Professor Chat: Amir Masoumi

Professor Amir Masoumi left Iran to complete his graduate studies and has been teaching in the School of Business since last August. Social Media Editor Sean McIntyre sat down with him for a quick “Professor Chat.”

Professor Amir Masoumi teaching his Operations and Quality Management class. Photo by Sean McIntyre.
Professor Amir Masoumi teaching his Operations and Quality Management class. Photo by Sean McIntyre.

Sean McIntyre: You are originally from Isfahan, Iran, what made you decide to leave Iran and venture to the United States?

Amir Masoumi: Completing graduate studies in the United States is a dream for every Iranian student. Almost every undergraduate student, when they complete their study and if they have done well, will be looking for opportunities in Canada and the United States. For me, University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMass) is where I ended up.

SM: So I can safely assume your biggest motivator to venture to the United States is to continue your education?

AM: Yes. For my undergraduate degree I attended Isfahan University of Technology as an electronic engineer, but I wanted to obtain my graduate degree in the United States.

SM: As a child did you dream of becoming a professor, or did you dream of being a firefighter or police officer?

AM: I was not dreaming of becoming a professor as a kid, but for some reason my mom always saw me as a doctor or engineer. It’s funny because she would very often call me “doctor engineer” or something like that. So I don’t know if that was the real reason or real motive, but as I was completing my PhD at UMass I became interested in the idea of becoming a professor.

SM: The PhD program at UMass helped guide you in becoming a professor, so how did the program influence your career pathway?

AM: A part of the PhD program at UMass as a student in the Isenberg School of Management was to teach at least two courses. When I first taught an undergraduate course, I found that I really enjoyed teaching and being in front of students. The feeling that you are teaching something new to students is something that I really enjoyed. After some great evaluations on my teaching, I was nominated for a distinguished teaching award.

SM: That’s fantastic!

AM: Yes it was, and I just became very interested in teaching and figured my career should be within academia.

SM: You stated earlier that you earned a degree in electronic engineering, what made you transition to operations management?

AM: After taking a few semesters of electronic engineering I found out that it was not my ideal major. Then when I was doing my fourth or fifth semester I took all my electives in industrial engineering and switched from electronic engineering to industrial engineering for my master’s degree when I attend the Azad University of Tehran in Iran. Then when I came to the United States I completed my PhD in management since there are many similarities between management and industrial engineering. In fact, when applying for my PhD I applied for both industrial engineering and management. I actually started as an industrial engineering student at UMass and then switched to management.

SM: That’s crazy! And while you were obtaining your PhD at UMass, what research were you completing as a student?

AM: The title of my PhD thesis is “Supply Chain Management of Perishable Healthcare Products.” I started with the study of human blood. I did many interviews with the Red Cross and completed mathematical models with my academic advisor and additional students. Afterwards, we completed papers on pharmaceutical supply chains on human blood and even pharmaceutical competitions. We focused on price and price elasticity of demand. Finally, I completed additional research on disaster supply chains which I finalized partially after my PhD thesis.

SM: But after you gained your PhD what attracted you to begin your career at Manhattan College?

AM: I was looking for schools that focused primarily in teaching and research. On a tenure track we must publish at least four times within five years in order to keep ourselves up-to-date with publications and advancements. The focus here, as we all know, is in quality teaching. So this was the perfect balance for me between teaching, research, and service. I am very happy with my decision of choosing MC.

SM: Speaking of tenure, how long have you been at MC?

AM: This will be my second semester at MC since August 2013.

SM: And what courses have you taught both at MC and UMass?

AM: At MC, I taught an MBA course last semester on Supply Chain Analysis and two sections of Operations and Quality Management. This semester I am again teaching three sections of Operations and Quality Management. At UMass, I taught Introduction to Management Science and I was a TA and gave guest lectures on Transportation Logistics and Humanitarian Supply Chains.

SM: So I can safely assume you have a whole bunch of experience in the field of management?

AM: Well as much as I can gain within the last five years.

SM: Apart from your academia career you just had your first child, congratulations. How do you like being a new parent?

AM: It’s a very different experience and in a good way. I do not get as much sleep as I used to, but it is very sweet and rewarding experience. I try to enjoy it as much as possible since I spend my weekends in Massachusetts with my family.

SM: How do you handle the long distance as a new parent?

AM: For the first few weeks I am trying to spend as much time with my family. Sometimes I commute twice a week between my Monday schedule and Wednesday office hours. The only way I can make it work is that I try to include my driving hours as a part of my work. I will be driving for ten to twelve hours and I consider that a part of my work schedule.

SM: It sounds like you excel in multitasking, so it must all be worth it?

AM: Yes it is all worth it.

SM: Well finally, in the next ten years what are your biggest goals that you want to achieve?

AM: From an academic and career perspective, I would like to become tenured. If I am lucky enough to become tenured then I will become an Associate Professor. I will also like to continue my research on healthcare supply chains. If possible I would like to explore the opportunity to offer new courses. Also my family is a priority to me, and hopefully in a few years my wife will be looking for jobs in the New York City area, and then the commute will stop.