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Merrimack College is educating its students with the skills they need in a specialized economy and partnering with employers to fill high-demand positions.
Moradi, who expects to receive his Ph.D. degree this summer from the John Molson School of Business at Concordia University in Montreal, will come to Merrimack College as an Assistant Professor in the fall semester to join the Department of Accounting & Finance. He received his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, and completed his M.S. in Social-Economic Systems Engineering. We managed to get a few moments from his busy schedule in order to discuss his career path and his favorite sports.
From a BS Mechanical Engineering to a PhD in Finance doesn’t seem like a natural path. What caused you to change from Mechanical Engineering to Finance?
I was encouraged to choose engineering for my undergraduate studies because I had a strong background of Mathematics, but after my first internship I realized that I was more passionate about Economics and Finance. For my master’s degree I chose Industrial Engineering with special emphasis in Social-Economic Systems Engineering, which was a transitional path from Engineering to Finance.
What were the key turning points in your career path?
In my opinion, finding a subject that one is truly passionate about is of utmost importance. I am very passionate about Finance, and really happy about my choice. After I changed my field, I had to catch up with my peers, who had Finance backgrounds, which wasn’t an easy task. However, my interest in the subject made the transition much easier, which highlights the importance of being interested in your major.
Understanding where I stood (where I needed to improve) and planning (how to study and what sources to use) were the key factors in this regard. I knew that I had to do extra work, so I made use of the help of my advisors to identify key concepts that I needed more knowledge in. Effectively using their help, I planned to catch up with my peers making best use of various texts or articles. Undoubtedly, discipline and interest in the subject were crucial as I had to learn a lot in very limited time.
How will you relate these experiences to undergraduates?
I always encourage my students to follow their passion. In the current competitive business environment, students can overcome the challenges they face more easily if they follow their interest. Moreover, they will be happier and more successful during their studies as well as later on in their careers. In my opinion, education is not about just getting a job; it is, in fact, more about developing skills for a fulfilling and successful career.
Your dissertation is titled, “Three Essays in Mutual Funds’ Investment Choices.” What’s that about?
The Mutual Funds industry has grown in size significantly in recent years. Moreover, a variety of financial instruments (i.e., derivatives, short selling, etc.) are available to investors. My research focuses on mutual funds’ motivations to invest in various types of securities and the implications of such choices. Part of my thesis was recently published in the Quarterly Journal of Finance, titled “Derivatives, Short Selling and U.S. Equity and Bond Mutual Funds,” which shows that mutual funds’ use of derivatives improves their performance without adversely affecting the risk and cost. The results can have significant policy implications, as the use of these instruments has come under scrutiny after the recent financial crisis.
What interests of yours may surprise your students?
I am a big sports fan. I played center for the basketball team of my university during my undergraduate studies, and I love hockey and football. I still play basketball sometimes, although not very often. I look forward to watching Merrimack’s Division One hockey team in action.
What attracted you to Merrimack College?
I was absolutely impressed by the collegial environment at Merrimack as well as the close relationship between students and the faculty.