabi’s research journey, what activities allow her to express her creativity, and why she feels she has seen half the world in just one city.
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Q&A with Parisa Rajabi
What attracted you to Ivey’s program?
I chose to continue my education at Ivey because of the outstanding faculty. They not only do research in my favourite field, but also work in close collaboration with the industry. In particular, I really cherish the opportunity to work with my supervisors, Robert Klassen, MBA ’89, Professor of Operations Management and Sustainability; and Gal Raz, Associate Professor, Operations Management and Sustainability; who both work on sustainability issues in supply chains. Their research focuses on solutions to improve businesses while caring for the environment and society. Seeing my reflection of research on society is a crucial factor for me, and I believe it is also an important value for the Ivey Business School.
What is your research focus?
Generally speaking, I am motivated by the importance of sustainability and the role of human behaviour in supply chains. To achieve sustainable development, firms should take into account social and environmental performance in addition to economic performance. While most organizations can try to control their sustainability performance, the sustainability of their suppliers and other parties is usually out of their control. Therefore, identifying the factors that can motivate all supply chain members to participate in a joint sustainability effort becomes crucial. My research is focused on identifying the factors that can help improve human sustainable behaviour in supply chains.
Why is that area appealing to you? What big problems/issues need to be addressed?
While there are a lot of studies on sustainable supply chain management, most of them have focused on regulations or financial incentives to promote sustainable behaviour in supply chains. However, by considering human cognition, supply chain members can gently be pushed toward a sustainable choice. In fact, people are not perfectly rational and they have cognitive limitations. Hence, it is possible to change people’s behaviour by understanding these cognitive limitations and modifying their environment to nudge them towards more sustainable decisions, instead of forcing them to do so. I believe this modification of the environment can be done by designing systems and working processes to help supply chain members make more sustainable decisions.
How do you see your research making an impact?
In the realm of sustainable supply chain management, my research would highlight how human factors influence the working of operating systems and how considering human-bounded rationality would change most of the known equations. I hope that my research would show how operations and supply chain management fields can be enriched by adopting various behavioural principles.
How do you see research as an aid to business improvement?
While recently most companies have understood the importance of sustainability and intend to incorporate it into their operations, it’s still a challenging task for them. My research would help businesses to create vibrant and sustainable companies and find ways to get all the stakeholders truly engaged in day-to-day corporate sustainability efforts.
What previous experience prepared you for this?
I hold a BSc and an MSc in industrial engineering. Industrial engineering is a vast major, and I have worked in diverse domains. It has helped me to broaden my view and gain insight into what is going on in other areas. This gave me the ability to look at a problem from various angles. Also, conducting projects for different industries and going through their challenges has taught me to not be afraid of the unknown. It is a really valuable lesson for me, and I constantly remind myself that carrying out research is a way in which you don’t know what difficulties you are going to encounter, however, you can always find a way to make it through.
Where did you grow up and what was it like there?
I was born and raised in Isfahan, which is a large city in central Iran. Isfahan is famous for its historical architecture, and art. Every corner you turn, there is a historical building, monument, painting, or artifact. Actually, we have a Persian proverb, "Isfahan nesf-e- jahan," which means Isfahan is half of the world. And, really, if you visit this city, your eyes will see so much beauty that you’ll feel like you have seen half of the world.
Who have been your strongest influences in life?
My parents have always encouraged me to aspire to great things and supported me through them. Also, my husband, who is also a scholar, taught me to push my limits. He believed in me even when I didn’t believe in myself. His faith in me gave me the strength to do the things that I could only wish for.
What might someone be surprised to know about you?
For many people, cooking is nothing but a chore. However, I am a foodie person, and I love cooking. It gives me the chance to be creative. I like spending time making new cuisines, which enables me to learn about various cultures. I’ve always dreamed of becoming a chef and having my own restaurant.
What is the most played song on your playlist as of now?
I often listen to Persian music but All of Me by John Legend is one of the most played songs on my playlist.
What is your best podcast recommendation?
I highly recommend Hidden Brain, which is a podcast that talks about unconscious patterns that drive human choices. Whenever I listen to it, I learn something new, and find a deeper understanding of human behaviour.
What book would you recommend to others? Why?
One of my favorite books is Germinal by Émile Zola. It’s about the daily lives of miners and how they are exploited. This book is so authentic that you feel what life is like working under the ground.