This year, UBC Sauder welcomed six new full-time lecturers, tenured and tenure-track faculty to the school. At UBC Sauder, faculty members are more than just ‘professors’ – they conduct impactful research that is changing how society views the world while also inspiring students to pursue their academic passions and become the thoughtful, values-driven leaders the business world needs.
In the fourth of this series, we introduce you to Sima Sajjadiani, Assistant Professor, Organizational Behaviour and Human Resources Division, UBC Sauder School of Business.
What brought you to UBC Sauder?
First and foremost, it was UBC Sauder’s collegial, supportive, and challenging environment that shaped my decision. After my campus visit, I felt I could grow both as a researcher and a teacher at UBC Sauder. Also, I wanted to live in a country whose values are closer to those of mine.
What are your areas of research and how did you get into this field?
My research involves examining the determinants and consequences of different strategic HR practices such as employee selection, staffing decisions, and incentive design, and how these decisions and practices can be optimized to improve individual, team, and organization-level work outcomes. My interest in this field of study is rooted in my understanding that human capital is the most important type of capital in the organization. I think with the optimization of HR practices, we can make work more tolerable, if not enjoyable, for employees while improving organizational outcomes.
What fuels your research – what prompted you to research this area?
I see my role as supporting and advancing multidisciplinary research concerning topics related to work and employment relations. I hope my research can offer practical insights for organizations and make a difference in the quality of work and employment relations through optimization of strategic HR decisions.
What inspires you to teach?
As an educator, I see my role as educating responsible and cognizant managers, leaders, and workforces by challenging my students to reframe dominant understanding of management problems. What inspires me as a teacher is the goal of training not only successful future managers and strong leaders, but also responsible citizens.
What’s the most interesting thing you’ve discovered through your research?
In the paper I’m currently working on, my co-authors and I show that we can use machine learning techniques to improve the quality of employee selection while decreasing the risk of discrimination against minority groups. We did the research using the teachers’ data from a US public school district. The district is currently working on the implementation of our model in their teacher selection practices. We hope our findings can have a real-life impact on the quality of young children’s education.
What do you believe is the future of your industry?
Organizations more than ever are realizing the importance of strategic HR decisions, which determine the quality of their human capital. Both researchers and practitioners are spending more time on the optimization of these decisions using new technology. I think my field of study in academia is following the industry as more researchers are using new developments in big data analysis and artificial intelligence. HR analytics is playing and continues to play a significant role both in academia and the industry.
What are you most looking forward to in Vancouver?
My husband and I are big foodies. We are looking forward to discovering Vancouver’s restaurants and coffee shops, and I should say we have already been very successful, so far!