In January 2018, Ali Mayboudi took the helm of NIC School of Business as NIC’s youngest-ever department chair.
Having placed within the top thousand students in the country following Iran’s grueling national entrance exam among more than one million students, Mayboudi was set to begin a bachelor’s degree in mining engineering in 1999. The program was not his first choice, but it offered the chance to study at the University of Tehran – widely recognized as Iran’s top university. But plans have a way of veering off course. For Mayboudi and few of his classmates, the sudden divergence came when they decided to run a mining magazine. The magazine would be the first of its kind in Iran and might even break even one day. No one in the group expected the project to be a runaway success.
“We had a tough time in the first two years,” Mayboudi said. Navigating the ins and outs of running a magazine as well as persuading industry leaders to take them seriously was a massive challenge on top of their full-time studies.
After two years the magazine met the break-even goal. Then, Mayboudi was appointed to the marketing and development manager. The business enjoyed a sustained increase in revenue for another three years. The development of their business led to organizing some major national and international conferences and special events. The experience served as his first introduction to the world of business and proved to be pivotal when Mayboudi graduated in 2005.
Then, Mayboudi headed to Eastern Mediterranean University in Cyprus to begin his MBA. In Cyprus, he took a full-time job as a teaching assistant – an experience that was not entirely comfortable for the self-described introvert.
“By nature, I’m a shy person,” Mayboudi says. “Think of that person at the back of the classroom who doesn’t want to be called. That was me.”
But he also learned something else about himself: despite his quiet disposition, he loved to teach.
“It was tough at the beginning,” he recalls. “But I was encouraged by the fact I could help students learn a new topic.”
When a chance came to study for his second master’s degree in economics at Simon Fraser University in 2011, he took it. The next four years saw a flurry of activity for the young academic.
In addition to studying and working as a teaching assistant, he held down a co-op job as a business and data analyst at ePACT Network, an emergency preparedness startup based in North Vancouver. He also worked as a consultant for World Vision Canada in 2014, helping the Canadian charity assess and analyze ‘social impact bonds’ loaned to venture projects in developing countries.
“The work was impressive because so many risk factors had to be taken into account,” he said.
Mayboudi also started as a lecturer in the Investment Appraisal and Risk Analysis program at Queen's University before joining NIC’s faculty.