Getting to know Dr. Farzad Haider Alvi
From his background in investment banking to his experience working on boards, Dr. Farzad Haider Alvi brings a practical and global perspective to Athabasca University (AU). His research and teaching explore innovation finance, examining the individual agency, and the adaptation of strategy within emerging markets.
As a new member of the Faculty of Business (AU-FB), Alvi was drawn to AU-FB for its social impact and commitment to academic freedom. Currently, he is teaching EFNC 609 – Innovation Finance and facilitating FNCE 249 – Personal Investing, FNCE 322 – Personal Finance, and FNCE323 – Personal Finance: Special Topics, sharing his financial knowledge and practical experiences from his academic and banking background.
An investment background
As a former investment banker for 11 years in two European banks, his career took him all over the world. It landed him in Asia, where he worked in corporate finance and travelled to many different countries for another eight years. Throughout his time there, he discovered that there is much more to being successful in emerging markets than meets the eye.
“One-size does not fit all for emerging markets,” he said. “Success in one’s home market may not translate in different parts of the world. People aren’t aware that success is due to a particular context and when you switch context, you have to change your strategy quite radically.”
“One-size does not fit all for emerging markets. Success in one’s home market may not translate in different parts of the world. People aren’t aware that success is due to a particular context and when you switch context you have to really change your strategy quite radically.”– Dr. Farzad Haider Alvi
Individual agency and innovation
Alvi’s research focuses on two main areas. The first is individual agency, which is the ability each person has to impact the world around them.
“When I got further into my research, I gravitated towards researching turbulent institutional contexts, so emerging markets in the continents that have had a lot of turmoil—I study how businesses and individuals respond to that,” he said.
Living and working in investment banking in Asia, the Middle East, and eastern Europe, colonialism’s legacy is something business and organizations need to be mindful of and be prepared to address if they want to be successful.
“There’s a broader historical context in which we do business,” he said.
The second area of his research is on innovation finance and focuses on how entrepreneurial startups are affected in various stages of acquiring capital.
“There’s a lot of variability in these start-ups, and both the financing and startups are moving targets,” says Alvi. “This ecosystem is the life blood of innovation. It’s how investors come in and out of investing in disruptive businesses.”
Alvi believes that there are a lot of courses out there that teach business ideas, but what he feels is missing is how to finance starts-ups and new ventures. He teaches learners about the ecosystem of finance and how they need to formulate their strategy for success. With his international perspective, he encourages learners to “level-up” and view their startups with the idea of a “born-global company” from the first day.
“There's a broader historical context in which we do business.”– Dr. Farzad Haider Alvi
As an active member on three boards, Alvi currently serves as the board chair on the Ontario Education Collaborative Marketplace (OECM), a procurement partner for Ontario’s 116 education sector institutions, and 660 broader public sector and not-for-profit organizations. He is also a board member for Innovate Edmonton. Not only does he teach and research with AU, but is also sharing his expertise and insights with people across Canada.
Alvi’s recent research includes a new paper on the Hong Kong Umbrella Revolution, entitled “International entrepreneurial orientation amidst post-colonial upheaval: Entrepreneurs during the Hong Kong Umbrella Revolution,” which was published in Critical Perspectives on International Business, 2020. In this thoughtful and original piece of research, he explores the response of Hong Kong entrepreneurs to the institutional upheaval of the Umbrella Revolution through the lens of post-colonial identity construction.