Ph.D. Student Profile: Hooman Abootorabi ’21

Hooman Abootorabi ’21 Ph.D. joined the Martin J. Whitman School of Management in 2017 as a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Entrepreneurship and Emerging Enterprise. Prior to studying at the Whitman School, Abootorabi earned an undergraduate degree in industrial engineering at the Azad University in Iran, a master’s in international economics and relations at American Graduate School in Paris, as well as an MBA in business administration at Iran’s University of Science and Culture.

While Abootorabi was earning a master’s degree, he was simultaneously working as a business advisor and at a research center in Iran, which was when he found his passion for research. He says, “I realized entrepreneurship isn’t just about starting a business. It’s about how a community can prosper.”

When asked what drew him to the Whitman School, he responds, “The U.S. has the most prestigious business schools in the world compared to other countries. The Whitman School was one of a few universities that offered an entrepreneurship specialization and the research interests of faculty aligned with mine.”

Currently, Aboororabi is working with his advisor, Johan Wiklund, Al Berg Chair and professor of entrepreneurship, to research academic entrepreneurship. “Academic entrepreneurship has a huge impact on societies. Academics themselves commercialize high-tech inventions. I’m researching the kinds of firms that are based on university inventions and research. I want to explain how they can be successful and grow,” explains Aboororabi.

“Professor Johan, who is my mentor, is great. He helped me improve my critical thinking and taught me to be bold in my writing,” says Aboororabi. 

Aboororabi applies his passion for entrepreneurship to the classroom, as well. He has taught two sections of Introduction of Entrepreneurship and won the 2020 Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award, which is given to the top 4% of teaching assistants at Syracuse University.

Aboororabi is passionate about teaching his students to self-advocate and to be confident in the skills they have gained. “It was great. It was exciting. I love to spend time with the students. When you see the spark in the eyes of your students, and you think you are exciting them and they are learning something, that is invaluable,” he says.

“One piece of advice I would tell other people pursuing a Ph.D. degree is that they should make sure that they are interested in doing research. Some people think having a Ph.D. is a continuation of a master’s degree, but it is a career,” he shares. “It’s not just taking some courses and passing. Ph.D. programs are research oriented. People who are interested need to make sure that’s what they want to pursue for the rest of their life.”

“My goal is to be placed at a prestigious R1 University in the U.S. I want to continue my career in research and become a university professor,” he says of his long-term aspirations.

“The Whitman School, in particular the EEE department, is very supportive,” he adds. You always feel that you belong in the community.”

Learn more about other Whitman students and their experiences.

Maya Bingaman
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