Story and Photo by Rob Rombouts
“Every time I go to class, I feel like it’s a new day,” said Shahbaz Sheikh. “I always feel that if I can’t make an impact, the students don’t need me.”
Sheikh, an Associate Professor of Finance in the DAN Department of Management & Organizational Studies is the 2018 recipient of the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching in the Faculty of Social Science.
In his 13 years as a faculty member at Western, Sheikh has worked to keep his courses interesting and innovative, and most of all, applicable to the real world.
Sheikh teaches courses in Corporate Finance, Derivatives and Risk Management. His research is also focused on issues in Corporate Finance and Corporate Governance.
Sheikh ensures his courses are not just focused on theories in finance, but include applications from the real world on Bay Street and Wall Street. This makes his courses more interesting to students and helps students find jobs in the financial industry. He opens his classes with discussions of current financial news and shows his students how the textbook theories and his own research explain those events.
“I try to make things as practical as possible by giving students projects based on current financial data. I break complex concepts into small pieces, so it is easier to understand, and then put them back together to show the big picture,” said Sheikh
This approach is intended to instil critical thinking. “I teach them, but I want them to use their critical sense and ask questions,” said Sheikh. “I try to make them think out of the box. I convert my classroom into a business boardroom where future leaders engage in discussions”.
Sheikh also links financial concepts to everyday life, giving examples of day to day financial decisions we all make. He makes his students think about why opportunity costs are important and how to make the best decisions based on the available resources.
For Sheikh, it is important to connect with students, and help them feel more comfortable. “Passion is very important,” said Sheikh. “Without passion, teaching is like a body without a soul. And the students know if you really care for their success.”
Sheikh acts as a mentor to his students both inside and outside the classroom, helping them to look for opportunities and motivates them to keep working toward their success. He encourages his students to have short, achievable targets, which, if successful, will lead to long-term goals.
“My motto is, you never fail; you just give up,” said Sheikh. “If you knock on the door and it doesn’t open, then it’s not your door.”
Students have told Sheikh that while his courses are much more difficult than others in the department, they enjoy his courses the most. Many students stay in contact even after graduation, letting him know about their career moves and achievements.
“A student who failed my course told me that, even though he failed, I was still the best prof at Western,” said Sheikh. “That student came back next term and passed the course.”
In his time at Western, Sheikh has witnessed the development of the department, from the Bachelor of Administrative and Commercial Studies, to the Management & Organizational Studies program, and then to the full DAN Department of Management & Organizational Studies. Sheikh looks forward to the further development of DAN Management with new graduate program options and new faculty joining the Department.
‘The overall collegiality in the department is great,” said Sheikh, “It’s like a family. We have some of the finest teachers and everyone is very happy for me to receive the award.”
Established in 2016, the Dean's Award for Excellence in Teaching recognizes full-time faculty members who have demonstrated excellence in teaching. By honouring such individuals, the Faculty of Social Science demonstrates its commitment to teaching as a scholarly endeavour, and highlights the importance of outstanding teaching to our Faculty.