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Meet Hasan Shorakaei, Ivey PhD candidate

  • Communications
  • |
  • Jan 11, 2023
Meet Hasan Shorakaei, Ivey PhD candidate

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 Hasan Shorakaei, PhD candidate

What is your background?

I was born and raised in Karaj, Iran, a city known for its unique climate and diverse people, earning it the nickname "Little Iran". After growing up in Karaj, I moved to Tehran, Iran’s capital city, to attend the Sharif University of Technology, a prestigious university in Iran, where I earned my bachelor's degree in industrial engineering. In addition to my studies, I gained practical experience in the fields of marketing and data science by working in the e-commerce and information technology industries for three years.

What attracted you to Ivey's program?

Ivey Business School's program caught my attention while I was looking for a decent business school to pursue my PhD because of its reputation as one of Canada's top business schools and its highly regarded professors. After reading more about the university, its various PhD programs, and the professors' research in each discipline, I decided to pursue my PhD in Management Science since it matched my interests and had distinguished professors with similar research areas.

What is your research focus?

I am passionate about artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and their applications to other industries. I am always astounded by the research and products in this field, the most recent of which is chatGPT, a chatbot launched by OpenAI in November, 2022. I think there is a lot of potential for extending this knowledge to other industries in a way that revolutionizes how we work by increasing productivity in enterprises. 

I'm also interested in the intersection of optimization and machine learning algorithms. We have seen how far AI and machine learning have come, and one of the core aspects of machine learning is optimization. Nowadays, machine learning optimization approaches are facing more and more challenges as a result of the exponential growth in data volume and the rise in model complexity. This provides opportunities for leveraging optimization algorithms in machine learning and AI to develop new, efficient algorithms with widespread applications in solving real-world problems.

Why is that area appealing to you?

I've had experience working as a data analyst for one of the biggest e-commerce companies in the Middle East, and I have observed that there are many challenges in applying machine learning/AI algorithms to large datasets in a way that is computationally efficient and low-cost for companies. I believe that by employing optimization techniques, we can create fast-learning algorithms with high accuracy and low computing cost, which could be very valuable for business. 

How do you see your research making an impact?

Companies are focused on sending the right message to the right customer at the right time. In my current research, my supervisors, Tiffany Bayley and Mehmet Begen, and I are working on a model that can help companies optimize their communication with customers using reinforcement learning. This model uses historical customer data to suggest the best communication message, the best time to send the message, and the best channel for communicating it. The result could help businesses switch to a customer-centric approach and establish fully personalized and automated communication with their customers.

What previous experience prepared you for this?

I took a lot of statistics and data science classes while getting my bachelor's degree at Sharif University. I also took a lot of online machine-learning courses and learned how to use Python and SQL. Additionally, I have experience working in the fields of marketing and data science, which has allowed me to understand some of the challenges that this field faces, particularly those that could be addressed with the use of data.

Who have been the strongest influences in your life?

I've been fortunate to have several strong influences in my life, including my family, friends, and mentors. My family has always supported me and has taught me valuable lessons about hard work, responsibility, and the importance of staying true to my values. Family members have also been a constant source of love and encouragement, which has helped me to pursue my goals and dreams. I'm grateful to have such a supportive and loving family.

What might someone be surprised to know about you?

Even though I have watched many series and sitcoms, I have never watched any of them more than once because I believe it to be a waste of time.

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

Now, it is the song Believer by Imagine Dragons. But I think Daydream by Lily Meola will take its position in a few days.

What is your best podcast recommendation?

The Happiness Lab with Dr. Laurie Santos is a podcast that I've been listening to recently and would strongly suggest. She discusses factors that, according to research, contribute to our happiness as well as factors that we might expect to increase our happiness but do not have as much of an impact as we might imagine.

What book would you recommend to others? Why?

I recommend two books. First, The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy was a helpful and inspiring book for me. It talks about the power of small, consistent actions and how they can lead to significant changes in your life. Second, The Art of the Good Life by Rolf Dobelli explores the factors that contribute to happiness and well-being and offers practical strategies for improving the quality of your life.