Writers: Fiona Woticky (MSCM candidate 2020) and Lucie Wang (MSCM candidate 2020)

Editor in Chief: David Wang (MSCM candidate 2020)

Quite possibly the only senior manager in AI and machine-learning with two Master’s degrees in Engineering and a PhD in Supply Chain and Operations Management, Dr. Zaman Forootan works at Deloitte’s Omnia AI in addition to teaching our Managerial Decision Analysis course. He has developed a true appreciation for the use of data analytics and artificial intelligence in a variety of industries, such as retail, oil and gas, and transportation. We had the opportunity to have a chat with him about his career journey and what it’s like working in consulting.

Doubling Down on Degrees

Dr. Forootan was prepared to complete a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, and PhD in Mechanical Engineering. However, during the course of his PhD studies at the University of Calgary, he became intrigued in the design management aspect and decided to expand his area of expertise. This resulted in the completion of yet another Master’s degree – this time in Engineering Design- and a PhD change to Supply Chain and Operations Management. His thesis, which was on a theoretical optimization and forecasting model, encouraged him to start experimenting in data analytics and advanced machine learning software. Thereafter, Dr. Forootan’s passion for AI exponentially grew, leading him to his current position. While not opposed to starting his own AI-tech company in the future, he is currently committed to the exciting opportunities that his role provides in managing and consulting.

Building a Career in Consulting

In the consulting world, Dr. Forootan explains that his work and life are merged together. In addition to frequently working more than 40 hours a week with his team, Dr. Forootan often wakes up in the middle of the night with an idea or solution and pursues it. As a manager, Dr. Forootan encourages employees to develop and hone their own work-life balance, by giving trust, flexibility and autonomy to his entire team.

Dr. Forootan’s 4 steps for starting a career in consulting:

  1. Understand what consulting is and develop a serious interest in it
  2. Prepare for, and get past the interview stage. At Deloitte, the Interview Process consists of 3 rounds of interview with: HR (behavioral and FIT questions), with someone in the same position that you are applying for, and lastly, with partners and senior-position personnel.
  1. Be able to critically think and challenge ideas by asking questions.
  2. Always identify the real problem and question that the client wants you to solve.

 The AI Landscape in Canada

Canada is a mover-and-shaker in the AI and deep machine learning revolution, although the industry focus is different among key tech-growth cities. When asked about the AI boom in Canada, Dr. Forootan points out that most of the AI advancements in Toronto and Montreal are in the FinTech and Marketing Industry, while Calgary and Vancouver are geared more towards the Energy and Agriculture sectors. If you’re intrigued by the AI revolution, Dr. Forootan encourages you to start looking into the specific topics you are interested in and try and understand their real-life applications, then take advantage of open-learning courses online.