7 keys to success in getting a PhD the Azad Azabany way

Congratulations to Azad Azabany for passing PhD viva on Wednesday 10 Dec 2014.

I met Azad 6 years ago when I was invited to dinner by Dr Hewa Balisane, Dean of Education at Soran University and a former student at the Andolos restaurant on the world famous curry mile on Wilmslow Road, Manchester.  I was impressed by his politeness and direct approach. He told me without hesitation that even though he had been away from formal eduction for a long time he planned to get his masters and do a PhD to complete his education. I get a lot of people telling me that they want to a PhD and 99% of the time it is just a weak wish so I normally take no notice but encouraged him without being convinced that he would follow through with committed action.

A year later I met him again at the same place. He had bought the restaurant and was doing his MBA at Bolton University. His commitment was impressive. He was running a restaurant from mid afternoon to early hours of the morning often finishing work at 4.00am seven days a week and going to classes full time. Added to this managing a very young family of a devoted wife and three sons with all the chaos that goes with it.

I heard from common friends that Azad had completed his MBA. I was pleased with this achievement.

At our third meeting in the same place he sat with us briefly and told me he wanted to do a PhD. My first thoughts were our field are far apart and I would find him a suitable supervisor in a business school close to his home in Manchester. We kept in touch and he wanted to do his PhD with me. This was a challenge for me, stretching my creativity and resourcefulness. His commitment and ambition made it easy for me to accept him as a PhD student. The next challenge was to pick a project that utilised his strengths and my experience. We brainstormed a few titles and settled on energy management as a topic.

Azad started his PhD in Oct 2011 and within 3 years had completed his research, passed MPhil and wrote his PhD. He has published 6 peer reviewed journal papers and 6 peer reviewed journal papers in press. This achievement is impressive even for full time students but borders on the miraculous when you consider he was running full time business with a young family. I was also off work almost 50% of the time through an illness so provided minimal support.

Seven keys to Azad’s success

  1. Incredible enthusiasm and passion to be successful.
  2. Love for learning and constantly improving himself in every way possible.
  3. Highly determined and exceedingly polite.
  4. Excellent organizational and time management skills.
  5. Ability to function on very little sleep over a long and sustained period.
  6. Ability to really listen and apply any good practice.
  7. Loving and supportive family.
Dr Javad Yazdani, Azad Azabany and Dr Roger Penlington (University of Northumbria)

Dr Javad Yazdani, Azad Azabany and Dr Roger Penlington (University of Northumbria)

I am predicting a future filled with great success and achievements for Azad in the coming years. See you on stage – well done.


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