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Dean's Convocation medalist lands her dream job with the International Monetary Fund

June 14, 2024
Photo credit: Robyn Humphreys, Faculty of Arts and Social Science

Dr. Marieh Azizirad, who completed her PhD in economics at Simon Fraser University (SFU) last summer, is thrilled to be starting a position as an economist at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Washington, DC.

She is also being recognized with a 2024 Dean of Graduate Studies Convocation Medal awarded to graduating students whose cumulative grade-point averages place them in the top five percent of their class.

Growing up as one of seven siblings in Mahabad in the northwest of Iran, Azizirad says she always enjoyed school and was a good student, often at the top of her class.

Her first job as an economist at the Monetary and Banking Research Institute with the Central Bank of Iran gave her enough of a taste to know she loved the work, but she wanted to go further. She knew her career aspirations required an advanced degree, so she started looking at PhD programs abroad.

Azizirad received offers from several graduate programs but ultimately chose SFU’s Department of Economics because she was impressed by the research caliber of its macroeconomics research faculty. She was drawn to macroeconomics because it examines how the economy affects every aspect of our lives, and she liked how the field of study helps her better understand the world.  

While completing her doctoral degree, Azizirad took her time deciding whether she wanted to focus on policy or academia. In the end, she chose to focus on policy because it felt more tangible to her. She also attributed her decision to her preference for working in large collaborative teams and seeing results more quickly than in academia. As Azizirad puts it, “I’m a results-driven person.”

Azizirad says, “During my PhD I worked hard, often on the weekends too. I worked hard because I knew what I wanted and to get the results I needed to put in the work. The result is the career that I have now.”

Landing her dream job was not easy. Azizirad went through multiple rounds of interviews, each with its own challenges and requirements. “My interest, my ambition, my hard work, and my prior experience helped a lot,” she says.

 “Work hard, work smart, and make your decisions as soon as possible."

For students aspiring to achieve similar success, Azizirad says, “Work hard, work smart, and make your decisions as soon as possible. Knowing what you want to get out of your PhD journey will guide you on what to focus on in your research and how to do your research. This in turn will determine what you do later on.”

She also explains she worked hard to build the basics in her studies. With a solid grasp of the basics, the subsequent learning was more enjoyable.

“If you set a goal and you do your best, you’re already successful,” Azizirad says.

She is profoundly grateful for her time in SFU’s Department of Economics and would particularly like to thank her supervisor Lucas Herrenbrueck as well as professors Bertille Antoine and Luba Petersen for their support. 

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